Review Summary: Frodus?
A silent question mark is sure to follow most readers’ thoughts upon stumbling into this review. The band that broke up in 1999, only to release seminal post-hardcore album of the decade, And We Washed Our Weapons In The Sea
, two years later? Yes, that Frodus… the same Frodus that blew your socks off with energetic, taut riffing and Shelby Cinca’s controlled screams, set to burst-fire. Frodus’s 2010 output (it feels odd even typing that) is more of the same, in the best way possible. While only a few songs, Soundlab 1
is a blunt reminder of everything that Frodus was, is, and (hopefully) will be in the future.
Never the band to innovate or take experimental leaps, the D.C. post-hardcore troubadours are in the business of imitating and perfecting, of taking what they saw in The Nation of Ulysses and Drive Like Jehu and refining it to an impressive degree. After loads of compounding, flattening the creases, and tightening loose bolts, Frodus would take the tried-and-true sound of their post-hardcore ancestors and present the listener with a polished-up product. Soundlab 1
is indicative of this. Each of the three songs would have been fitting on And We Washed Our Weapons In The Sea
, and “Pathless Land” would have even been a standout. Infused with mathy flavor, it grinds to a screeching halt near the end as the song fades with chomping guitars. Rigid guitar lines and unmistakable dynamism abound, Soundlab 1
lacks the sort of bounce that made other bands of Frodus’s heyday so damn affecting (i.e. At the Drive-In, Hot Cross), and in its place is a dark and dissonant aura, exemplary Frodus. “Too Big A Lie” shows off a very contained sound, never reaching too far beyond barriers. This aspect is particularly striking in the vocal work. For the perfect example of this, compare Shelby Cinca’s restraint on “The Earth Isn’t Humming” to Thrice’s cover where Dustin Krensue meanders and prolongs his notes in hopes of gleaning some affect from the listener, as opposed to Frodus’s succinct and cutting intensity.
Recorded in 2009, Soundlab 1
is equally elating and disheartening. All the excitement that Frodus is recording again is equaled out by the fact that there’s no significant material planned for the near future. On the other hand, why would they entitle it Soundlab 1
, then? Either way, this 7’’ is Frodus at their finest, even if it’s a meager output. Three songs aren’t quite enough to establish a flow or rhythm, but “Too Big A Lie” and “Pathless” alone are more than enough to remind me how Frodus never fails to impress. Immersive and hard-hitting, Soundlab 1
is like meeting an old friend who looks a tad different after the decade since you’ve last seen each other, but somehow looks exactly the same in the same instance. Let’s hope there’s more where this came from.