Frostbitten Kingdom – The Winter War Symphony

FK Cover 1500x1500

The Winter War Symphony has had a battle all of its own in its journey to face the world, a turbulent adventure which finally comes to an end with its global release via Wormholedeath. The transfixing creation of Finnish extreme metallers Frostbitten Kingdom, the five track release is a breath-taking and epic exploration of a stark landscape within a grim world flooded with just as erosive and haunted emotions. Its title perfectly sums up the encounter and its rugged terrains of malevolent and brutal hostility aligned to an impassioned melodic and symphonic beauty, black and death metal combining for a gripping and ravenous dark emprise which shows no mercy for the senses but inspires the most vivid exploits in the imagination.

Hailing from Turku and formed in 2004, Frostbitten Kingdom drew on inspirations from bands such as like Dissection and Immortal as they explored and cast a sound drawing on Scandinavian black metal as well as US strains of death. From debut album Through Nightfall Storms and Sunless Dawns in 2007, the band was increasingly drawing attention at home, and as the Towards the Battlefields MCD of the following year, second album Obscure Visions of Chaotic Annihilation, and third Infidel Angel in 2009 and 2010 respectively continued the band’s emergence, tapping into a wider and broader spotlight. The latter releases also showed a stronger influence of American death metal, with essences of bands like Deicide and Immolation being offered as references. Their live presence equally drew potent interest and praise as Frostbitten Kingdom played with bands such as Bal-Sagoth, Solstafir, and Venom.

2011/12 saw the band concentrate on writing and recording fourth full-length The Winter War Symphony, with its release scheduled for 2013 through No Sign of Life, who had released the previous album. This was thwarted when already after a couple of delays, Frostbitten Kingdom read in a magazine of the sale of the label. With the new owners surprisingly not interested in releasing the album, a mystery such its majesty, and the loss of bassist and guitarist leaving the band as just H. Kanervo (vocals, guitars, keys) and S. Vainio (drums), things had stalled. Earlier this year though the band put The Winter War Symphony out as a promo, it swiftly earning acclaim and attention, including that of Wormholedeath who contacted Frostbitten Kingdom and struck a deal to digitally distribute the album worldwide. Long overdue but finally with the widest stretch of ears and imaginations available for persuasion, The Winter War Symphony is poised to stake its claim as one of the year’s triumphs.

Warfare & Wilderness begins the epic musical and lyrical narrative, its opening harmony of classical hues within orchestral elegance bewitching. Strings and keys transfix ears and thoughts, the melancholic air of the music as hauntingly emotive as it is gently portentous. Eventually its sorrowful beauty evolves into an equally melodic and tenacious roar but courted by stern riffs and sinister shadows, a tempest in waiting which breaks free when raw caustic vocals spark thumping rhythms and even heavier drama. Light and dark conflict and collude within the still mesmeric encounter, its climate darkening with every chord and melody yet still taking the listener on an invigorating and radiant flight.

The opener is a proposition which works away as forcibly on the imagination as ears, allowing thoughts to ignite their own adventure aligned to that of the band’s intent. The following muscular storm of The Battlefront is the same, though the blunt force and creative hostility of the track dictates the unveiling in song and mind predominantly. As in the first and subsequent songs, it is the varied sonic endeavours in the track which steals the passions most potently, numerous metal flavours stirring within the death bred confrontation igniting the unpredictable and fluid invention which fascinates and thrills across the whole of The Winter War Symphony. The visceral textures around the descriptive sonic and lyrical canvas only draws its recipient deeper into the dramatic heart of tale and release, a lure emulated by the glacial and threatening scenic tones of Sentinels of the Silent Tundra. Bestial elements prowl and intimidate from within the track’s barren yet engrossing bone-chilling climate. It is a harsh domain clouded with sublime melodies and an addictive sonic enterprise, leaving thoughts unsure whether to flee or embrace the soul freezing lands explored.

From the delicious opening hook of the outstanding Lost, Forgotten and Forlorn, ears and emotions are instantly enslaved so that even the subsequent cruel air and voraciously scarring diversity of vocals cannot defuse the appetite to immerse fully into the predacious and exhausting depths of the carnivorous squall. The track is quite scintillating, simultaneously savage and seductive as it ebbs and flows through an expansive and imposingly visual soundscape.

The album finishes within the gelid yet magnetic lures of Lucid Nightmares of Barbaric Brutality, the track a ferocious and barbarous examination of the senses and corrosive intent. Vocals and rhythms threaten whilst melodies and spicy grooves inflame from within the maelstrom of invention and hostility. There is no compromising with the song, or album come to that, but it does not need to with the scintillating craft and enticing imagination veining the challenging treat.

Now it has been uncaged, it is easy to expect The Winter War Symphony to push Frostbitten Kingdom to the fore of extreme metal. For such an impressive and rewarding onslaught they certainly deserve an intensive spotlight being shone their way.

The Winter War Symphony is available now via Wormholedeath through all good online stores.

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RingMaster 27/11/2014

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Thee Orakle: Smooth Comforts False

For all of the distinct positives and equally deep negatives the internet has had on music and bands, one of the greater goods to come from it is the accessibility of artists from countries and places far removed from the media given base and our own country borders. In recent months here alone we have come across stunning bands and releases from the likes of the United Arab Emirates, Russia, South America, and the Maldives to name just four. Bands and music that would have escaped attention before the internet grew its searching claws to go beyond the media force fed likes from the UK and the US. Though Portugal is not situated in the furthest reaches of the globe it is a place where music never really escaped far beyond its walls. So praise the internet for making that possible and for bringing the likes of Thee Orakle to the attention of a great many more, something the release of their excellent new album Smooth Comforts False should turn into an even greater and eager growing mass.

Formed in 2005, Thee Orakle soon built up a fine reputation in their homeland for their well crafted music. It was not long before their sounds made further marks with radio play overseas and a request to them to be part of a compilation release. 2007 saw their debut EP Secret released, more impressive live shows (over the years sharing stages with the likes of Bal-Sagoth, W.A.K.O., Heavenwood, Sirenia, Dark Tranquility, Cynic, Amon Amarth, Orphaned Land), and an increasing attention further afield with airing on further reaching radio shows and through other media vehicles but it was their heavily acclaimed debut album Metaphortime in 2009 that was the point they found themselves a bigger notable name on an ever swelling wave of enthused focus. Now following that up with Smooth Comforts False via Ethereal Sound Works, the band has returned with an even more majestic and stunning album. Their music is an inspiring and mesmeric blend of imaginative progressive metal laced and veined with heady jazz influences, Middle Eastern essences, and symphonic metal graces as well as senses riling metal, groove and tech metal intrusions. It is a mighty unpredictable feast that excites, intrigues, and consistently keeps one enthralled.

The album from the septet of vocalists Micaela Cardoso and Pedro Silva, guitarists J. Ricardo Pinheiro and Pedro Mendes, bassist Daniel Almeida, drummer Frederico Lopes, and Luís Teixeira on keys, is a release that bursts with ingenuity and imagination but weaves it all seamlessly into a musical maze for the deepest satisfaction. Where other bands experiment, many bring a disjointed or punchy intermittent mix which works for them but openly highlights each distinct diversion within the music. Thee Orakle bring all their ideas into a smooth and organic wave of aural beauty, and whether they go from beauteous flighted melodies into djented manipulations or from blood raging aggression into mesmeric ripples of smooth light, the result is always captivating and naturally flowing.

The album opens with Faraway Embrace and immediately it has the senses standing up and grinning with anticipation. The song paces with sturdy formidable riffs and commanding rhythms whilst the guitars entice with fleeting grooves. The keys expand and wrap themselves around the ear as the gruff growls of Silva rough up the edges of song and ear. The wonderful voice of Cardoso than enters to temper and compliment her harsher vocal companion and to walk hand in hand with the warm melodies. Midway the song steps to the side to enter an expressive progressive sound to gently coax and beckon one further inside the vibrant tech metal toned returning attack.
The excellent slightly schizophrenic Psi-drama enters next. The song begins with a sinister impressive tech metal/symphonic tone with again the mix between the two vocalists ideal and impressively worked out. The song along its length ventures into varied and always engaging asides, the song a maelstrom of intensity, surprising imagination and totally addictive, the jazz noir elements and lone soulful trumpet of Ricardo Formoso a pure joy.

Each and every song is masterful, the likes of the brilliantly enterprising and ear wrenching Evil Dreams, the gothic impassioned Winter Threat with the additional Type O Negative sounding male vocals of Marco Benevento (The Foreshadowing), and the irresistible The Bridge of the River Flowing with its ear whipping niggling metallic riffs and melodic caressing amongst the demanding aggressive intent, bringing complete pleasure.

The album produced by Daniel Cardoso, who is an impressive and emerging major force in metal, ends with its best track in Rescue of Mind. The track rampages and stomps from the off earning its right to full attention with an eager immediacy. As it pounds and explores the senses it ripples with skilled direction changes, gloriously crafted innovation , and striking invention, the dazzling mid jazz  off shoot soon merging wonderfully into the muscular mass, the song the proof of a band with the ability to create aural Masters.

Smooth Comforts False is one of the most striking and impressive albums this year, it provokes and thrills equally and is the most natural fit for the heart.

RingMaster 16/04/2012

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