Frayle are a doom / witch-rock band originating from Cleveland, Ohio, describing themselves as “heavy, low and witchy”. Their four track EP The White Witch, contains three original tracks and a cover of Portishead’s Wandering Star.
Dark forces are conjured from Let The Darkness In, the EP’s opening track. Distorted guitar tones present a minor melody establishing a dark atmosphere. The bends on the guitar strings create a sense of encompassing darkness and falling into evil in contrast to Gwyn Strang’s soft vocals that are hauntingly gentle. Her harmonies and repetition of “still we let the darkness in” have an incantation, chant-style feel to it. Instrumentally the track is fairly simple with motifs, both instrumental and lyrical, are frequently repeated. This song writing style suits the themes and atmosphere of the track, busy rhythm changes and shredding guitars would feel very out of place. The White Witch has a slow tempo; long drawn out distorted chords really display the doom metal aspect of Frayle’s sound. Strang’s vocals add a higher pitch to the dominant low guitars and continue the haunting tones portrayed in Let The Darkness In. Her vocals also have a lullaby style to them. The soft gentle, tone of her voice has a dream-like quality that contrasts the haunting tone with a sense of comfort.
The dissonant stabbing chords of Wandering Star’s opening create a wonderfully dark and uncomfortable sound. Frayle’s cover of the Portishead track replicates the dark atmosphere of the original but in a heavier genre. The descending chord sequence of the chorus repeats the sense of falling into evil previously explored on the EP’s first two tracks. The echoing of Strang’s voice once again portrays a haunting sound over the dissonant stabbing chords to the track’s outro. Frayle make the instrumentation more prevalent in the mix compared to Portishead and creates a fuller sound, particularly with open guitar strumming during the chorus. Their interpretation of this track takes it to a new level with such atmospheric instrumentation enhancing the dark, melancholy tone of the lyrics.
Things That Make Us Bleed is more energetic than the other tracks on the EP with a faster tempo and more frequent chord changes. This creates a sense of greater movement in the track. The guitar solo is fairly simple centering around a repeated motif, but adds an extra melody layer that isn’t present elsewhere on the EP. The accompanying haunting background maintains the effect achieved by Strang’s haunting vocal melody lines when they are supported with dissonant guitars.
Frayle merge the doom metal genre with thematic and atmospheric aspects to create a dramatic sound. The tracks come together cohesively on the EP and Frayle truly make Wandering Star their own. The haunting yet calming nature of Strang’s vocals beautifully contrasts the harsh, dissonant tones in the instrumentation.
For fans of: Portishead, Sleep, Kyuss
Words by Holly Royle
‘The White Witch’ by Frayle is released on 15th April.