If black metal is a genre that conjures images of the snow-swept Scandinavian landscape, the crunch of ice under your feet as you creep through a forest so absolute in its darkness that the black of night seems almost fluid, consuming the environment around you, then by comparison death metal is all about sweltering intensity, gasping for air beneath a mountain of bodies as the battle still rages around you in a realm of perpetual humidity. In atmosphere if not in sound, the music of Fort Worth five-piece Frozen Soul seems to operate somewhere between these two disparate planes. Though strictly death metal in execution, the band’s music conjures the icy spirit of Norway and wields it without an ounce of subtlety, hammering thunderous glacier-sized blows down like an apocalyptic halestorm.
Despite hailing from Texas, someone has struck the band through the heart with an icy stake. Since their formation in 2018, Frozen Soul have invested themselves in all things hibernal. Their 2019 demo Encased In Ice, and the subsequent time they spent on the road, was enough to see the band signed to Century Media, who recently released the band’s hotly anticipated full-length debut Crypt Of Ice, a thunderous record that has rightly made them the death metal band of the minute. Naturally, we reached out to the band to find out more.
“In a world on fire sometimes you have to do your best to stay cold,” says vocalist Chad Green. “Life’s cold sometimes and we write about how it is and how it can be.” The way the band have tapped into this wintry aesthetic is second-to-none. Not only does the artwork and icicled logo of their debut help draw you into their icy world, but the record’s cold-blooded production ensures that a chilly atmosphere hangs over every riff like a thick persistent fog.
This atmosphere keeps their sound fresh despite some retro influences that see the band join the likes of Tomb Mold in the current crop of OSDM revivalists. “Mostly we look towards the old school for influence,” reveals Green. “But our friends and bands we love definitely help influence who we are.” Comparisons to classic bands like Bolt Thrower are apt, particularly in the chugging stomp of the title-track or the rapid-fire assault of ‘Faceless Enemy’, but it is Frozen Soul’s unique concept that allows them to stand out.
The frostbitten lyrics pervade throughout Crypt Of Ice, refusing to let the sun shine through for even a moment. It’s a theme that has been built upon from their demo, one bound together by an element of fantasy. “There’s a loose concept around an entity called the Wraith of Death that seeks out the souls of people who have done unspeakable things,” explains Green. “The souls are obtained by vengeance and death.”
This concept is no doubt inspired in part by the band’s interests, given that Green and guitarist Michael Munday originally met over a game of Magic: The Gathering and bonded over a shared love of video games. “Games are a huge part of our lives and influence us creatively a lot,” Green tells us. It’s easy to see where these influences could have come – the snowy peaks of Skyrim, the enchanting Boreal Valley of Dark Souls III and the beast-infested realms of the Monster Hunter World: Iceborne expansion are just a few examples of captivating wintry sights capable of hijacking your imagination.
But delving beyond this fantastical core, the frozen world of the band’s music is more than mere set dressing. Right now the real world often feels like it’s on fire and, in recent years, has been quite literally on fire on multiple occasions. The biting cold of frost can be just as ruthless as the blazing heat of a fire, sure, but given the state of the world right now perhaps there’s something cleansing and purifying about ice and the notion of freezing. Ice can be cruel and destructive, but it can also numb pain and quell a blaze. It’s certainly something the band are using as a metaphor. “Our lives have been poured into this,” says Green. “[In our music] there’s a lot to do with depression, whether it’s living through it or falling victim.”
Within the band’s music there may be no chance of the frost beginning to thaw, but that doesn’t have to be the pessimistic take away it seems. In the real world, brighter days are ahead. In fact, the band are already planning tours for the end of 2021. “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” Green says with hope. “We just have to be safe and patient!”.
Crypt Of Ice is out now on Century Media.
Words: George Parr