Strings Of Mass Destruction
Karma Is Calling
Released: 2013, Indie
Prolific and consistent, guitar hero Murray Fradsham is back with his main metal vehicle, Strings Of Mass Destruction and a new album called KARMA IS CALLING. SOMD, a one-man band, has been developing very nicely over the past decade and the new album is consistent with his past output which I always appreciate. He seems to have settled on a logo and the cover art was done once again by long-time collaborator Dan Finnson, whose ethereal grim-reaper character has been featured on the last several album covers. I think it is about time that they introduced their mascot and gave him a back-story! It is harder for a solo artist to establish an identity than a band situation, so I think it is important for solo artists to have a bit of an image or something more tangible the fans can latch onto and SOMD have developed that consistency nicely.
KARMA IS CALLING is an independent album; written, arranged performed and recorded by Fradsham. It’s a plain digipak with no lyrics and just a couple of pictures, which is a bit disappointing because several of the other albums were quite nice in terms of lay-out and design, but I suppose all things cost money for an independent artists and it is the music that counts.
The first thing I noticed is that this album is more progressive than the previous album HOW SORROW SINGS. The songs are much longer and more complex. Three of the songs break the ten minute mark including the self-titled opener, which is a bold move as most people put their most accessible song on first. In my mind, the last song ‘Choice And Consequence’ a speedy little instrumental, would have been the more obvious choice to lead off the album, but maybe that is exactly why he decided to start with a long, ambitious composition. Four other tracks break the seven-minute mark so it is a long album. Despite some longer songs and more progressive arrangements, Strings Of Mass Destruction have retained their (his) signature sound. The lyrics are sparse, intelligent and fairly dark and introspective, but the vocals could be a bit farther up in the mix. I have the same general complaint I’ve had with SOMD on all the previous albums, he really needs a producer to bring out the amazing music on the disc. Admittedly, the production is slightly stronger than the last few albums but the project could really benefit from an outside ear to take it from ‘good’ to ‘great’. Again, producers cost time and money, something we could all use more of.
Lots of the songs have different tones, tempos and styles but he manages to blend them rather seamlessly. There are some dynamics, atmospheric parts, acoustic parts, clean soling, distorted stuff and a fairly broad range of sounds. However, Fradsham is not afraid to radically change it up to keep the listener on his or her toes. For example, at about the six-minute mark on ‘Repeat Today Tomorrow’ during a blazing solo he suddenly stops dead and shifts into an gentle almost jazz like part that lasts a few bars before rejoining the song full speed. There is very little (if any) of what you would call the ‘conventional’ song construction of verse, chorus ,verse, chorus, bridge, solo, chorus, chorus, chorus. SOMD’s mid-years Annihilator and Megadeth influence is still present which helps the album from losing its metal roots, so there is plenty of heavy music for you to enjoy.
Murray seems to sit very comfortably in the third tier of guitar demi-gods. In the first tier you have the few elite, the Vai’s, Satriani’s and Malmsteen’s that have major label deals and tour the world. Then you have a whole second-tier of guys who are on special guitar labels like Lion, Shrapnel and Leviathan, players like Joe Stump, David T. Chastain and Lars Eric Mattsson. Then next in line, there are many independent artists, (such Steve Cone, JD Bradshaw, Tracy G, John 5) who are miles ahead of the amateur class in terms of talent, and these few independent artists like Fradsham are creative, prolific and just waiting in the wings to be the next generation guitar hero. Murray Fradsham is certainly in that semi-pro league just waiting to be discovered. For fans of great guitar driven songs, KARMA IS CALLING is another fine effort from Strings of Mass Destruction.