As the Last Light Drains

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While Freya's debut did mark an attempt by the Earth Crisis veterans to expand their lyrical and musical horizons a little, it's still clich├ęd hardcore punk with a little funk and occasional more standard hard rock influence. Karl Buechner's throat-straining drowning-howl singing wears on the listener just as surely as it must be wearing away his vocal nodes. The mood of anger and frustration pounds away in black-and-white patterns as unrelenting as the blurry, bleak black-and-white of the cover graphics. The words swim in a maelstrom of dejection and hopelessness, though small hints of the redemptive power of romantic love are heard in the title track, and a bit of optimism even peeps through in "Seize the Day." The occasional vocals by Darian Lizotte are the big surprise, at least within the context of music in which Buechner's grindcore approach hovers so heavily; Lizotte sings in a far more conventional high, yearning, melodic, and winsome alternative rock style. It's an odd juxtaposition, and should Lizotte ever become the principal lead singer, it would certainly make the music more pleasant and accessible. Those aren't qualities, by and large, that Freya is after, and ultimately As the Last Light Drains is indeed a draining and dreary way to spend half an hour.

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