By Calen Henry. Ancient Ritual is the debut LP from Zagreb’s Frozen Forest. On it, in a way that seems almost unique to modern European bands, they’ve gone absolutely all out with both metal imagery and musical styles; with little concern for genre conventions and it rulesBy Calen Henry.
Ancient Ritual is the debut LP from Zagreb’s Frozen Forest. On it, in a way that seems almost unique to modern European bands, they’ve gone absolutely all out with both metal imagery and musical styles; with little concern for genre conventions and it rules. It starts with the album cover; a line drawing of a hooded figure, flanked by three reapers on horseback, prevailing over a ritual sacrifice on a bed of bones, wreathed in flame.
Coupled with ultra-metal track titles like “Devil’s Grin Retaliation” and “Spider Cures Fever” their presentation oozes Capital M Metal. The lyrics really seal the deal; a borderline nonsensical mix of black metal blasphemy, thrash/grind influenced nihilist anti-society vitriol and Death Metal English, it really touches on everything metal. Amazingly, it also flows in a bizarrely poetic way.
Frozen Forest’s aural assault is a tightrope walk between the swirling black metal maelstrom of bands like Misþyrming and the riff-driven snarl of Mgła. While their particular death potion is brewed from the same ingredients as others’ it’s not from the same cook book. Like their cherry picked visual and lyrical aesthetic, Frozen Forest unabashedly genre mix for a sound that really sets itself apart.
Below the maelstrom rumbles a gargantuan thrashy bass pounding things forward and sometimes even thundering into the lead, like the intro to "Isola Dei Morta". Above the storm ride soaring leads that often throw right back to 80s thrash and would feel out of place in a less skillfully mixed pot. The soloing is fantastic, showing all manner of technique (Tapping! YES!), and giving a melodic polish to the black metal burn.
Though the mix is generally on point for modern black metal, it’s is a touch too heavy on the low end. It’s excellent to have the bass present, but the overall mix gets a touch boomy. It’s by no means a deal breaker, but it’s noticeable.
Frozen Forest, at this point, seem to be firmly underground, which is a shame, because they’re unique spin on an increasingly crowded genre deserves to be heard.