SOUNDS OF THE TEXAS UNDERGROUND
“Encased In Ice” by Frozen Soul—a review
by Ryan A Vasquez
Whether this Ft. Worth five piece originally decided to present their themes of “cold” and “ice” on a metaphoric level or performance-based, Frozen Soul managed to cover every angle of this EP experience from beginning to end, riff after riff, right down to the artwork…in ice.
Looking at this incredibly sick ink drawing—by an artist who has yet to be identified—I notice the small staircase leading to a front doorstep of such a decaying and deathly-looking temple, which seems to be made entirely of rotting human bones.
I imagine this is the front entrance to a place of punishment and isolation to be dwelled in by those who lived their life with cruelty and hate in their soul. A person that was unforgiving and never showed any sense of compassion, reasoning or mercy.
As it was in life, so shall it be in death. To see this palace of bone and suffering means your soul is doomed to spend eternity alone, in darkness and encased in ice.
The opening riff contributes as a definite extension to the grand cohesion of ice flowing in their veins and piles of frost where a heart once sat. It sounds like the beginning of a very long and cursed afterlife sentencing.
Yet, as we move farther into the opening track “Encase In Ice,” I’m reminded of Obituary at the turn of the ’90s with “Cause Of Death” and “The End Complete” the way the slow-sludge opening groove is crafted.
On the other hand, newschoolers and millennials that may not be familiar with the founding fathers of death metal may perceive this differently considering how similar these guitar patterns have a “hardcore” writing style to it.
Without the vocalist singing just yet, I see both influence perspectives as accurate.
Once the vocalist begins his delivery on the track, it will set the tone for the entire EP.
I’ve heard this brand of vocals before in Mortician, Incantation and Immolation but fused with the recording practices of black metal Norway where more Satan and less triggers are a studio standard.
Three quarters into the opening track at 2:58, we have the pleasure of listening to someone getting stabbed repeatedly with force you can practically feel. At this point if the listener isn’t convinced how cruel this track is, first degree murder audio evidence is a little more persuasive.
What caught my attention most about the upbeat circle pit-prone second track, “Hand Of Vengeance,” was at 2:40 where the riff changes into a slower sludge build-up, keeping you waiting until they unleash this dirty little sin of a groove that had me want to throw things against the wall.
I imagine the following track and Mortician cover, “Witches Coven,” wouldn’t be any better to control the behavior, especially at a house party where somebody will more than likely be thrown through a window during this song.
Once again a cold-blooded build-up groove riff leads us off in the fourth and final track, “Merciless,” then explodes with the hate of an up-tempo circle pit frenzy at about :49. The energy is vibrant, everyone is driving this song hard and then we get one last signature riff change starting at 1:50 in the fashion this Ft. Worth powerhouse is branding this EP with.
I’m looking forward to a sense of consistency with this design of breaking riff changes that isolates the guitarist the way they’ve been doing in this EP that leads the rest of the rhythm section to help build then tear it down.
This strategy of writing has become their brand of attack that absolutely works for their sound and gives the audience something more to grasp and recognize among other bands. I can’t wait to have the same ice-cold fix on the next recording.
I’ve chosen the final track “Merciless” as Editor’s Pick for exhibiting their most furious riff writing in this collection but even more notable—the way they drive it home after the delivery from the mid-song riff change which made me want to pickaxe my way through solid sheets of ice…or drywall, whichever stood in my way first.
Frozen Soul managed to maintain freezing conditions throughout the entire EP and I am not surprised Maggot Stomp acquired this amazing addition to their roster of already amazing underground heavy hitters. I absolutely recommend this EP for all heavy tastes and I can’t wait for the next release.
The EP “Encased In Ice” is officially RATED RV—PIT TESTED, RoM APPROVED.
For more info about shows, merch and music, visit their Facebook page here or visit their Bandcamp page: https://maggotstomp.bandcamp.com/album/encased-in-ice