Review: Fright, Fright (Gloom, 2021)

From the long-running and occasionally still kickin' Gloom Records comes the debut 12" from Philadelphia/New Jersey four-piece Fright. The group's lineup has ties to Das Oath, Devoid of Faith, Down in Flames, The Fire Still Burns, Grey C.E.L.L., Monster X, Ramoms, Söft Dov, and probably like 27 other bands, but that kinda only matters for fun trivia: Fright doesn't really sound like much of the aforementioned. Instead, these six songs/14 minutes tend toward raw, punk-infused early- to mid-'80s thrash metal filtered through ripping hardcore.

Expect plenty of rugged, tremolo-picked metal riffs interspersed with the charging mid-paced rhythms and powerful bass breaks of classic hardcore  (see "Imprisoned Minds," especially). Some of the melodies and discordant bends—notably heard during tracks like "Obliterated Ruin"—bring to mind a fiery Japanese hardcore influence; and in part due to the vocals, scattered moments create the vibe of a gritty punk version of Slayer (pre-1986), too.

Some standouts for me are the excellently titled "Erupting Dawn Thunder," where ascending/descending runs slide from a churning crawl into gnashing blasts; and closer "Child of a New War," which opens with a quick acoustic passage leading into an excellently eerie intro melody that really jumps out against the other material. Though typically tagged as metal characteristics, in this context they feel more like dark '90s crust punk to my ears.

The recording is dirty, but not forced or underproduced, so you'll find natural tones and a balanced mix that leaves a good amount of room for the bass presence to leave its mark on the tracks. Neither drums nor vocals dominate, so the overall sound is well-handled, for sure. Apparently tracked in a basement, I'm always impressed by how effectively and on-the-mark such methods can get the job done!

The 12" is pressed on bright red vinyl with badass cover art by the legendary Sugi, plus a thick double-sided black and white insert with hand-drawn (rather than typed) text. The lyrics essentially present utterly bleak topics of oppression and death amidst a hopeless apocalyptic wasteland. Intense.

I also have to point out—with great appreciation—that $17 shipped in the U.S. for a 12" is astoundingly reasonable in 2022. I've seen two-song 12" singles pre-order for nearly double that amount, so... props to Gloom for possibly even takin' a hit on that pricing. I mean, shit, my order also came with a handful of stickers and a 3" embroidered patch of the cover art, too! Insane!

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