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Frowning : Extinct

Funeral project Frowning return with an album that improves on their dark signature sound.

I fondly remember 2014's album 'Funeral Impressions' by Frowning. Three years on, 'Extinct' manifests itself from some dark hell. This covers a wide range of emotions that include depression, suicide, despair, death and abysm. The solo project founder Val Atra Niteris has once again found the right balance between horrendously tortured vocals and long drawn out guitar rhythms that pulverise your soul.

There is also an instrumental cover of Frédéric Chopin's 'The Funeral March' and a 20 minute mammoth song called 'Buried Deep'. We are treated, as well, to guest vocals on 'Nocturnal Void' by Stanislav Govorukha from Suffer Yourself, and by Hekjal from Ad Cinerem on 'Encumbered by Vermin'.

One special thing to take note of is to read the lyrics as each song is being played. They are beautifully crafted and have such meaning that you can really connect to each song. No song is over-complicated with riffs, and some may find that lacks certain direction or change but I think this suits Val's writing and composing. Having been on the long journey through 'Funeral Impressions' we should already know what to expect with 'Extinct'. Instruments such as organs give us a different feel and the overall sound is stronger, I feel, on this album. It looks like Val has spent time honing his skills on both tone and production. The album itself has been released by Black Lion Productions.

'Nocturnal Void' starts with sweeping leads, reminding me of the band Ennui. The sound itself pulls you down; both captivating and spellbinding. It leaves you numb, lifeless and empty. The weight of vocals is huge and dark. Everything is layered for that total feeling of living in a bleak world. Slow parts only add to the feeling, leaving enough room for one to ponder what we are all doing in this forsaken world.

'Encumbered by Vermin', featuring Hekjal, slows down everything again. It feels like time is stopping. Some of the guitar changes from just power chords to single notes and chugging, which is nice for a bit of variation. The sound is so big you won't hear too much of the other instruments like bass or keys. It's just a overwhelming production. I guess what I mean to say is no instrument really has centre stage at any given time - apart from some clean parts, everything remains within the wall of sound.

'Veiled in Fog' is around 14 minutes, but has some quiet passages that allow you to breathe life in the old bones. Patience is the key to Frowning: letting it all soak in, every note should be swallowed and digested, giving birth to something else not quite perfect but ready to grow. Not many bands can carry songs like these that are so drawn out. A riff that hangs for what seems like hours, but still keeps the listener intrigued.

'Buried Deep', at over 20 minutes, demands your full attention. Organ and choir-like sounds start proceedings. This is a sombre introduction to the track and you almost know it will explode into life. It's my favourite track on this album for texture and feel. Val has this spot on from the emotional side of playing to a person's inner self. More choir passages follow halfway through, to break up play with touches of clean electric. The clean parts just hang in the air, never to be over-played or really built on. Finally, we enter the last song Frédéric Chopin's 'The Funeral March'. Organs rise hypnotically and it's a song that grows on you. It's a brave attempt to cover this work, so I take my hat off to him.

Overall, having listened to this album for quite a while, it is yet another excellent release from Frowning. Val has taken the concept of his earlier works and pushed himself both in songwriting and production. He has stuck to what makes Frowning's signature sound and somehow made it even more miserable. Production and mastering is again of a high quality. It would be easy to lose everything in the mix such is the heaviness and suffocating nature of the melodies. The vocals sit perfectly in the mix as well. I'm so interested to see what Val and Frowning will come up with next. Val himself has a number of projects on the go, and I don't believe for one moment any have a happy ending.

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Reviewer's rating: 9/10


Tracklist :
1. Nocturnal Void
2. Encumbered By Vermin
3. Veiled In Fog
4. Buried Deep
5. Frédéric Chopin's Marche Funèbre

Duration : Approx. 63 minutes

Visit the Frowning bandpage.

Reviewed on 2017-07-21 by Riccardo Veronese
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