Words By: Gerrod Harris
Release Date: August 5th, 2016
The Frame Defect, a Toronto based, progressive rock band, have released their full length debut record entitled Selfless. Written as a studio project with the aims of commentating on today’s many world issues set in a slightly dystopian and Orwellian inspired world, vocalist and guitarist Milen Petzelt-Sorace has assembled some of Toronto’s best up and coming talent- including Red Handed Denial bassist Dominic de Kauwe, drummer Dickson Benjamin, and guitarist Spencer Creaghan– to deliver a compelling story paired with a collection of excellently written and recorded material.
As discussed in my profile of the band when they debuted their lead single, “Another Day”, Selfless is the story of a protagonist grown tired of being a bystander to a society that is engulfed in corruption, inequity, and hedonistic self-interest. Our hero decides to take justice into his own hands, becoming a vigilante for those marginalized; a voice for the voiceless who hang from the fringes of society. In doing so, he must also battle his own personal demons and morality when faced with his own growing sense of power. This is a story equally inspired from pop culture mediums as it is a reflection of the state of today’s western society. In a year haunted by immense police brutality, dreadful terrorism, militant racism, and a train wreck of an American election, the story arc perpetuated by Selfless is not only timely, but needed. This is very much a reactionary record, something more artists should do, especially those whose level of stardom has the ability to cause a stir.
Musically, unlike many concept albums which often sacrifice the quality of the music for the sake of propelling their message forward, Selfless is an excellently constructed album. The Frame Defect’s progressive metal takes much influence from Periphery and Protest The Hero while fueled by an alternative tone reminiscent of System Of A Down, which ultimately separates The Frame Defect from the countless emerging acts of the progressive genre. “Desperate Methods”-one of my favorite tracks on the record- is as heavy as it is brilliantly written, building up from a softer introduction into what can only be described as a flurry of intensity. Songs like this, as well as “Spotlight” demonstrate the incredible level of musicianship found within all members of the band. Songs like “Rusted Hands” and “The Capture” help tie the album together by not only providing space and a contrast between the metal songs with a softer instrumental section, but they also allow for the listener to imagine their own part of the story as they listen to what can easily be a part of the score to a Hollywood blockbuster. It is actually their lack of lyrical context but rather a reliance on emotional feeling and suspense created by solely the music which pushes the idea of the concept album even further.
In times of uncertainty and despair, art should be able to promote uncomfortable themes and challenge the listener in such ways. Rather than the popular trend of escapism, bubble gum pop about who’s sporting the roundest booty, The Frame Defect is a very conscious act in that they have given Selfless the purpose of critically acknowledging the perils of today’s society. This is as much for the ears as it is for the mind and the rebellious soul. “Eating Crow” and “Catharsis”, the two final tracks on the record, serve as a fitting and climatic conclusion to a monumental concept album. While “Eating Crow” focuses lyrically on the consequences of the heroes actions and musically takes the listener on a lengthy journey through a number of different motifs and styles, it in itself seems like the perfect ending; going out on what is easily the most well written song, but then the incredibly hard hitting “Catharsis” comes on, and the final kick to authority’s teeth. Selfless is as great of a piece of music as it is as a much needed commentary of western society.
1: Another Day
3: Rusted Hands
4: Desperate Methods
5: The Capture
6: Eating Crow