[Album Review] The Schomberg Fair- I Won't Be Afraid
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by Mark Anthony Brennan


Release Date: July 8th, 2014
Label: Independent

According to bassist Nathan Sidon, this is the record that The Stromberg Fair have been striving for all along. Not only that, it is so good that they may consider it their swansong. We all hope that isn’t true, but if it is then at least they went off on a high note because ‘I Won’t Be Afraid’ is truly an album to be reckoned with.

If you were to tell someone that that there was a song that started off with bluegrass banjo, went into god-fearing gospel harmonies and then plunged into an acid rock guitar jam, they’d think you were joking. Or, at least, the song must be a joke – a novelty surely. But no, TSF somehow manage to synthesize those disparate musical styles into a coherent whole. It’s definitely unconventional (it throws you for a loop when you first hear it), but, boy, it works.

On each of the songs we start off in church and end up in hell. Take “Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down”, for instance. It starts with the eerie echoes of a reverberating guitar easing into a three-part gospel harmony, lead by Sidon’s cavernous baritone. Then there is a slow build up of Matt Bahen’s electric guitar, accompanied by the increasingly strident cries of the singers. Eventually you are embroiled in a trippy swirl of psychedelia.

The precision and discipline in the production belies TSF’s punk roots, although the punk attitude is still there, it’s just tempered with restraint. And, although their scorching metal can sound like it’s belched up from the infernal depths, the boys seem to have developed a true appreciation and respect for the gospel they sing. It is probably this respect that makes the whole thing work.