Triptych Recordings (2012)
Norwegian progressive metal is on the radar map for most into this genre- especially with the current recordings from acts like Pagan’s Mind and Circus Maximus, as well as the historical technical masterpiece from Spiral Architect. The six piece Frail Grounds has also been lurking in the mix, although more on an independent scale. Forming in 2005 and releasing their previously reviewed “Corrosion” EP in 2008, I did wonder where the band would go from here… and after a long songwriting and recording process we have the fruits of their labor in this 11 track, 55 minute debut album.
“The Fields Of Trauma” is a concept album detailing a Siberian expedition and the extreme conditions people can endure to have desired resolutions with their life. As such, it makes sense that Frail Grounds expands their musical and vocal output to match the proceedings- so do not be shocked by their occasional use of harsh vocals or death/ black metal riffs and rhythms when they need to match the storyline. Main singer Morten Søbyskogen lives for emotional expressiveness, up to the challenge with the off tempo/atmospheric measures on “A Rural Trauma” just as much on the more thrash-like triplet energy for “Origin”. His voice still has Urban Breed qualities along with the passion of Henrik Fevre from Danish act Anubis Gate.
Musically his five compatriots believe in truly honing in on the key measures and needs of each individual song. Be it the quiet, reflective keyboard part in “Origin” from Sigbjørn Galaen before the Erik Fidgett/VegardAmundsen riff and soloing expertise kicks into high gear, or the twin harmonics that wield into the epic arrangement whirlwind of bassist Thomas Oppedal and drummer Magnus Nødset on the Communic-like “Emberstorm”, the songs have tension, passion and a slight unexpected nature which is what we need more of from progressive metal. This is a record where I didn’t even mind the small intros, outros or short songs like “Triptych” that advance the storyline at their own pace.
It’s difficult to come up with a complete comparison for “The Fields Of Trauma”- you’ll hear elements of Symphony X, Pagan’s Mind, Nevermore, Communic and even thrash and death acts. Ultimately, Frail Grounds should gain serious attention for this work- it’s engaging, invigorating, and an exciting listen every time my ears take this in.
Rating: 5.5 / 6
Composed by Matt Coe