Most times the title of an album hints to what's within, both lyrically and musically. Sometimes it can also reflect the listener's perceptions or reaction to the former. Such may be the case with Renaissance of Fool's debut work on Metalville Records, Fear, Hope & Frustration.
RoF's progressive metal is heavy and dark, sullen and melancholy, and the lyrics seem equally so, with fear and frustration chasing hope from the scene. The song titles speak volumes to this: Misguided Mind, Ordinary Man's Diary, Sleep, and The Child that Used to Play speak to a despondency only made more grave by the music. And even more so by Kjell Bergendahl moody, sometimes monotonous, vocal style.
Against this backdrop, there is some impressive musicianship and composition here. The use melody, especially in the vocal arrangements, makes the sadness of the songs bearable and listenable. But the heaviness of the bottom end gets even deeper and darker thanks to the massive riffage as chords, power or otherwise, swell in abundance. Here and there, a symphonic layer or flickering keyboards, lighten the arrangements like fireflies on a summer night. Ultimately, however, Fear, Hope & Frustration is simply heavy and brooding.
Herein lies the 'frustration' for the listener. You really want to like Renaissance of Fools and Fear, Hope & Frustration for the fine musicianship which makes even the darkest and despondent music (or lyric) an adventurous journey. But I grimace as it wears me down, slowly breaking my spirit. If you wish your progressive metal to be equally heavy, perplexing, dark, and brooding look to Fear, Hope & Frustration.