Review by Mike Paradine
Band: FROZEN BY FIRE
Album: The Quickening
Release date; August 2013
Label: FBF Records (self release)
1) Die Like a Man
2) The Quickening
3) The Unknown
4) Stranger Daze
5) Wrecking Time
6) Powerline Road
7) Whip Cums Down
8) You Make Me Feel Alive
9) Driving Me Insane
10) Land of the Free
11) Never Coming Home
Ever have one of those days where you want to punch the world square in the face? Well that’s the kind of week I’m having around here. The roof leaks, having to attend, not one, but four funerals, the typical crap at work and having people not follow easy instructions, are just some of the events I had to deal with these past seven days. But the one thing that sent me over the edge is something I haven’t done in over 30 years. I spilled my beer. Yes, I can honestly say that. It’s something that I took pride within myself for not doing all these years. Today, I came home, opened a packaged that I received last week from Las Vegas and ripped it open, knocking over a quarter filled bottle of precious beer. You could have stabbed me in the eye with the pointed end of a stick and I wouldn’t have felt as bad as I do right now! Now, being in a pissed off mood is not the way to review a new CD that you just have been given, but I’ve waited long enough and I have a job to do.
I emptied the contents of the mailing envelope onto my desk and it doesn’t make me feel any better. The band is called Frozen by Fire and the album is titled, “The Quickening”. “Great, just what I need today, another cliché ridden band”, I thought to myself. The bands name isn’t bad but not original either. I guess they were trying to do the Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest, Ying Yang kind of thing but I would have tried for something more imaginative.
Throughout the decades since metal has been began, I’ve seen countless bands with albums such as “The Beginning”, “The Awakening”, and all other types of “ing” titles and here is another one. Just what the hell does “The Quickening” mean? Are the songs really fast or are they really short? Is the album only a few minutes long or does the band like to drink Nestles Quick when on stage? The word isn’t in the dictionary or in a thesaurus. Oh Gawd, please…no!!! I take the shrink wrap off the jewel case and I just don’t see my day getting any better in this very near future.
Before I inject the CD into my player, I quickly glance at the small press release that they sent along with the album. They list Metallica, Maiden, Guns N Roses, Judas Priest and Motley Crue as main influences. That’s a bit of a diverse spectrum and I’m interested to hear if this is somehow accomplished. I’m just hoping this CD doesn’t bring me to the abyss.
“Die Like a Man” leads off the album with some very traditional, double guitar metal riffs followed by a hard hitting double bass and rhythm guitar attack. Joblin’s vocals come tearing in and I am immediately reminded of Chris Von Dahl , singer of LA Guns on the “American Hardcore” album. Guitars add in some of the classic Zakk Wylde guitar squeals to add a little flavor to the song but as with Zakk it gets a little annoying after awhile. Very cool vocal patterns and the structure compliments the band and the song works very well. A nice melodic guitar solo brings the song together and gives the listener another dimension to the song..nice work….like it a lot..
Some shredding and guitar sweeps start off “The Quickening”. With Paul Di Anno inspired vocals, the song has several changes that commands the listener to closely follow the music. It is a solid, interesting song with more easy to follow vocal melody lines. The song ends with some of the most controlled chaotic guitar leads I’ve heard in a long time.
Third on the album is the over used title, “The Unknown”. Straight off, the razor sound of guitars comes from Motley Crue‘s “Too Fast for Love” album. The song has a more progressive feel, more than the other two but not for the better. The song seems to get lost within in itself when they slow down the time change.
“Stranger Daze” begins with the slow, melodic guitar structure that brings me back to the 1980’s Hollywood metal scene, but not in bad way. More Motley Crue influence especially in the vocals, are definitely noticed here. This song sounds like it could have been plucked from the middle of any album from early bands in the LA 80’s metal scene. Vocals seem a bit wobbly in spots and could have been stronger but I do like the overall song.
Bassist, Ricky Pasket hits the spotlight beginning on the song, “Wrecking Time”. Fast drum beats, and a more hardcore sound change the vibe of the album up to now. Some Anthrax and Megadeth features are evident here and some of the albums better guitar leads are showcased here.
Now it comes to the part of the show where we bring up the sensitive side of the band with the song, “Powerline Road”. Just when I think that I’m going to hear the same countless cliché power ballad, Frozen by Fire actually brings some originality to the genre. Not the typical sappy vocal line but an interesting even keeled, roller coaster ride of melody. Another throwback to the 80’s LA rock sound.
With a nod to Slade in the spelling department, “Whip Cums Down” leads off with a generic but energetic rhythm but with progressive drumming from Brian “Frosty” Foster. Vocals seem a bit disconnected and a bit shakey in spots here and the drum volume sometimes overwhelm the music. Again, a lot of early Motley Crue is heard especially MC’s first demo. Joblin, as throughout the album, plays some really good and memorable guitar leads.
“You Make Feel Alive” is, you guessed it, a love ballad complete with piano. Sometimes the vocals fit the song perfectly as in the chorus but otherwise seems too harsh sporadically throughout the song. There doesn’t seem to be any continuity throughout the vocal range. Plus there’s some screaming towards the end that totally needs to be redone. It’s a cool song but they should have worked on it a lot more and given it a more polished sound.
At first it seems we’re heading into the same vibe as the previous song but it soon picks up in “Driving Me Insane”. A compelling drum beat built with snare drum fills simultaneously playing above bass drum beats fuel the rhythm right along. Some hard hitting metal is showcased here flavored with guitar leads that are picked from Van Halen to Maiden but again the Crue touch is felt. More catchy melodies, but I could do without the vocal dive bomb in the chorus.
Ok, now it’s becoming quite apparent that these guys love Motley Crue. On the next number, “Land of the Free”, they completely lifted the sound and riff from “On with the Show” from MC’s first album. More of the same catchy chorus melodies and quality musicianship. But once again we have some high registered screams that are completely off. I would have edited those out as it becomes painful to listen to.
Lastly we have “Never Coming Home”. With some Pantera inspired metal to bring the sound to the forefront, we have some excellent guitar patterns which are very imaginative. A break in the song slows it down a bit but it lets us enjoy the razor wire guitar solo which is a pleasure to hear.
Frozen by Fire composes some very original music by throwing all their influences into one pot, with Motley Crue the dominating flavor and making it all work. The musicianship is top notch and they do write vocal lines that compliment the music. Very good work here. My only problem with the band is with the vocals mostly. Sometimes the vocals fly off the rails and it becomes a bit hard to listen to. This seems to happen more towards the end of the album than the beginning. It’s as if he sang the whole album all in one day and started to sputter out toward the end. They need just to smooth out all the rough spots and that can easily be done with a good producer. Also, sometimes the drum volume seems to over take the rest of the music. It swallows up the bass and guitars which then make the drums too up front from time to time. I know myself that being in an original band costs a lot of money but my only suggestion would be, even if it takes an extra year before recording the next album, save the money and get a good producer. They don’t have to get a big name producer but someone knowledgeable to polish it up just a bit. I like this band a lot. I find it quite refreshing that they do have that touch of LA/Hollywood, sound but add in some semi progressive movements in their songs, which makes it sound familiar but unique at the same time. This album just brought back a smile to my face and took the sting out of spilling my beer. Looking forward to what this band brings along in the future. Nice job!
The Joblin – Lead Vocals, Lead and Rhythm Guitars
Brian “Frosty” Foster – Drums
Ricky Pasket – Bass Guitar and Backing Vocals
Official website: http://www.frozenbyfire.com/