September 13, 2011

Review "The Old Prophecy Of Winterland" in Rock Freaks (English)

Here is the link to the review:

Given that our extreme metal aficionado Ellis Woolley is currently swamped with work and so able to get through fewer reviews, the task has befallen me to cover a number of releases that would otherwise reside in his area of expertise. Given my increasing fascination by black metal, it is thus with a profound sense of intrigue that I enter hitherto unfamiliar territory and attempt to assess Madrid based black metal band Frozen Dawn's debut album, "The Old Prophecy of Winterland".

As its title might suggest, the album explores a conceptual universe called Winterland, a cold, merciless domain immersed in eternal chaos and darkness. Sound familiar? That's because Immortal envisioned it some 20 years ago and dubbed it the realm of Blashyrkh, and have since written all their material around it. As such, there can be little doubt regarding where Frozen Dawn draw their inspiration from: Norway. Indeed, old Norwegian influences run rampant on this 50 minute epos, with clearly audible nods to a wide selection of bands such as Darkthrone and Satyricon present in almost every song - that the band decided to include a cover of the latter's "Fuel for Hatred" in the end of the album should then come as no surprise.

But while readers familiar with the two aforementioned groups will undoubtedly be able to map the sound of Frozen Dawn with formidable precision, newcomers to the genre are likely to be less able to do so, and demand an explanation. Suffice it to say then that Frozen Dawn have managed to capture the raw yet powerful sound of those bands and given it a sharp production that black metal truists will find blasphemous, while those of us accustomed to a clear separation of channels will rejoice its modernity. The riffs remain coarse throughout, but thankfully not at the expense of dark, ominous leads, which give the album its mysterious and foreboding character. In the rhythm department, arrangements reside predominantly mid-tempo territory, and range from groovy black n' roll heaviness to punishing double pedal sections lead by traditional tremolo riffs.

Considering the band's Southern origins, it is surprising how accurately Frozen Dawn have been able to encapsulate the mood of their Norwegian predecessors. But at the same time, the band's traditional approach leaves little room for innovation and, sadly, distinction. Sure, it's not the pick of the litter either, but having recently witnessed even a relatively new entrant like Djevel breathe new life into the genre without offending its establishment, "The Old Prophecy of Winterland" suffers from a lack of courage. As such, it is a solid album recommended for fans of both blackened thrash and traditional black metal, but it won't be making any headlines or stirring up critical acclaim.