Glacial Domination

Century Media
rating icon 9 / 10

Track listing:

01. Invisible Tormentor
02. Arsenal Of War
03. Death And Glory
04. Morbid Effigy
05. Annihilation
06. Glacial Domination
07. Frozen Soul
08. Assimilator
09. Best Served Cold
10. Abominable
11. Atomic Winter

Two observations for you. Firstly, Texas is definitely the epicenter of death metal right now. Secondly, FROZEN SOUL are seriously special. Produced by TRIVIUM's Matt Heafy, and brilliantly so, "Glacial Domination" is the kind of authoritative and substantial album that death metal's new breed absolutely need to be producing, preferably as a matter of course. Likely to appeal as much to moaning old bastards who remember when "Realm Of Chaos" came out as it will to a rapidly growing younger audience of old-school filth fiends, the follow-up to 2021's rightly praised "Crypt Of Ice" has future classic written all over it.

What it boils down to is this: FROZEN SOUL have a sound that salutes the glory days of the early '90s while still sounding ruthlessly contemporary. Yes, the quintet owe a large and unapologetic debt to BOLT THROWER, but their second full-length demonstrates that their ambitions extend way beyond that, with a vital strain of songwriting that is slowly but surely establishing its own, destructive identity. "Invisible Tormentor" is the perfect opener: a heads-down and hostile statement of intent, it immediately upgrades the best moments from "Crypt Of Ice" and builds something fresh and weirdly distinctive from them. "Arsenal Of War" repeats that trick, with hooky refrains and an endless succession of great riffs fitted as standard, while the sub-three-minute "Death And Glory" is a deeply satisfying blast of abominable riff-craft.

The backdrop to all of this death metal excellence is Matt Heafy's intelligent and inventive production. FROZEN SOUL still tick every last death metal box and there is nothing remotely commercial about any of this, and yet "Glacial Domination" simply sounds bigger and better than any comparable release. Interspersed with evocative flurries of John Carpenter-esque retro-synth and macabre sound effects, these songs are truly old school in spirit, with all the lethal catchiness and unashamed simplicity that made those old BOLT THROWER, AUTOPSY and GRAVE records so influential in the first place. But the power and punch behind monstrous hymns to the black like "Morbid Effigy" and "Abominable" are unmistakably contemporary. Frontman Chad Green's vocals are crystal clear, too, and sit perfectly in the middle of FROZEN SOUL's steady barrage of overdrive and bottom end. In fact, this is one of the best sounding death metal albums in recent memory.

By the time closer "Atomic Winter" grinds to a chilling, grandiose conclusion, "Glacial Domination" has done its job. Death metal is in outrageously good health in 2023, but we can't just rely on legendary veterans to ensure its future. Straight out of Texas and plainly well-equipped for the long haul, FROZEN SOUL are hewn from the steely stuff of warriors and champions, and this is a devastating victory that no one sensible could disagree with.

Author: Dom Lawson
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