For the most part, Frayle’s first full-length album, 1692 doubles down on the style that was first posited on 2018’s The White Witch EP. The Cleveland group commits to an atmospheric doom sound supplemented by influences from trip-hop and post-metal. The balance perpetually teeters between favoring the whispery ethereal vocals or the dark walls of fuzz, but any sense of competition is usually pacified by the haunting dreamlike ambiance and minimalist instrumentation.
However, 1692 sets itself apart from The White Witch by means of a decidedly heavier disposition. Adherence to the ‘doom lullaby’ template keeps the album from being aggressive in the traditional sense, but the guitar tone is absolutely massive, and the simple percussive patterns have power behind them. There’s even room for death grunts on “Gods of No Faith;” they caught me off guard at first and honestly seem out of place, but that’s mainly due to it being the only song where they appear.
The songs all linger around a uniformly slow, contemplative pace, but dynamics vary enough to keep individual tracks from running together. It takes a couple of songs to really get some momentum going, but “Darker Than Black” is a first-half highlight thanks to its punchy rhythms and unnervingly memorable chorus. The album’s second half comes out much stronger as “Dead Inside” and “Godless” offer particularly creepy buildups while “Burn” and “Stab” scale themselves back for more prominent vocal focus.
Even if you missed The White Witch EP, 1692 is a great establishment of Frayle’s unique style. The fusion of doom metal and trip-hop works greatly in the group’s favor, and the songwriting utilizes their best elements without getting too gimmicky. I have a couple nitpicks with the album’s flow, but this is definitely a grower that’ll take multiple listens to absorb. Anybody who likes their slow-burning doom with extra melody is advised to check out, and I’m looking forward to seeing how their style develops further in the future.
“Darker Than Black”