Review by Larry Paterson
Label: NoiseArt Records
Release Date: 30 August 2013
1. Winter’s Call
3. Quest For Glory
4. No Turning Back
5. Dawn Of Despair
7. Ruins Of Defeat
8. Unwritten (Engraved In The Stars)
A four piece (they don’t appear to have a permanent bassist), FROSTTIDE hail from Jyväskylä, Finland and describe themselves as a Melodic/Folk Metal band. So, before I begin the review (my first for MSF as I am a new boy), I’d like to point out that I have no particular love for squeezing bands into tiny sub genres and generally I actually have no idea what the sub genre actually means. For me, I like metal….and as sacrilegious as that may seem to people that basically goes from AC/DC to Sepultura, stopping at all good points in between.
So what do we have here……
‘Winter’s Call’ opens the album; a truly beautiful piece of music that would not out of place on the big screen providing a soundtrack to imagery from Lord Of The Rings, or perhaps more appropriately, the viking film Pathfinder. Which makes the arrival of ‘Awakening’ all the more spectacular. Huge riffing from both guitars and bass, coupled with tight drumming to punctuate and accentuate every beat, kicks proceedings off. The keyboards sit in the background providing an orchestral vibe throughout the album, occasionally coming to the fore for some of the instrumental passages, but never overpowering the sound. Vocally, Joni Snoro has the kind of snarl that may not appeal to everybody, but fits the feel of this band perfectly and helps to keep the feel dark and intense. There is not huge variety in the vocal delivery, but with so much going on around them they never outstay their welcome and as they fit so well, they become a strong point of the band. Guitarist Juho Patinen provides backing vocals that match Joni’s and beef up proceedings here and there.
‘Awakening’ is well constructed and atmospheric and leads perfectly to ‘Quest For Glory’ which has a main riff that perhaps showcases the folk element of FROSTTIDE’s style. ‘No Turning Back’ follows with a small drum intro and at 2:44 has my favourite tempo break on the whole album. Yet again the riffing has perfect precision, the slower orchestral passages never outweighing the weight of the faster parts.
‘Dawn Of Despair’ provides an interlude of more atmospheric soundtrack style music, before ‘Siege’ kicks in with swelling riffs and solid double bass drums. Probably my favourite track on the album; tons of atmosphere and perfectly played. I also can’t claim to be able to follow the lyrics on all the tracks, but can hear them best here on ‘Siege’, bringing the album’s theme story to life more for me. The entire album is a concept piece, according to vocalist Joni, telling the story of a group of warriors who go to the aid of a village facing an enemy invasion (this is taken from the NoiseArt Records website). ‘Ruins Of Defeat’ comes next, with its stronger hints of folk in the main riff again. Love the riff/drum interplay that sit either side of the vocal passages. I’m guessing with a title like that, that things may not have gone so well for the group of warriors.
They save their longest track until the end, ‘Unwritten (Engraved In The Stars)’ clocking in at over 14 minutes (although the last minute appears to be silence…unless my battered hearing is missing something). Personally I am not always a fan of extremely long tracks unless they have something special to say. It seems that since the days of Metallica’s ‘Justice’ album many bands have felt the need to pad tracks out and make them longer when a more direct ‘trimmed’ version could work better. However….this one does indeed work. A song of many parts; blast beat drums alternate with tasty progressive bits of unusual time signatures, but all moving the song forward rather than feeling like an exercise in cleverness. Mass melodic vocals, tight and interesting riffs, time changes, orchestral keyboards, acoustic guitar, an achingly emotive piano piece….all combine to give a brilliant end to a great album.
FROSTTIDE formed in 2009 and released their first EP, ‘Dawn Of Frost’, the following year. ‘Awakening’ is their debut full length album and it bodes incredibly well for their future.
Joni Snoro (Vocals, Guitar)
Juho Patinen (Guitar, Backing vocals)
Joonas Nislin (Drums)
Felipe Munoz (Keyboards)
Lauri Myllylä (Bass player in Heidenfest 2013)