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  FRAIL GROUNDS
'The Fields Of Trauma'
(Hostile Media)
Release Date: 3rd March 2014


Roger Berzerk Fauske

Roger Berzerk Fauske

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frail grounds

The Norwegian rock scene is alive and very well indeed, boasting the likes of Bergen's finest Audrey Horne, Iskald, Enslaved and numerous other very talented bands.

So time once again for another sojourne into Norwegian rock, and this time my journey takes me to the east of the country and the capital, Oslo. The band in question is Frail Grounds and whilst 'The Fields Of Trauma' is their debut, it was actually self released by the band back in 2012. However with the advent of a deal from UK indie label Hostile Media, the album now gets the treatment of full distribution, always a difficult thing when doing it all on your own.

The album is a concept album (for those who still shiver at the mere mention of the phrase concept album, 'Operation Mindcrime' was one such thing, so zip it) and follows a journey deep into Siberia and questions how far a person will go to achieve a sense of resolution under extreme circumstances.

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The band themselves have been around since 2005 and released an EP 'Corrosion' but this is their first full length opus, hence being a debut album; clever eh?. The band take their influences from a very broad rock spectrum encompassing prog, extreme Metal and about everything else in between, a good starting point if you want to create something different.

So to the album. As I said it is a concept album so first up you won't be surprised to hear is an elongated intro. This one is entitled 'Prologue: Arrival' and comes in at just over a minute. As a scene setting piece of music it is about right, the melancholy violin giving that feeling of excitement mixed with trepidation.

The first full length track is 'The Expedition' and long it is at over eight minutes. After the initial and very proggy intro, the beginnings of this one take you a little by surprise with their extreme influences being immediately apparent, but the shifts between that and the more classic heavy rock, especially with the vocals, make it a far from mundane track.

The melody behind the song stays on the same path, a little reminiscent in feel to Helloween's 'Keeper...' tracks. Just when you think you have got to grips with it all, more musical scene setting takes place, akin to the intro but a lot more eerie and definitely more fateful, giving me at least the feeling of futility – a battle that can't be won. The tempo and noise cranks back up to full and determination to overcome the apparent futility kicks in.

Musically this one is very intriguing and I do like a bit of intrigue – great guitar interchanges, thunderous drums, tempo changes and the outro's quiet, restrained bass rumble is a fitting end.

frail grounds

'Freeze Me' is the next one in line. This one is based almost exclusively in the classic rock and prog spectrums but there are clever and sometimes subtle references to the heavier side hissing in the background and that adds more than a little substance to the track. The feeling of the song is one of more hope and brighter outlook than the previous one, shifting gear musically especially during the latter part when prog takes over, a Gaelic feel coming through. Classy stuff indeed.

'A Rural Trauma' is next up and incidentally living where I do it is also a description of every day. But back to the Norwegians, this one starts off with the catchiest of melodies before guitar comes screaming in and then everything shifts through a host of sub genres and you never quite know which way it is going. Morten Søbyskogen's vocals are best suited to this type of track, his power, range and feel a perfect bedfellow to the music behind it.

'The Sinister Road' is next out of the blocks and no this isn't about the drive going up to the tax office. A well named track, there is definitely a darker edge to it, reinforced in the second part of the song as the music digs deep int the more extreme side.

Norwegians are of course well known for the black Metal side of things and the likes of Mayhem could scare the crap out of the most hardy of individuals. This is along those lines although tempered slightly with their melodic influences but it has the desired effect even without the lyrics. Lyrically think dark, menacing, faceless shapes. Another great song and so many aspects to it.

'Triptych' is shorter than most of the others, but full of feeling, a long intro and again a menacing edge to it although in an entirely more subtle way than the previous track. They sing 'You Are Coming With Me' and only the foolhardy would argue.

'Origin' is somewhat more upbeat than the despair laden tracks before. Another long and inspiring intro, the now familiar mix of styles this time compounded even further by a short piano part in the mid section. In 'I Did It All To Save You' Morten tells us and you have to say it is very considerate of him. Marvellous people the Norwegians you know.

'Deathlines' sounds concerning even from just the title but the tempo is maybe not what you would expect from the title. 'We Came Together, We Came This Far, We Fell Apart, We Fell Into The Storm' doesn't sound altogether too promising, in fact it is reminiscent of the soundtrack to an England World Cup campaign (you can pretty much select any sport). But the mood isn't a depressive one, it is uplifting emotionally and melodically. Musically it is again deeply enshrined in ther classic rock and prog roots with an exquisite piece of guitar widdlyness thrown in for good measure.

'Siberian Nights' is next, and if I was asked to desribe said nights in two words, bloody cold springs to mind but that is certainly not a fair description of the song. It is an instrumental piece full of orchestration, pomp (no not pimp), screeching guitars and a little touch of melancholy.

'Emberstorm' is the last full length track on the album and at more than eight minutes they certainly haven't cut any corners. Anthemic beginnings, full of power and drive throughout, powerful soul searching vocals before it drops down to rather more than mildly concerning screams, the musical embodiment of that rather well known painting by fellow Norwegian Edvard Munch. Then rising like a demonic berzerker, the musical equivalent of shock tactics to take us forward all guns blazing to the end of the track.

So to the end, and our final port of call is 'Epilogue: Completion'. Slightly longer than the prologue, this is still in the same vein but this time there is a vocal addition. 'The Rest They Will Falter, But I Will Go On' starts it off and sums up the finality of the concept. Well I say finality, but it obviously isn't given there is more to do.

So that's your lot. To the musical side in a minute, but a concept album as a debut is quite a brave move. The band set out with the aim of creating songs with atmosphere and they have certainly done that. Whilst it is true that the concept of a concept album is not something that appeals to everyone, if I hadn't mentioned it in the first place then the album would still stand up on its own merit.

You see that is the dilemma with the concept album – it is all too easy to let the concept take over from the music and that never works. So in that regard just one word to say to the East Norwegian fellas – Gratulerer (congratulations to you Anglophiles).

Musically it is a very good album especially given the fact it is a debut. OK, it is not on the scale of Van Halen's first opus but then what first album ever has been since? The obvious mix of influences works fantastically and perhaps surprisingly meshing them together also works a treat. The melodies contain well thought out progressions with the twin guitars working perfectly together, powerful vocals overlaying it and behind it all is a very fine rhythm section, thunderous drums pounding away and a very intricate and not overpowering bass line.

Depth to the sound comes in the shape of the keys and overall it is a very good sound and as well as that it is well mixed, often a sticking point.

I have said it before and I will say it again – there is a whole lot more to the Norwegian rock scene than death Metal and it is a shame that turing here is always difficult financially and logistically. Hopefully this lot will come here soon and if they do, go and see them or you are likely to have an angry viking hunting you down.

The finest compliment I can pay this lot from Oslo is they have me won over, and that is coming from someone with his Norwegian roots firmly planted in Bergen (It's a Norwegian thing).

Morten Søbyskogen - Lead Vocals
Erik Fidgett - Guitars
Vegard Amundsen - Guitars
Thomas Oppedal - Bass
Gunnar Gudmundsen - Synth
Magnus Nødset - Drums

Online:
www.frailgrounds.com


beer beer beerbeerbeer


6.2.14





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arch enemy ARCH ENEMY ANNOUNCE NEW LIVE DATES FOR 2015
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motley crue EXCLUSIVE: MOTLEY CRUE PAY TRIBUTE TO GARY GLITTER ON THE FINAL TOUR
Debauched rockers Motley Crue are currently in Japan performing their last Asian dates on their much publicised Final Tour...

music for nations LEGENDARY HEAVY METAL LABEL MUSIC FOR NATIONS IS BACK
As well as reissues, the label will be signing new artists for the first time in over a decade...

satyricon SATYRICON SIGNS WITH NAPALM RECORDS FOR RELEASE OF SPECTACULAR LIVE DVD
"It's not a live album. It's a celebration of what Satyricon stands for as a band..."

absolva ABSOLVA RELEASE NEW VIDEO FOR 'IN SOME WILD UNIVERSE' PLUS TOUR UPDATE
This video features the touring line-up of the band for 2015...

rival sons RIVAL SONS WITHDRAW FROM SOUNDWAVE 2015
Australia will have to wait a little longer to see Rival Sons in the flesh as family matters take priority...

the answer THE ANSWER RELEASE BRAND NEW LYRIC VIDEO FOR TRACK 'LONG LIVE THE RENEGADES'
"The song is about just doing what you do best and having a bit of a bunker mentality..."

dead kennedys DEAD KENNEDYS ANNOUNCE UK AND EUROPE HEADLINE TOUR FOR JUNE 2015
US punk pioneers will bring their distincitve sound to four countries over ten dates...

carl sentance BREAKING NEWS: CARL SENTANCE ANNOUNCED AS NEW VOCALIST FOR NAZARETH
Persian Risk vocalist Carl Sentance replaces Linton Osbourne to start the next chapter for the Scottish hard rockers...

rockingham firefest BREAKING NEWS: ROCKINGHAM RELIGHTS THE FIREFEST; GOTTHARD, DAN REED, STAN BUSH AND MORE ANNOUNCED
The AOR flag will be raised high yet again over Nottingham Rock City...

pentagram PENTAGRAM RE-SIGNS WITH PEACEVILLE RECORDS - ALBUM RECORDING UNDERWAY
Through four decades of adversity and triumph, Pentagram have become a legendary international act...

uriah heep URIAH HEEP 2015 UK TOUR ANNOUNCED
This tour follows on from the release of the band's acclaimed album 'Outsider' which enjoyed excellent reviews...

godsmack GODSMACK VOCALIST SULLY ERNA TO MAKE AN ONLINE POKER COMEBACK
For Godsmack fans this could be disheartening as Erna shifts his attention from music to poker...

quo convention FIRST EVER STATUS QUO FAN CLUB CONVENTION ANNOUNCED
There will be live music, very special guests and a packed programme this October for this very special celebration...

queensryche THUNDER CONFIRMED AS VERY SPECIAL GUESTS TO ZZ TOP AT WEMBLEY ARENA PLUS MINI UK TOUR ANNOUNCED
The group's first studio album in six years, 'Wonder Days', reminds us why Thunder are now more revered than ever before...

queensryche QUEENSRŸCHE TO TOUR EUROPE AND RELEASE NEW ALBUM IN 2015
It's a busy year for Queensrÿche with headline shows and festival appearances before the new album release...

dir en grey dir en grey RETURN FOR TWO EXCLUSIVE SHOWS
The Islington O2 Academy will be the scene for Japanese avant-garde Metal in May...

unleashed SWEDISH LEGENDS UNLEASHED REVEAL ALBUM TITLE AND ARTWORK
The founders of the Viking Death Metal movement are back and as brutal as ever...

santa cruz SANTA CRUZ REVEAL LYRIC VIDEO FOR 'MY REMEDY'
Get a taste of the new album with 'My Remedy', the third single to be released...

Shattered sun LEGENDARY BRITISH MELODIC ROCKERS FM RETURN WITH 'HEROES & VILLAINS' ON APRIL 17TH
"We're on a roll! Some of the tracks on this album are better than anything that the band has ever produced, and Steve's voice is as good as ever..."

nightwish NIGHTWISH ANNOUNCE ONLY UK DATE THIS YEAR WITH ARCH ENEMY SUPPORTING
"Who would have thought about headlining at Wembley Arena one day when we were starting our UK touring history..."

quireboys THE QUIREBOYS GO UNPLUGGED AND PERSONAL: ACOUSTIC DATES ANNOUNCED
After last year's highly acclaimed unplugged tour, The Quireboys are pleased to announce a very intimate string of evenings early 2015...

killit KILLIT UNLEASH DEBUT VIDEO AND ANNOUNCE FIRST EVER LIVE SHOW
'Shut It Down' is the first single from the album and is out now and available...

state villains STATE VILLAINS TO RELEASE SECOND EP IN SPRING
State Villains have an honesty that harkens back to an era of integrity and a distinct lack of gimmicks...

chris slade BREAKING NEWS: CHRIS SLADE IS BACK IN AC/DC
Chris will rejoin the legendary hard rockers for their appearance at the 57th annual Grammy Awards as well as the band's upcoming tour...

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