Frail Body: A Brief Memoriam

Stricken with grief, you may find yourself unable to fully articulate all your thoughts. The raw, open emotion overwhelms you like a crashing wave dragging you down with weight. Screaming or fighting might help in the short term, but often time and patience is needed. Trying to be put together, between the screams and shouts and whatever else, when you’re going through something that rough seems impossible. If you’ve gone through the experience before, you’ll recognize Frail Body’s newest album A Brief Memoriam as something familiar. If you haven’t had the misfortune to feel grief on this stage, you’ll have at least experienced it by association after hearing A Brief Memoriam.

Undeniably dark and heavy, the album often overwhelms with its palpable emotion. Though influenced by a number of genres including prog, punk, metalcore, and screamo, it is distinctly emo. Driven by the oftentimes unintelligible vocals, the tracks are rough and real. The different genres keep the album from getting stale but sometimes make the songs trip over themselves with the changing sounds. They jarringly cycle through tempos and styles as the album tries to show everything it can do. Despite the sometimes awkward sound, the discomfort is still on theme with the album. It can be hard to phrase exactly what you want to say, and trying may take multiple tries. Even when the lyrics hit, the delivery is filled with so much unsettledness that emotion overcomes a rational reaction.

For the most part, A Brief Memoriam is a heavy listen. Beyond the lyrical content, it’s loud, aggressive, and at times overwhelming. Under the onslaught of noise, the slow speed of the album demonstrates its understated complexity. In songs like “Your Death Makes Me Wish Heaven Was Real” and “Traditions In Verses,” the pace is slow despite how much seems to be going on. Screaming and distortion are apparent, but there is little drive or positive energy that give the tracks kinetic movement. Though, a more lively drive would feel out of place here. The overall feeling in this album’s approach to its slow, methodical heaviness is like the long process of overcoming grief despite strong, initial reactions.

Frail Body accomplishes a powerful sensation here. The juxtaposition of heavy and soft elements amplifies the emotion. Whether with a raw sound like “Aperture” or something cleaner and softer like “Traditions In Verses,” the tracks powerfully manage to convey the album’s feeling. Though the sense of the meaning may not be fully articulated, it is apparent. Though A Brief Memoriam is bleak, “Old Friends” does a nice job of finishing the album in a satisfying way. It feels less hopeless and bitter than the other tracks. The last track goes somewhere new and it leads to a cathartic sense of fulfillment at the end of an often difficult listen.

Though it hits on an emotional level, A Brief Memoriam mostly leaves you with the sensation of overwhelming noise. There is strength in how loud songs seem, but it makes for a hard listen. The heavy overdrive and screaming vocals leave the album feeling very lo-fi and contrast too strongly with the gentler more melodic backing aspects of the album. The songs become jerky as they struggle to tie off the loose ends of the different sounds. The end result is that the album, though thematically bound, is loose. It struggles as the loose ends continue to unravel through a full listen.

Rating: 5.4/10

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