Artist: Frozen Soul
Album Title: Glacial Domination
Label: Century Media Records
Date of Release: 19 May 2023
Sometimes, when you’ve had a bad day, you just need to let off some steam, and listen to some brutal, uncompromising music. You’ve had a bad day at the office, the Government do something else to wind you up, the kids or the in-laws are making life difficult, or, in my case, you’ve just been told that your dog has incurable cancer. Whatever it might be, only some heavy music will do, the kind of music that you can simply break stuff to. Enter Frozen Soul.
Hailing from Texas in the US, Frozen Soul return in 2023 with their sophomore release, ‘Glacial Domination’. And, in so doing, the quintet comprised of vocalist Chad Green, guitarists Michael Munday and Chris Bonner, bassist Samantha Mobley, and drummer Matt Dennard, have succeeded in being the perfect soundtrack to my current nightmare. My only company when I am without my children, the ‘Mutt Of Much Metal’ has been by my side…or curled up on one of the beds, fast asleep while I write my reviews. Is it any wonder that I want to be aurally bludgeoned, as I come to terms with the news?
An aural bludgeoning is certainly what you get when listening to ‘Glacial Domination’, too. Calling to mind the likes of Obituary, Bolt Thrower, and others of a similar ilk, Frozen Soul’s modus operandi is to revive the sound of ‘classic’ death metal, the kind that relies less heavily on blistering speed and overt technicality, and more on steamrollering the listener with huge molten riffs and gigantic grooves, all held together by tight, mid-tempo, floor-shaking rhythms. That’s not to say that Frozen Soul don’t dabble with faster material, because they most certainly do. And it’s not to say either, that they don’t have the technical ability, because they do. It’s just that this kind of extreme metal deliberately sounds like it does, favouring an old-school no-nonsense approach that offers a catchy and groovy listening experience as it clubs you to death.
One other misstep of note, however, is the title of the second track, ‘Arsenal Of War’. It’s a very good song, but it is ruined by the fact that I cannot, and will not, sing the title as it arrives within the song’s chorus. There is literally no way that a dyed-in-the-wool Spurs fan would ever choose to utter the name of their sworn rivals. So, unless the title of the song is changed to ‘Tottenham Of War’, it’s an immediate -5%…sorry!
Getting back on a more serious tack, and there is plenty to be impressed about here. It begins with ‘Invisible Tormentor’, an opening track that starts off with a cinematic vibe before launching into a swirling riff and swift drumming that’ll immediately have you wondering what on Earth I’m talking about when I say that Frozen Soul prefer their death metal to be slower and groovier; this opening blitz is anything but. However, the song soon settles down after the initial wailing and gnashing of teeth, bringing to bear a really satisfying guitar tone, hypnotic grooves, and wonderfully deep and guttural vocals. The lead guitar solo is pretty cool too, when it emerges towards the back end of the song.
There’s a faint Slayer vibe to the opening moments of ‘Death And Glory’, especially the wailing guitar that pierces the eardrums. You’ve got to love a pinched harmonic or two, and this track delivers wonderfully. However, it’s the mid-song lumbering stomp that is where the magic happens, a little reminiscent of that final riff from Machine Head’s ‘Davidian’. If it doesn’t make you want to get up and punch the wall, I don’t really know what will.
The cinematic intros are something of a theme for Frozen Soul, as ‘Morbid Effigy’, as just one example, uses nearly a minute of its four-minute life to build up the tension through dark, disturbing, and dystopian sounds that build, only to be pummelled into the ground by one of the fattest (or should that be ‘phattest’) riffs on the album. The fact that it is interspersed by moments of faster material, makes the crushing guitars all the heavier and more menacing, especially when they slow to the point that I wonder if my promo is misbehaving on me. The vocals at this point are right in the gutter too, and it’s a fabulously entertaining slab of molten death metal.
The synth-led mid-album interlude entitled ‘Annihilation’ dials the cinematic overtones to eleven, and in so doing, also reveals the hitherto hidden melodic sensibilities of the Americans. It lasts just under a minute, but I would have loved to hear how it could have been incorporated into a full-on metal song. Mind you, the follow-up is the title track and it’s definitely one of the most immediate tracks on the record, with a demonstrable Bolt Thrower-meets-At The Gates vibe, as well as being the song that highlights the bass guitar really nicely. At a push, I’d say it’s possibly my favourite song on the album, but thankfully, I don’t have to choose.
If I had another very small criticism, it’d be the same one that I have levelled at some of the other bands referenced in this review. And that’s that ‘Glacial Domination’ suffers a little in the variety stakes. It’s why I’m not a die-hard Bolt Thrower or Obituary fan. I enjoy a shot of both on occasion, as they both scratch that uncomplicated, brutal itch that we all have as metalheads from time to time. But I question whether I could listen to an entire album front to back, and then press play again straight away.
But hey, I might just be in a bad mood given my current circumstances. In which case, take this last criticism with a pinch of salt. Instead, focus on the fact that Frozen Soul have crafted a hefty slab of crushing, old-school death metal that has very few negatives, plenty of positives, and which could easily level your house if played loud enough. If this sounds like your thing, and you’re not a Spurs fan like me, add another 10-15% to my score. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a door to headbutt, and then a little dog to cuddle.
The Score of Much Metal: 80%