Frozen Soul hail from Texas in the United States and this demo is the first of hopefully more releases to come. From the band’s title, I was expecting some sort of frigid black metal but I was pleasantly surprised by the down and dirty death metal I got instead. Though this demo is only 4 songs long, clocking in at about 15 minutes, I found it an enjoyable listen from start to finish. This band also has a distinctly old school sound, their riffage a clear homage to bands like Cannibal Corpse, Mortician, and Incantation. Though the album is far from unique, it most definitely tickles my fancy and is a relatively easy listen comparatively to something like Pissgrave, which I reviewed recently.
The guitar tones on Encased in Ice are warm and the drum sound thick and almost muted. I particularly love the thick snare drum that almost sounds like the drummer is mashing on a large trestle table. Overall, the production on this album is extremely inviting, with great bass and vocal tones to top it off.
The album kicks off with the title track, a brooding and icy riff accompanied by eerie wind sounds. The slow build up brings to mind images of a desolate and frozen landscape. From what I can make of the lyrics I seem to be on par with the band’s intentions. As we head into the Incantation-esque riffing, the band settles into its sound. What we hear in the first song is more or less what you can expect from the rest of the album: brutal, crushing death metal riffs that you can’t help nodding your head to. The song is abruptly broken up by a sample that I can only describe as someone being brutally murdered with some sort of sharp object. Classic. Then it comes back in with a half time feel, which might induce an “Elon Musk smoking on a blunt”-like expression to your face. You might find this expression returning a few times over the course of this album.
As Encased in Ice crushes forward we hear some great riffing coming through in track two, “Hand of Vengeance”. Though Frozen Soul might not be redefining the death metal genre, they definitely know how to do it right. Some of the riffing in this track gives me hints of The Chasm, partially to do with the almost classical nature of the riff writing but also the murky and warm texture of the music. Though The Chasm is more heavily washed with reverb something in this track reminds me of them and as far as death metal influences go, it is one of the more underutilised influences I hear in modern death metal.
Track three greets us with an almost expected cover of Mortician’s “Witches Coven”. The initial odd, creepy, and twinkling intro seems more clean and audible than on the original and the bass tone seems to follow this trend, forgoing the classic distorted bass tone that we have come to associate with Mortician. I am not usually a fan of exact-copy covers and I don’t know if it’s just the warmer fidelity of the Frozen Soul version, but I might actually enjoy listening to the cover version more than the original. For any Mortician fanboys out there, please don’t send me hate mail; if your recording doesn’t sound better 23 years on, then I think that would be the more disturbing revelation. Though there isn’t too much to say about this that hasn’t been said about Mortician before, I particularly love the sound of the bass and drums playing together as the song starts. The final track of the album, “Merciless”, brings us more of the same, but in this case, I use this statement positively.
Throughout my review of this album, I continuously found myself finishing this album and putting it on again, maybe because it’s short but I also feel like I can’t quite get enough. Encased in Ice is a solid death metal release, especially if you are partial to the old school stuff. The demo is only $4 in Bandcamp, less than a beer, so if you are a death metal fan and a Bandcamp collector then don’t miss this one.
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You can grab a digital copy of Encased in Ice from Maggot Stomp’s Bandcamp page. They also have a second pressing of cassettes available for this release.
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