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Sonic Perseverance - 86%

unblack_attack, December 21st, 2018
Written based on this version: 2018, CD, Nordic Mission

Many times in extreme metal we see a band struggle to get their first album out. Morbid Angel’s debut came after 10 years of building up a live repertoire, Mayhem’s “De Mysterii’s Dom Sathanas” didn’t arrive until after the death of its cornerstone member, and the sole album from Thorns came a decade after the band’s first demo. But none compare to the self titled debut from Frosthardr, arriving over 20 years after the bands initial formation. While they’ve seen a fair share of success via a trio of well received short form releases, numerous European tours and festivals and a pair of black metal documentaries, that oft-overstated debut full length seemed to always elude them – that is, until now.

Full of punk rock energy and a spirited performance from each instrumentalist, Frosthardr’s eponymous debut is not so much a thematic composition as it is a sincere decades-long chronicle of the band’s unrelenting perseverance. From start to finish the music personifies passion, adrenaline, and an overall sense of purpose. It's black metal in genre but on many levels it bears more similarities to '77 style punk rock and early 2000's post hardcore.

The production of Frosthardr is full of clarity for each instrument however it's also very stripped down and underproduced. It feels like there's only one layer for each guitar (instead of the traditional two or more), and because the tone of the guitars is razor thin most of the melodies are actually carried by the bass. The colorful riffing is a surprisingly effective combination of Darkthrone style long form black metal, Misfits-like punk rock, and a variety of post hardcore techniques not unlike the most popular AFI albums. This results it having more in common with modern black metal bands like Woe and Bosse-De-Nage than Burzum. The band utilizes a great deal of staccato and syncopation and relies heavily on it's rhythm section to carry the music, which is done effectively. The moods and soundscapes vary from song to song, ranging from major to minor and dark to light. Many of the moments utilize the scales and modes of traditional folk rock, giving it a viking like feel in many cases.

As the post metal trend seems to be in decline, it's unfortunate this album wasn't released a few years earlier as it would have garnered a greater amount of attention and praise. Still, fans of the style would greatly appreciate this passionate work from Frosthardr. The band's 20 years of endurance and experience is given a rewarding payoff with this great work of ages.