FROZEN SOUL: Crypt Of Ice
Release year: 2021
Label: Century Media
Ever since seminal UK death metal group Bolt Thrower threw in the bolt, I mean the towel, in 2016, their absence has been felt. Of course, already since before they called it a day, there were plenty of acts who followed in their footsteps. And after 2016, at the latest, more than a few artists have started exploring a similar style of crushingly heavy, primarily mid-tempo, boneheaded death metal… least of those being by no means Memoriam with former Bolt Thrower growler Karl Willets at the helm.
From the icy tundras of, well, Texas, hail Frozen Soul who, on their debut album, bring to the table a very respectable stab at the classic Bolt Thrower sound. Eschewing the war and tanks image for something with a bit of an icy fantasy twist, initially one might feel a bit weirded out by the combination… but it doesn’t take long before the quintet from Texas have the listener’s soul in their icy grip.
If you know your death metal – and why else would you be here? – then you’ll instantly have more than an inkling idea of what Frozen Soul sound like when I say “Bolt Thrower!” Yes, absolutely right: tungsten-grade heavy riffs delivered in songs that roll over you like a heavy tank with speeds of mid-tempo to upper mid-tempo, punctuated with the occasional speedier blast. The vocals are a gruff, aggressive grunting, and there’s this overall sense of… well, can’t say it better than “Bolt Thrower-y relentless onslaught”.
You might be thinking that there’s probably not a whole lot of originality here, no new ground broken on Crypt Of Ice. And you’d be right. On their debut, Frozen Soul certainly do not go boldly where no man has gone before. Instead, they take a very tested and true formula, a sound beloved by many people, and excel at it. And that’s no mean feat. With Crypt Of Ice, they deliver one of the best non-Bolt Thrower albums in the Bolt Thrower school of death metal – one where you don’t have to ignore how much they pale in comparison to Big B in order to enjoy the album.
As far as debut albums go, Crypt Of Ice is an admirably strong contribution. Not only is the style spot on, they’ve also come up with an album full of solid songwriting, bolstered by crisp and clear but heavy sound. There aren’t exactly an abundance of standout tracks here, true, but Crypt Of Ice is one of those albums you’re supposed to spin in one sitting, not cherry pick a track from here or there.
Of course, the Texans still have a ways to go if they’re to usurp the royal seat. Regardless of whether they’re ever going to do that, Crypt Of Ice is a damn fine slab of mid-tempo tank assault death metal, setting the bar pretty high for 2021 as far as death metal goes.