Album Review: Frozen Soul - Glacial Domination
Reviewed by Sam Jones
Frozen Soul have become one of the more hotly talked about bands in extreme metal as of late. Their recent tours have really opened people’s ears to their meteoric rise in the scene, especially after having seen them myself with Dying Fetus just three months ago. This is a band on the rise and, perfectly timed, Frozen Soul prepare to unleash their second full length work: Glacial Domination. Formed only in 2018, out of Texas, United States, Frozen Soul have climbed the ladder as a recognisable name very quickly and it can be immediately pointed to their debut Demo, released in 2019, titled Encased In Ice, deemed a seminal example of this modern explosion of death metal. The name of Frozen Soul has hung about for years but, it was in 2021 where many finally caught wind of what they were about, soon unveiling their first studio work: Crypt Of Ice. That was a record firmly affixed atop many people’s best works of that year and, now, two years on the band look poised to throw us another onslaught of their signature death metal style. There was no way I could reject the possibility to grabbing this record early.
If Frozen Soul have been compared with Bolt Thrower, then the similarities truly shine right from the outset as the band hurl us straight into the ice with a performance that champions the blistering, trudging nature their songwriting purports. The band’s prowess for taking their time is in full swing here, you can feel the seconds ticking away as riffs, drums and vocals allow us to wallow and sit amidst their ongoing assault. It helps to create an atmosphere that’s captivating and encompassing, aided by the totality that is their guitar tone. It isn’t so massive that each riff and chord feels suffocating to behold, nor is it’s weight so dense our shoulders can barely support it, their tone sits in just the right weight class to deliver the meat punch you’re after while enabling the audience to sit back comfortably enough that they can experience it all with ease. But, curiously, there are many times throughout this record where the band’s pace is noticeably faster and the band are taking us down a much more vicious and merciless journey than Crypt Of Ice attempted to do. Honestly, it’s nice to encounter more variety in the pacing which, naturally, opens doors for additional levels of intensity to present themselves through instrumental means.
Speaking of which, I feel like the drums have been brought into the forefront of the band’s performance in a vaster capacity than their debut studio work ever did. We’ve become accustomed to what Frozen Soul’s songwriting throws up, but herein the drumming feels much more refined, such as the rest of the production frankly and, therefore, the drums strike with greater, refined clarity so even the simplest of Tom-toms, resonating with crisp acoustics, feel wholly deliberate and intrinsic to the rest of their particular songwriting. In addition, the drums and riffs are more often than not twinned as one performance so, should a riff sequence hammer these grand chords down upon us, we’ll have just as mighty and thick a drumming section accompanying them. Not only does this give the drumming a heightened presence throughout individual tracks, but it binds the band together into a more cohesive, unified force where one element would lose significance should another become suddenly absent which, through Frozen Soul’s attention to detail, is a notion wholly void from their record.
If anything, the band’s variety in pacing can be attributed to how the guitar work has been given more freedom to perform however it pleases. I couldn’t help but feel like the production, or at least a different form of guitar tone, applied to this record has resulted in the band being able to deliver on that sense of speed and laceration far more effectively than Crypt Of Ice managed to convey. Granted, the band showcased speed during that record for they always have done yet, throughout the duration of Glacial Domination, that sense of speed feels far more intentional and in our faces than the first time round. I’d describe the guitar work on this record as possessing a more visceral, razor-blades aesthetic than simply the crushing, steamrolling soundscape Frozen Soul have been renowned for. It may devastate just the same yet the riffs feel to placed amongst a higher plane now; we may move further into the record yet there’s no waning of our attention nor is our engagement turning frail. It feels to be a rather minimal tweak of how their soundscape is thrust upon us, but it massively aids us in maintaining our fullest attention to the full Glacial Domination experience.
They say a band’s vocal element is just as important, if not completely crucial, to how an album is received by the listener. If such a rule is true, then the vocals are certainly amongst the more prominent and powerful within modern death metal’s annals. Now, one could say it’s evident Bolt Thrower worship through the application of a gruff, deep delivery that moves with its own pace but, that’s hardly a negative aspect in my mind. The vocal performance elicits that influence clear as day but, it still feels completely innate to Frozen Soul owing to how the vocals are intertwined with the overarching songwriting. What’s more, this record introduces us to more guttural and choking forms of vocal delivery, a la vie Dying Fetus, as frontman Chad Green demonstrates why he’s become such a figurehead in death metal these days. His trudging, methodical approach to vocals may evoke adoration for retro acts long respected, yet it’s clearly Frozen Soul’s identity that’s bursting forth as his vocals come coupled with the included songwriting and atmosphere. You can’t help but become engrossed in his performance, effortless it feels, as his vocal tone seamlessly matches that which the songwriting presents.
In conclusion, Glacial Domination is an album that excellently propels Frozen Soul’s established sound and takes it into new directions. The band’s methodical approach to death metal has been expanded upon, detailed with additional songwriting elements that sees their Bolt Thrower worship worked upon, throwing in greater swathes of speed and intensity and even a developed vocal performance that may certainly throw some through a loop. There’s clear evolution from Crypt Of Ice; while that record was pretty by the books for the band’s style of extreme metal, it’s great to see how the band really took it upon themselves not to simply replicate that first album all over again. A longtime fan could easily recognise the differences between the two albums, as Glacial Domination certainly evokes that sense of speed with firmer results. This isn’t a completely crushing affair and it benefits greatly because of that, giving us the room to breathe and move all the while the band bring down this hurtling devastation around us. This is the ideal sophomore album for a death metal act: give us more of what we want, but continue to refine and develop on what we’ve become accustomed to experiencing from them. If Frozen Soul keep this up, the band have a very bright future indeed.