I'm going through this band's catalogue in the wrong order, as I reviewed their newest album a while ago, and received this one afterwards. Well, no can do. Frostbitten Kingdom is a Finnish group with six years of history, and operate in the fields between melodic, even atmospheric black metal and heavier death metal. This is the group's second full-lenght.
After the opening one-minute build-up track we get to the short tune "Towards the Battlefields," which opens up the album with speedy, violent beating. After this tune relying on a brisk pace and simplisticity, with some guitar solo and a few squealy notes to spice it up, we get to six minutes of "The Requim" which is a heavier and a lot more death metal-based track. The heavy rhythmic shreddings are balanced by some soothing synths far in the background, as well as the song's faster and a lot more energetic end with a good amount of solo-guitar action which rises its mood up. The following fourth tune could be said to follow the album's own "golden ratio," as it balances somewhere between the more atmospheric and almost melancholic emotions, aggressive guitar shreds and lighter, more energetic guitar action.
The songs switch and mutate between these elements throughout the album, until it reaches the eleven-minute epoch "Demise of the Suns." It ranges from some gentle, acoustic plucking to more death metal-based parts, and the overall slowly growing song structure eventually leads it to it's brisk and appealing high point around the seven-minute mark. After the build-up having reached it's zenith, the song slowly calms down until it's rather abrupt fade-out. The last song "Serene Closure" is what it's name promises, served in the form of a short and a bit cheesy but nonetheless effective synth outro. These choices give a good image of the group's daring and trust in their own vision; they go as far as they need to in order to carry out their vision. On the other hand, they must be congratulated for not resorting to instrument wankery even though they would've had what it takes; for example the drums carry out their beats with such effective simplisticity, I can only wonder how they kept themselves from choosing a more "brutal" and "extreme" style, and same goes for the entwining guitars in the slower and simpler parts.
I said above that the album balances between its different main "body parts," and although the songs seemingly succeed in this, the balance is a fumbly. The band hadn't yet found their style on this album, which causes it to be a collage of their ideas sewn to each other, and kept together by the amount of stylistical variation and the unifying soundscape which hold the listener from noticing these flaws too soon. The listener is kept busy thoughout the 40 minutes, and the album stays interesting for at least most of its lenght, but the bottomline is that the band just let themselves go too easy on this one; the songs' switches from heavier to calmer parts were thought out, as well as the need for the guitar leads and solos, but they weren't refined enough to sound natural and thus ended up partially sounding cruddy, even clumsy. The band had the zeal and the vision, but let it out in an unfinished form. Some of the compositional ideas and repeating riffs sound average and even usual, but they're executed with such zeal and honesty that they deliver their goods and emotions nonetheless.
The album's visual side is surprisingly pleasing, especially so for a self-financed album. The fittingly cold and detailed cover image visualizes the album title and provides a lot to see, and the insides hold all the necessary info. The visual contents recycle the cover image shamelessly and the album comes with no lyrics included. It is a disappointment, but the stylish band picture partially negates these negatives.
It's difficult not to judge this album from its follower's viewpoint, so I'll just say it aloud. This album shows a band who handle their instruments well and know how to create appealing and versatile tunes with an atmosphere, but also clearly shows that their ideas and composing skills were on a raw stage of development. It can also be said that they kept the bar too low when choosing the riffs, as although some riffs are near greatness, some are plain usual and even dull, which further divides the album. It also sounds a tad too safe, a fact which even the harsh growls and higher vocals couldn't change. This album is colder and more melodic than it's heavier follower "Infidel Angel," and overall more akin to melodic black- than death metal. If you enjoy Dissection, Immortal and death metal, you might want to check this one out.