FRAISE – Hellicornia

FRAISE - Hellicornia


Label la Production
Release date: February 9, 2004

Guitars: B
Bass: B
Percussion: B+
Keyboards: B
Vocals: C-
Lyrics: C+
Recording Quality: B+
Originality: B+
Overall Rating: B

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

Fraise is a fresh band to the Heavy Metal scene from Sweden…and musically, it’s going to be hard to beat this group for “new band of the year.” Their self-funded release, Hellicornia, is jam packed with impressive guitar and bass riffs, prudent percussion schemes, well positioned keyboard inlays, and musical jams guaranteed to grab your attention and get your adrenaline pumping.

The leader of Fraise and songwriter is the drummer Patrick Fransson. Right out of the shoot, you’ve got to love a guy whose biography lists Animal from The Muppet Show as one of his favorite drummers! If anything, a statement such as this shows the band realizes rock ‘n’ roll is supposed to be fun, and that the Fraise members haven’t fallen victim (yet) of taking themselves too seriously. True to Animal form, Fransson’s playing is indeed inspired and is undoubtedly one of the highlights of this CD. The band lists Accept and Helloween as a few of their primary musical influences, so although these guys (for the most part) look clean cut, you know the will to rock hard must be entrenched within their make up.

Overall, Fraise’s musical sound (to me) is a mix between early Bruce Dickinson Iron Maiden (with a few stylistic differentiations in percussion {e.g., much more double-bass drum work} and more tame bass riffs) and the band Angra. The ninth track, “Kings and Queens,” cranks out an opening guitar riff that would’ve made Metallica proud in either Kill ‘em All or Ride the Lightning. Throw all of these comparisons together, and you’ll find Fraise’s sound is by no means a copy – it’s fresh, innovative, powerful, fast-paced (but under control), and, most importantly, enjoyable! For a self-funded project, the production quality across the board is surprisingly good…all of the instruments come through clearly and each is properly emphasized.

The only weakness in the album, which is all too common with new bands entering the Metal arena these days, is the vocal delivery of Jesper Max. Lyrically, there’s nothing wrong with Fraise’s songs…you’re not going to spend hours pondering hidden meaning or metaphoric tie-ins, but in most cases the lyrics fit just fine into the band’s song structures (except for the opening track, “Hellicornia” – I’ll discuss that further below). Max has an unusual tone to his voice, which tends to lack depth and punch. His voice is not offensive or irritating, but it does nothing to accentuate Fraise’s musical power. Max shows periodically he has decent vocal range potential, but often struggles to maintain notes and comes across a bit off-key and flat – especially in the tracks “Ice Cold,” “Saratoga,” and “Rise Again.” To Fraise’s credit, though, the band treats its listeners to extended jam sessions in virtually every song, demonstrating the band knows Metal has its roots embedded first in the music vs. vocal dependency.

Hellicornia is a 10-track album, however, the first and the tenth tracks have me a bit baffled. The opener, “Hellicornia,” is a short and cheesy keyboard-based Latin chant, making you think you’ve just walked into a Marilyn Manson want-to-be album. The tenth track, “X9,” is also keyboard-based; this time skillfully crafted, however, something better suited for the movie Chariots of Fire or as a filler in an early Black Sabbath record vs. inclusion in something as contemporary and powerful as this album. The remaining 8 tracks are comprised of 7 rockers and 1 acoustical slow tempo song called “July.” Each of these songs boasts impressive musicianship and are generally winners. Four of these tracks stand out in particular as truly great songs: “Set Us Free,” “Fight With Fire,” “Profile of the Day,” and “Kings and Queens.” These songs strike me as the best mainly because the vocals are both more subdued and sparser than in the other tracks – musically, the quality and innovativeness is generally equal betwixt all tracks.

In sum, this CD excited me…mainly because it shows the future of Heavy Metal is in good hands with the likes of young bands such as Fraise positioned to pick up and carry the torch. Musically, Hellicornia should be more than enough to ensure Fraise eventually scores a record label contract, however, the band will need to readdress their vocal philosophies to reach the plausible aspiration of hitting the big leagues. Fransson shows he has quite a few tricks up his sleeve regarding songwriting, and the band has done well by incorporating various musical influences and styles into their own original sound, so I envision the band will make the necessary adjustments next time around. Be that as it may, I recommend you give Fraise your attention now and check out this Hellicornia release…after all; we all need to flush out those adrenaline glands every now and then!

To read more about Fraise, including information regarding obtaining Hellicornia, visit the band’s website.


  • Dan Skiba

    Dan is a former partner at Metal Express Radio, and also served as a reviewer, photographer and interviewer on occasions. Based out of Indianapolis, USA he was first turned on to Hard Rock music in the mid-1970s when he purchased Deep Purple's Machine Head as his first album. He was immediately enthralled with the powerful guitar sound and pronounced drumbeat, and had to get more! His collection quickly expanded to include as many of Heavy Rock bands of the time that he could get his hands on, such as Ted Nugent, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath, to name just a few.

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