Review | Frozen Crown-Winterbane
`Winterbane’’s predecessor `Crowned in Frost’ was quite an interesting exercise putting the band around Giada Etro and Federico Mondelli on the map. Gothic tinged symphonic metal with a nesting melodies and sublime musical craftsmanship. One of many, so to say, but Frozen Crown didn’t settle for mediocrity and clearly was aiming for the top ranks of the genre. `Winterbane’ is their third effort and we see the duo regenerating, not only their entire line up, but their sound as well.
PUSHING THE ENVELOPE
Right from the opening of ,,Embrace The Night” it becomes clear that Federico and Jade (Giada) mean business. Thunderous progressive drums and buzzing riffs propel the track, and (still in place) piercing melodic fretboard exercises swirl through your speakers opening towards heavy belted melodic metal. Jade adds power to the plate pushing the envelope. Staccato breaks implemented in the slick melodies of the song’s bridge make it an interesting composition. Trademark slick chorus tops it off in finest Frozen Crown tradition.
Federico and Jade break from the typical restraints of the scene with panache. Especially the fierce guitarwork is finger licking beautiful and the interaction between new guitarist Fabiola Bellomo and Mr. Mondelli is impressive. ,,Angels In Disguise” is pulled by the same intense progressive drums and scattering riffs. Highly melodic it progresses with close harmony riff-vocal interaction. When the band shakes of the progressive elements they deliver heavy metal at its melodic best. Larger than life choruses and slick nesting melodies (,,Towards The Sun” and the ominous ,,Crown Eternal”) are key.
,,Night Crawler” features classic metal elements and is fused with typical Frozen Crown melodies, much as if Downing/Tipton where contacted for metallic guidance. The song oozes a genuine 80s feel and midway breaks into a Maiden-esque ‘spoken word’ section adding to the classic posture of the track. It breathes a genuine fan-like atmosphere. Judas Crown galore. Going full throttle, the band executes impressive thrive, out of their direct comfort zone. Musically it tings but Etro has to break onto unknown territory and step up more forcefully. Not always suiting the tenure of the track even though she impresses with her range and pristine power. For my feeling the mix of galloping drums and scorching solos doesn’t line up to her (isolated) voice. ,,Far Beyond” falls prey to this incoherent overall sound or isolation.
,,The Lone Stranger” reverts to their `Crowned…’ days musically. Epic and hymnic, but stripped from the dense symphonic elements and layers. ,,The Water Dances” features a Celtic folk undertone adding to the lyrical predictable content. It adds up, but its vocal line and melody are striking my ‘tralala’-nerves too often, too deep. Too slick and predictable. I’ve heard it before and doesn’t add up for `Winterbane’.
After the epic folk intro ,,Tales Of The Forest” Frozen Crown spawns their epic track ,,Blood on the Snow”, blending all of the band’s trademark ingredients with the new élan of `Winterbane’. Scorching riffs, progressive breaks over intense grunts are opening to Jade’s mega melodic towering vocals. The intensity of the song increases in the first section of the track. Passing the 6-minute mark it delves more technical and blast beats and heavy trashy screaming deepen the dark edge of the song. Jade’s pitched chorus and the insane nesting melodies and riffs and display the band’s tremendous thrive and musical marksmanship.
SEARCH FOR IDENTITY
`Winterbane’ reveals Frozen Crown’s search for identity in sound and style. The album progresses in unlikely fashion and it is Mondello’s playing and (especially) Giada’s vocals that are the focal points. Embarking onto unknown territory the duo sees challenges but in general succeeds blending styles on their quest. Great moments such as the opening ,,Embrace The Night”, ,,Angels In Disguise” and the album closer are top shelf. Unfortunately, there’s minor misses making the album come across somewhat unstable. Especially in today’s scene, with hordes of genre like releases sprouting weekly, a gamble, but given the thrive in search of their core sound it is forgiven. There’s simply too much more to look forward to.