At the time of writing this review, this less-than-sceptered isle of Britain is witnessing temperatures below freezing, the ground cracks under feet from the thin layer of ice and the chill in the air makes every breath visible when outside. So it seems fitting that the soundtrack to this cold January be provided by a death metal band who have a clear obsession with all things frostbitten.
Even though taking up residence in Texas – better known for its heatwaves than snowstorms – Frozen Soul‘s debut record Crypt of Ice transports you to straight to imaginary tundra, which makes you feel like the only way you are going to get warm is to throw down and mosh your way out of the situation. Musically, the band blend together elements of death metal and hardcore to devastating effect. The guitars at times sound like chainsaws trying to crack through the ice (an excellent utilisation of the old HM-2 buzzsaw tone), whereas vocalist Chad Green is a perfect representation of hypothermia-induced delirium, barking over the mix like an animal trying to break into your cabin.
Even though there’s plenty of misery and darkness on the record, at its heart it’s a catchy, no-nonsense death metal album, and at times simplistic in the best way. At the end of “Hand of Vengeance” a simple chug is expertly punctuated by cracking drums, bringing to mind hardcore elements of bands such as Black Breath and Xibalba.
The band also make space for the classic tropes of death metal; on “Wraith of Death” Frozen Soul probably sound at their most typical of the genre, but it is this balance of finding melody in the simple fundamentals which really makes this record stand out. For me personally the thing that I think Frozen Soul have got down to a tee is their timing, when to switch up the pace and when to slow it down. As a listener you can only take so much of the relentless riffing, and just as you think your brain is about to tap out the quintet switch things up and introduce a slow break down which will give you the strength the smash your way out of this frozen tomb.
Crypt of Ice may not warm your cockles but it will give you one hell of a neck ache, and if this is merely the debut full-length offering from this outfit, then you can add Frozen Soul to the pile of incredible heavy bands coming out of the Lone Star State – because our tongues will be stuck to them for a while.
Crypt of Ice is out now via Century Media and can be ordered here.
Words: Tim Birkbeck