Frozenpath - Apocalyptic Winter - 3/5
I can`t believe it! My one shot at finding decent South African Black Metal and I get this! I`ve had high hopes for this album, but I my first thought on listening was "...eh...". But the reader should keep in mind that I`m not the biggest Symphonic Black Metal fan and I also have some other predjudices that play a role.
I`ll start with the superficial bits. The album cover is, in itself, a piece of art. A shot of a misty mountain paired with the names "Frozenpath" and "Apocalyptic Winter" awakens expectations of a mystical, empowering ride through the mind of a true pagan. I was expecting this AND much more. How wrong I was.
When the intro started playing I was still being put under a false impression. Dramatic piano along with the usual choir-sounds that we come to expect of Symphonic music. But from the first track it all goes horribly wrong. The overall atmosphere is still in the region of "Symphonic" for the first part of the album, yet later in the album, in "2012: A New Day Of Empery", for example, one gets the distinct impression that Symphonic BM has suddnely turned into Metalcore. Instead of good, solid tremelo picking, we get riffs that are more comparable to Bring Me the Horizon than to Emperor. It`s that all-too-familiar feeling that the band has run out of good ideas but someone insisted on adding another track.
The drumming is of acceptable standard, though you do start feeling like telling Vinter that there are other drums than the bass-drum, later on. The guitarring is nowhere near good enough, though. Instead of supporting the feel of the music it tries to take centre stage and fails miserably, I might add, since there is only one leading instrument in this composition and possibly the biggest compliment to the whole operation: the keys. Finely placed, often sinister sounding keyboard dominates the entire project, often in the form of pure piano. It`s the only part succeeding in giving you that cold sensation that you expect on seeing the cover. But in the end one instrument can`t make up for an entire, decidedly sub-par ensemble.
Finally, I have one last complaint: the vocals. The first 30 seconds or so of vocals are those basic, throat-produced screams that I have come to expect and adore in Black Metal, but it all falls apart when, for some unknown reason, Vinter adds that disgusting abomonation of a sound that is the Grindcore gurgle. I cannot stress how much I hate that sound, but this is my own predjudice, if you can look past, or even like, it, this album is for you.
There`s nothing majorly wrong in this album. If one of these tiny mistakes were made I would be able to look past it but, sadly, there are just too many tiny mistakes. A build-up of insignifigant splinters of imperfection pull together to make the stake that deals the final blow, through the albums heart. If you really like your BM - you might like this; if you`re looking for perfection - look elsewhere.
Highlights: Frozenpath, Putrid Possession