(Andy Synn kicks off another week with a review of the new album from Hungarian hellions Fragda)
Conventional wisdom – if there is such a thing – would tell you that the two worst times to release a new album are the beginning and end of a year.
After all, December is usually dominated by lists and round-ups, and January often finds people desperately trying to catch up on what they missed in December… so no band in their right mind should be planning to release anything in these particular months, right?
Apparently a lot of artists didn’t get this particular memo however, as not only was the tail-end of 2021 absolutely packed with albums, but the start of 2022 has also been remarkably busy with new releases.
And, no, I’m not just talking about the new Wiegedood and Fit For An Autopsy albums.
So, for the rest of the week (and likely next week too) I’m going to endeavour to showcase some of you may have missed in what has, incredibly, already been an unexpectedly busy month, beginning with this spine-breaking slab of ultra heaviness from Hungary’s Fragda.
While the, ahem, “core” of Damnation Is Inevitable is perhaps best described as “Blackened Deathcore” – think Carnifex, Lorna Shore, The Breathing Process, etc – that particular descriptor doesn’t quite capture the full totality of the band’s sound.
For one thing, the sheer face-melting fury of songs like “Five-Pointed Symmetry” and “Wendigo” (the album’s astonishingly aggressive opening pairing) frequently puts me in mind of the more stripped-down and straight-to-the-throat side of Anaal Nathrakh, especially when Fragda start to combine layer after layer of massive guitar work, inhuman drumming, eerie melody, and subtle synths into a veritable orgy of extremity and excess.
These comparisons also make themselves known in tracks such as the hypnotically heavy “Thalassophobia” and outlandish closer “Burning Legion”, whose melding of humongous grooves and merciless, mechanised malevolence not only recall the industrial-strength intensity of messrs. Hunt and Kenney, but are also reminiscent of the sinister symphonic bombast of Puritanical-era Dimmu Borgir as well.
Even more impressively (and, arguably, even more importantly) there are moments here and there – such as the equally chilling and crushing atmospheric assault of “Black Sun”, or the gravity-distorting density of “Surface of Abyss” – where I find my thoughts drawn more towards bands like Nightmarer and Gomorrah, groups who (much as Fragda are attempting to do here) have scratched and clawed their way out of the sub-genre ghetto and built an identity for themselves which refuses to be defined by anyone else’s prejudices or preconceptions.
That’s not to say that Damnation Is Inevitable is quite on that level just yet, and the band clearly still have some growing and developing left to do, but there’s a realness and a rawness to it – especially when it comes to the vocals which, unlike some of the other bands mentioned here, don’t rely on excessive layering and effects to augment their power or venom – which speaks volumes about the group’s as-yet-untapped potential.
Of course, the very nature of the music will probably put off a few of our readers, which is understandable as I’m not going to pretend this particular style, or any particular style, is designed for absolutely everyone.
But I’d definitely say that anyone who is a fan of this sort of sound should consider putting down or pressing pause on some of the bigger and more famous names they’re listening to right now (many of whom, it has to be said, I find somewhat superficial and underwhelming) and instead giving this one a spin instead.
You might just discover that bigger isn’t always better, and that sometimes you’re better off betting on the underdogs.