This is the third full length for the Latvian band Frailty, which in over a decade of activity has certainly not shone in terms of prolificacy, contrary to the sound quality exhibited, always under the banner of a first-rate death doom. Melpomene, released in 2012, was an album that partly suffered from a tracklist in which songs composed in different phases of the band’s history converged, so that at times a certain discontinuity emerged, which was however compensated in the best way by the overall goodness of every single episode. Ways Of The Dead feeds on Lovecraftian themes and the band from Riga sharpens its approach, starting again from the song that opened the previous work, Wendigo: the natural references cease to be the masters of Northern European melodic death doom, letting the inspiration sail across the ocean, assimilating and reworking ideas close to Novembers Doom. This choice, if at the beginning it surprises, in the course of the work turns out to be convincing even if the painful and melancholic atmospheres of the past become a memory and will certainly be missed by those who prefer this aspect in death doom: our band unloads a nice hail of blows, without losing sight of their doom roots but making them really granitic and harsh in several passages. A more physical than emotional impact, with an essentially death matrix, seems to be the leitmotif of a work that, all things considered, goes against the established habits, which see the bands if anything soften their sound with the passage of time. Even when the doom, in its most usual form, finally takes the field in the final with the remarkable Alhazred (a name well known to the inveterate Lovecraftian), this happens in a much more dense and obscure than crystalline and emotional. A disturbing buzzing of insects (it’s better not to know what around, but it’s easy to imagine) closes an album that may leave some perplexity at the first listening, but then it becomes more and more incisive as you get familiar with the bats such as the opener And The Desert Calls My Name, Cthulhu, Ia Shub Niggurrath and Scorpion’s Gift, although the final, as mentioned, brings back to an approach closer to the style of the past with the closing track. The oriental-sounding The House In The Lane Of Scholars is quite a story in itself, with hints of the best Iced Earth. All in all, this return of Frailty shows a decisive shift towards a hardening of sound that, however, does not distort the doom nature of the band, but shifts more decisively the sound coordinates towards death, losing something in charm and gaining as much in concreteness: between give and take I always prefer to keep Melpomene, but Ways Of The Dead is still a very good test.

2017 – P3LICAN