Music Review: Skin & Sorrow by Frayle

I have darkness in me.

We all do, and some of us feel the presence of the shadows a little more than others. Some of us find strength, and purpose in our darkness.

The remarkable Gwyn Strang and Sean Bilovecky have channeled their darkness into something beautiful.

Skin & Sorrow is an album for sitting in the dark.

Bilovecky’s brooding riffs are layered with subtle synth, and a rhythm section that binds the songs together. I appreciated the tuned down tom-toms blending into the guitar and bass tones. Strang’s haunting lyrics and vocals stand out for their unique character. Every element of the songs meld to a seamless whole. There is nothing extraneous or overwrought. Skin & Sorrow is an album about pain, sorrow, anger, revenge, resentment and redemption through suffering.

You’ll have no doubt that this is a doom metal album. Tuned down guitar, slow tempos, heavy distortion, and dark themes in the lyrics and vocals. Many doom bands sound much alike. This is different. When you are listening to Frayle, you know you are listening to Frayle.

“Stars” is a perfect manifestation of Frayle’s alchemy. A menacing bass opens the song. The guitar riff wails with sustained notes. In between are subtle overdubs and synth elements. The middle section of the song feels abit like a riff by The Cure. The melodic vocals and lyrics carry a palpable dread.

The darkness has returned

It never really left

This pain around me burns

Like a flame upon my chest

“Stars” by Frayle

The lyrics throughout the album are noteworthy. Not a word wasted. Every line is deep with emotion, matched by the vocal performance. The words are heavy with visceral anger, sorrow, regret, and resentment. The pain wasn’t contrived or trivial. I could feel it in my guts.

The cover image of Gwyn wearing a black veil, a crown of thorns and holding a bouquet of dried up roses speaks to the themes. The interior photo has her looking over a dark and gloomy beach, head down, shoulders hunched.

The album closes with a hint of melancholy hope. “Perfect Wound” acknowledges the formative power of suffering with a delicate drone, a simple strummed chord and Strang’s fragile singing.

The overall effect of every song on the record is one of catharsis. It is an acknowledgement of the pain of life but also an acknowledgement suffering can be a vehicle for beauty, if you look.

The shadows can overwhelm you, they can also be a place of refuge.

Frayle has made an album perfect for the days when I seek the solace of darkness.

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