Texas. A state known for being absolutely-not frozen wastes; more the exact opposite. But frigid cold and darkness is exactly what you get with Frozen Soul’s debut, Crypt of Ice. It’s been heralded as one of the death metal releases to watch this year - no mean feat, given it’s only January and the sheer calibre of some of the other albums slated for release this year.
Their ethos seems to be to take all of their myriad influences - especially the legendary Bolt Thrower - and distil them all together to make something that draws from each of them without ever quite sounding like a clone of any. For the most part, Frozen Soul excel at this - though the Bolt Thrower worship is more than a little evident in skull-crushing riffage that also throw in shades of Obituary here and there.
Taking the promise of their demo, tidying up its tracks that all see inclusion here, the end result is ten tracks and nearly forty minutes of expertly-crafted death metal of a very old-school variety. Crypt of Ice is chock-full of killer riffs, chainsaw guitars, near-constant double bass rolls and a blackened, raspy roar that’s still very well enunciated. It’s nothing groundbreaking at all - there’s no prog wigouts, no weird left-field turns into jazz, blues, or any other genre for that matter but instead stands as proof that new music doesn’t have to break new ground. Treading old ground - and doing it well - is more than enough to write a killer record.
And make no mistake, this is a killer record. Frozen Soul deal in the kind of lean, muscular old school death metal that worships at the altar of Bolt Thrower without sounding derivative. There’s no frills, no fancy tricks and it is hard as nails. It’s hard to imagine this is a band not only on their debut but have existed for less than three years. If there’s to be any criticism at all, it would’ve been nice to hear even a little experimentation as some tracks are a little too close to their influences. This is splitting hairs though; for such a new band on their first album, Frozen Soul’s Crypt of Ice more than lives up to the hype. If you like your death metal old school and stuffed to the brim with evil (but not cookie monster) vocals, titanic riffing and thunderous drumming, capped off with crushing production, you need to hear Frozen Soul. An early contender for album of the year, certainly.
Crypt Of Ice is released January 8th via Century Media Records.