Dante’s Inferno and 80s rock? What’s not to like?
November 20th, 1991, not a date that too many people will remember almost 26 years on, but it is the date that, in many ways, this website was born.
The 16-year-old MV – both this reviewer and our Donnie – went to our first ever concert. Love/Hate opened, LA Guns came out and did their considerable thing, but the reason for being at Birmingham’s NEC that night was Skid Row. Our favourite band at the time.
The result was the most exciting thing we’ve ever seen – before or since – which is why when we saw in the press bio of The Fright’s fifth album, singer Lon declaring: “I fucking love Sebastian Bach”, we got all nostalgic.
At first glance, you aren’t particularly expecting a hair metal sheen when dealing with a band that is a little more gothic than that, but it’s right there.
It takes the brilliant opener “Bonfire Night” about 40 seconds to kick in, but my, when it does! When it does it comes in with a hook that could move mountains. Lon is all reserved in the verses – think Nick Holmes on “Draconian Times” era Paradise Lost, but the chorus, well the chorus wants to be a spandex covered arena rocker and it doesn’t care who knows it and the guitar solo (Kane and Danny do a manful job on their six strings here) screeches like it’s got urgent business in the 1980’s.
The album’s name comes from the opening section of Dante’s Divine Comedy and deals with the mess of current affairs both in their home of Germany, but wider afield, it just does it on its own terms.
“No One” has a touch of power pomp about it, but chugs along rather marvellously, and Lon is an incredible singer, “Wander Alone” questions his very existence, but the chorus is such that you are too busy singing along to notice.
Bands like Sisters Of Mercy, The Mission and The Cult are references here, of course, but they are mere starting points rather than the end of the journey, “Love Is Gone” for example has a black heart, but possesses a stone-cold belter of a chorus and it isn’t the only one.
“Fade Away” is a piano-led ballad to start, but is something altogether more weighty, “Oblivion” stomps around with a hard rock sensibility not seen since Type O Negative sang “My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend” and the bass groove here is something else.
Michelle from the wonderful End Of Green makes an appearance on the maelstrom that is “Leave” and there is a real ominous feel about “Drowned In Red” which seems like it is trying to restrain some real anger: “You always hate what you don’t know” offers Lon and there is something stirring here.
“Century Without A Name” sees things come in with an acoustic flavour and there are echoes of Moonspell (with whom they share a producer, Waldemar Sorychta) about this mini-epic. While there is a real left turn at the end, with “In Sicherheit” their first track sung in German – a cover of a punk song too – Andreas Löhr the singer of Stuttgart’s Fliehende Stürme, who made the original, guests here.
It is another example of the way The Fright have challenged themselves this time. Band’s don’t merge these two worlds as well as this. “Canto V” is very much a dark album, but thanks to The Fright’s skill and love of hard rock, it is one with a very shiny, glam coating.