The release of the Schomberg Fair's fourth record, I Won't Be Afraid, comes on the eve of the Toronto-based band's indefinite hiatus. The metallic roots-rock trio has finally produced what is, in their minds, the quintessential Schomberg Fair album, the one that they've been destined to make since their formation eight years ago. I Won't Be Afraid is being touted as their crowning glory.
Engineered by Dean Marino (Tokyo Police Club, Cadence Weapon) the album is constructed like a gospel record with punk rock attitude and features deep, post-war blues performed in the style of ambient progressive metal with dangerous intonations. From the start, Matt Bahen's guitar echoes like heavy raindrops into a swelling ocean on the eve of an apocalyptic flood. The scratchy sound, often accompanied by drop-D bass, is as perilous as the end of days for which they warn.
I Won't Be Afraid is appropriately titled as the lyrics, which are preoccupied with premonitions of the apocalypse, are reinforced by walls of sound. The dutiful "Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down" exemplifies the roaring mettle of their metal; the lip snarling assault on the devil, and the fear and anxiety he embodies, is self-assured and meditated. The organized chaos is well arranged and balanced, as are the three-part renaissance-styled harmonies.
Despite being only eight tracks long, the album's songs extend well beyond the five-minute mark. Although the album is rigid in a lyrical capacity, the lengthier songs allow Bahen, Sidon and Garthside to explore the limits of their soundscapes. (Independent)