Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Memo to Producer: You’re Effing Fired - 73%

lonerider, October 3rd, 2017
Written based on this version: 1998, CD, Century Media Records

Sentenced’s 1998 release Frozen is a pretty severe case of “what might have been”-itis. Coming on the heels of the band’s popular Down album, Frozen saw the Finnish quintet continue their evolution from death metal over melodic death ‘n’ roll to (for lack of a better word) “gothic” metal/hard rock, this time infusing their sound with even more rock elements than before. Whereas the term gothic (hard) rock inevitably invokes names like Sisters of Mercy, The 69 Eyes and so forth, Sentenced always had their own signature sound setting them apart from most of the bands summed up under the gothic label.

Strictly looking at the album’s musical content, Frozen might even be one of the finest examples of Sentenced’s very own brand of melancholic “gothic” metal/rock. There isn’t a bad song among the twelve that made it onto this release; even the somewhat superfluous “Burn”, which includes some lyrics (only two verses, actually) but is really more of an instrumental, isn’t long and annoying enough to make you reach for the remote control. “Burn” is also the only track still including some growled vocals, as Frozen once and for all completes the transformation from gruff death metal vocals to clean melodic singing.

While it’s a bit of a pity that the band almost completely dumped the death metal aesthetics of days past, it’s also somewhat understandable considering what a top-notch singer Ville Laihiala used to be. His gothic crooning on Frozen is clear and powerful, but he also maintains a surly rawness pleasantly setting him apart from the all too streamlined HIMs of this world. (He’s also not too posh to burp into the mic with relish, as evidenced by the instrumental break on “For the Love I Bear”.) Though the music on Frozen is sometimes rather clean-shaven, it rarely gets too cuddly, limiting its mainstream appeal and scaring away the majority of angst-ridden teenage gothic kids.

Simply put, the songs on Frozen roughly fall into three categories: the straightforward, hard-rocking ones, the longer, more epic semi-ballads, and the instrumental intros and outros. The latter are actually far from filler-type material, with the beautiful “Kaamos” perfectly setting the mood for what’s to come and the heart-wrenching and, well, delightfully mournful “Mourn” rounding things off in fitting fashion. As for the heavier, more metallic and often faster tunes, they all follow the same basic formula and, with the exception of “Let Go (The Last Chapter)”, are all under four minutes long. Energetic little gems like “The Suicider” or “For the Love I Bear”, simple though they may be, feature just the right amount of youthful recklessness and hard-rocking grit to make you wanna pop a beer or two and revel in some sweet Northern misery. The longer, more epic tunes work equally well, alternating between introspective acoustic guitar chords, metalized riffs and choruses and, of course, plenty of mournful lead melodies. “Dead Leaves” executes this blueprint to perfection, but “The Rain Comes Falling Down” isn’t far behind.

The lyrics on Frozen actually cover a wide range of topics and are by no means as monothematic or overwhelmingly morose as you might think. They are not just about suicide, mind you, but also deal with life-affirming issues such as death in general, funerals, killing yourself, taking your own life, or dying by your own hand. Sorry, couldn’t resist – this is Sentenced after all, so everyone should know what they’re in for.

Now, why the relatively low score, you might ask? Well, Frozen is one of those rare instances of bad production values and/or a subpar mix severely tainting an album and robbing it of much of its impact. Seriously, what were those guys thinking in the studio and whose glorious idea was it to crank the drums and vocals way up while at the same time turning the guitars way down and having them sound tame and restrained to the point where they almost wouldn’t feel out of place on some dusty Cliff Richard record? I’m clearly exaggerating to make a point here, but there’s no denying the rhythm guitar in particular has very little distortion or crunch. Not only is it too low in the mix, it also sounds timid and weak and, in short, nowhere near what the rhythm guitar on a metal album should actually sound like. I mean, uh, whatever happened to the venerable motto “all men play on ten”?! Seems like it fell by the wayside at the time Sentenced entered the studio to record Frozen, for whatever reason.

At any rate, whether the horrible production was the producer’s or the record company’s idea or simply a case of a band trying something new and fancy: it absolutely backfires in the worst possible way, taking away much of the pleasure of listening to an otherwise very good Sentenced album. Too bad, as Frozen might in fact be one the best and most consistent works of the band’s career. You should still pick this up if you’re already familiar with Sentenced in the later stages of their career and albums like Down or Crimson are right up your alley. If you’re new to the band, I suggest you start by getting those two instead.

Choicest cuts: Dead Leaves, For the Love I Bear, The Suicider, Let Go (The Last Chapter)

Sparkling sorrow - 86%

gasmask_colostomy, September 17th, 2015

Every time I think of Sentenced, the same thought goes through my mind: 'What a waste.' The eventual descent into sloppy mediocrity, the subsequent break-up of the group, all culminating in the tragically early death of Miika Tenkula, who was a prodigiously skilled guitarist right to the end. However, there's another thought that mostly accompanies regret: that thought is of hope and comfort. Until the last couple of sloppy albums, Sentenced were always capable of sounding hopelessly mournful and concomitantly full of life and inspiration, to the point where even the manic depressive lyrics of songs like 'Noose' and 'Sun Won't Shine' from 1996's 'Down' were dazzling bursts of light showing a way forward out of a very gloomy tunnel.

'Frozen' is a pivotal album in the band's discography and is probably the best representation of their output with Ville Laihiala. The vocalist's strong, moody baritone took Sentenced away from the extreme territories of the early material and brought a popular catchiness to their sound that continued to expand, gradually obscuring their metal roots. 'Frozen' captures the Finns just at the point when that catchiness had arrived at the forefront of the sound, but the liveliness of the rock band had not been dulled, nor had they forgotten all of their tricks from the heavier end of the spectrum. The songs here are characterised by fast-paced choruses, sparkling melodies, upbeat drumming, and an occasional pensiveness that sweeps in like sudden winter rain on a clear frosty day. I'm critical of the filler that made 2000's 'Crimson' feel like hard work at times, while I'm also aware that 'Frozen' doesn't have the creative boldness of 1996's 'Down', sticking to a reasonably simple formula for 9 of these 12 songs (the others are largely instrumental), but never allowing that formula to make the songs seem predictable.

One thing that is apparent about this album is that the pace of the songs is very varied, with a contemplative nostalgia to the longer numbers like 'Dead Leaves' and 'The Rain Comes Falling Down': this contrasts with the deliberate speed of 'The Suicider', 'Burn', and 'Let Go (The Last Chapter)', which means that the mid-paced songs don't dominate the album and cause momentum to stagnate. The songs with more energy generally work a little better, since the emotion comes as much from the band as Laihiala, who attempts too much on 'The Rain Comes Falling Down' and can't quite carry such a weightily emotional song without much musical character. There are only two songs that think outside the box of fast song/slow song and both of them work very effectively, producing the most pleasant surprises of the album. These are 'Dead Leaves', which uses its simple melody as a device for both intensifying and relaxing its progress, while the chorus reminds me of Amorphis in the way it turns a natural image into a deeply felt personal emotion. The other unexpected song is 'For the Love I Bear', which doesn't so much ignore musical genres as show a middle finger to their face: the band manage to weave together one of Tenkula's inimitable melodies, a sparse gothic verse with admirably crafty bass, a blood-rush of a chorus, a melodic doom riff that bridges to a playful solo - a solo that even sounds like laughter at its beginning, perhaps since it was audaciously detonated by a loud belch.

There are other highlights too, and most of them are generated by Tenkula, either from his melodies and leads, or by the riffs that sometimes rear out of songs and command a reaction. 'The Suicider' and 'Grave Sweet Grave' are both strong mid-album, the first because of its adventurous pace and instinctive excitement, the second because it receives such a drenching of lead guitar brilliance that I'm tempted to pee my pants in an attempt to imitate the refreshing warmth and release of the tone. There are some keyboard moments in a few of the slow and mid-paced songs that possess some of the frozen wonder of Katatonia's 'Dance of December Souls', particularly on 'Drown Together', which sounds slightly empty until the first chorus, when it rolls in with a swathe of feeling and melody, leaving the rest of the song awestruck and delicate, though without compromising the fullness of sound.

The band give a strong performance, but I'm left feeling underwhelmed by the lyrics and a few of Laihiala's vocal efforts. Sentenced had often dealt with depressing subjects in the past, though 'Frozen' sees a morbid repetition of one theme running through at least half the songs here - that of suicide. I don't have a problem with the subject, and in fact it suits the band and became one of their defining characteristics, yet I do wish that they had found a suitable way to keep it from becoming one-dimensional and predictable, since suicide is certainly neither simple nor predictable. It doesn't give the album an obsessive character either, more of one that couldn't quite look outside itself and bring in other influences. Songs like 'Drown Together' and 'Dead Leaves', which take a more romantic stance on death and endings, are more interesting and memorable, while even 'Grave Sweet Grave' and 'Farewell' manage to make something of the subject due to their celebration of death and a stronger musical character.

'Frozen' doesn't have quite as much invention to recommend it as 'Amok' or 'Down', signalling the end of the band's most creative phase and the beginning of their tenure in the precincts of melodic metal. However, the simpler style is offset by energetic playing and lots of hooks, resulting in an album that remains dynamic and memorable long after the first few listens. It also maintains the band's signature bittersweet character, which can leave the listener feeling both uplifted and heartbroken as 'Mourn' comes to its end.

Comfort in Misery - 85%

TowardsMorthond, July 3rd, 2012

For the first time in their career, Sentenced produce an album that is not strikingly different in sound or approach from its predecessor, as Frozen follows the traditional melodic heavy metal style of Down, with the significant distinctions being stronger individuality of songs, more varied application of expressive tone and atmospheric layering, and a slightly more expansive structural format. Listening to Frozen, one gets the sense that Sentenced have identified a comfort zone in this style of straightforward, melodic songwriting. These rock-oriented songs are more assertive and dynamic than the songs on Down. The album sounds and feels more alive and inspired, even though the content is perhaps their most directly bleak and dejected yet.

"I regret every single day I've ever lived in my life
I gave all I had in me...so it's time to say goodbye"

The crystalline production emphasizes their precise and elegant guitar melodies over the bass-oriented, bottom-end power of Down that gave the drums a louder presence in the mix. As these songs are fueled by the band’s well-crafted and catchy guitar and vocal melodies, this sound provides a better representation of their style. Where the enduring impact of Down was ultimately limited by the uniform nature of its songs and the stagnant production, Frozen is a more dynamic work, featuring more variation in tempo, tone, and atmosphere, making it easier to differentiate between individual tracks. Ville Laihiala's singing benefits from a more confident delivery, as he takes more chances in these songs and has a firmer understanding of his strengths and weaknesses as a vocalist. He's sometimes not as convincing when using a deep, gothic-rock singing style, but when he applies his more standard approach, an effective balance of grit and melody, he shines in the context of these songs. Guitarists Mikka Tenkula and Sami Lopakka deliver a sensational performance on this disc, offering stellar riffs and harmonies that both burn and freeze, and Tenkula's lead work continues to serve as this band's most impressive element, especially in his soulful, bluesy playing in "Mourn" and "The Rain Comes Falling Down". Indeed, the blasting anthem "The Suicider", streamlined melodic love-meets-death pop-metal of "Drown Together", the vague re-visitation of AMOK-styled complexity in the instrumental "Burn" and the midnight rocking suicide celebration of "Let Go (The Last Chapter)" feature some of this underrated guitar tandem's most impressive work.

Lyrically, the band continues with the suicidal and morose themes of Down, only this time the words are submerged deeper into the abyss of misery and despair. "Dead Leaves" and "The Rain Comes Falling Down" both act as similarly grey‑spirited soundtracks to such dismal themes, but most of these songs are driven by almost elating, enraptured melodies that create a powerful union of conflicting elements that produce splendid, deceptively harmonic results. Some of these songs express thoughts on agony and death with morbid joy, as if rejoicing in anticipation of the end. No longer "The Northernmost Killers", Sentenced now become "serial self‑killers" urging the end of life with a bitter smile. The touching instrumental "Mourn", highlighted by some of Tenkula's most emotional playing, is perhaps the band's most cohesive representation of sadness in both theme and sound, concluding the album on a funereal note.

"A steady hand with this sharpened cold steel
will help me wipe away this pain that I feel."

Frozen stands as Sentenced's most consistent, engaging, and strongest effort in the Ville Laihiala-era. The band's approach has changed dramatically from their early days, but in the context of this conventional style, they peak with Frozen. Excellent songwriting, an enveloping despair-ridden atmosphere and inspired instrumental performances elevate this album to a high level that future albums would fail to match. This is a fine collection of songs skillfully managing to avoid the usual obstacles befalling most underground metal bands who transition to more conventional heavy metal songwriting.

The Frozen Blood - 40%

Tlacaxipehualiztli, June 28th, 2011

I remember that feeling: after great and break-through album “Down”, I wanted more Sentenced-like metal music. Maybe I did not expect a quantum jump, but I wanted more songs in the vein of the previous album. Of course I knew that magic of two first releases was gone forever and they probably found their style on “Down”.

The title “Frozen” and its content really froze my blood. Today, after many years, I still feel the same. Nothing is changed. Only two songs maintain top level from “Down” session. The rest of the tracks are average or just poor and even horrible in some moments. The album is opened by quite good intro which turns into “Farewell” – one of two mentioned songs above, fast, energetic with fine melodic chorus and nice Tenkula solo lead, just like old Sentenced. Good opening, but maybe the title of this song is ‘farewell’ to the good music? The next “Dead Leaves” confirms my reasonable assumptions. Good start is destroyed by bad chorus (no passion? no emotions?), perfect melody is gone, but we can forget about it because the forth song called “For The Love I Bear” is pure killer here, absolutely the best one, even I can put it in “Down” album and I won’t see the difference! It is like a much better version of “Farewell”. Unfortunately everything good with “Frozen” ends here with the last second of this track. In this moment better is to stop listening to it. Many songs are totally emotionless (“One With Misery”, “The Rain Comes Falling Down” with awful keyboards on the end), completely average and meaningless (“The Suicider” with ridiculous chorus, “Grave Sweet Grave” with promising first tunes and odius pseudomelodic chorus, “Drown Together”, “Let Go (The Last Chapter)”). But the worst moment on the album is “Burn” with female vocals. A true disaster… The last track is instrumental song called “Mourn”, which is in fact fine final tune in this mess-up.

After such rather bitter words, the mark couldn’t be good. Despite of all skills and talent of Sentenced members (especially Miika Tenkula and his guitar), “Frozen” is very average offering and these two mentioned songs cause the album does not fall into oblivion. Fortunately Lopakka and company returned to top form very quickly, they forgot about the past and recorded “Crimson” album which I treat as another pearl in Sentenced metal collection.

Inconvenient, incoherent. - 58%

Shadespawn, March 4th, 2009

Frozen is the followup album, after switching to new vocalist Ville Laihiala, to their 1996 masterpiece "Down". The late nineties were a very controversial turning point for many bands and also (again) for genres. In that period (2000 reaching the exponential factor) the musical brew everyone knew as heavy metal started to debase the heavy part while at the same time the pop(ular) factor rose drastically. Be it the high concentration of scene kids, whiny lyrics or the increasing nausea caused by the media promoting almost anything to press money out of dummies, the result is very clear. Heavy metal is a rapidly dying scene.

With time, this band eventually became as disoriented as an aging man, slowly losing his life essence and reason. Frozen is the exact example of such aspects weaved into musical patterns, threaded sometimes by weak lyrics and false emotion. The contrast created here isn't as fatal as in later works (The Cold White Light), but it simply doesn't work the way they intended to. Maybe with scene kids and goths and pseudo-melancholic rock fans, but there simply is not enough authenticity to prevail for more deeper listeners.

While the studio quality may be a tad better than that of "Down", the quality of the music does not manage to surpass that of its predecessor. The songs are overall very weak and have little to no real emotion in them. The lack of substance is somewhat compensated by the relative straightforward songwriting style of Miika, but this makes the release far from perfect. There can be parallels drawn between this and the precursor, but all in all this one fails, much like their later work. The point is the rapid increase in boredom you get from listening to this a couple of times. The simple difference between "Down" and "Frozen" is that Ville Laihiala took part in the songwriting process, as he discloses in an interview with a German magazine in 1998. On "Down" he was only three weeks in the band and just sang the lyrics, but accept him as a serious songwriter and you get pop songs with ridiculous lyrics. For those of you who care: "I regret every single day I ever lived in my life", "a steady hand with this sharpened cold steel will help me wipe away this pain that I feel" or "tonight's the night the last one of my life". This sound familiar? Correct. Suicide out of self-pity. Now where have we heard this before? Marilyn Manson? No. HIM? Not quite. My chemical romance? Yes, we're getting there. You realise the picture here?

The standard formula: low clean guitar intro, boom! the verse begins, skulks through to the chorus "I've seen my funeral - sad - grave sweet grave", boring solo, end gets very comical reaching the eighth song and continues to fart through the rest of the album like a sick dog. The only track that really stands out and reeks of rock'n'roll is "For the love I bear", which features an awesome burp followed by an amazing solo! That's what is heavily missing on this album.

Standout songs: For the love I bear and The suicider, but overall boring. Unless you're a gay emo, stay away.

Great Album, But Steer Clear of the Gold Version!! - 90%

Madman, March 2nd, 2003

How does a band like Sentenced follow a great album like "Down"? Simple, an even better album in "Frozen". Stylistically "Frozen" follows the same path as down but adds some more melody, especially in the chorus' which remind one of some good old heavy metal/hard rock.

Before actually getting into the bulk of the review I have one thing to say and that is that unless you are a HARDCORE Sentenced freak, don't buy the gold digi-pack version! Sure it contains four extra songs but they are terrible covers of "I Wanna Be Somebody", "Creep", "Digging the Grave", and "House of the Rising Sun" from well known Metal/Rock bands. Now these are all good songs in their original versions BUT unfortunately Ville Laihiala (Vocalist) doesn't have the voice for these songs plus I don't think these songs fit in with the whole Sentenced vibe...aside from "Digging the Grave" which fits the vibe but Ville is no Mike Patton. Plus the gold version of the album gives you a seriously fucked playing order, slipping two covers in after the first 3 songs and the build up with the songs that occurs in the normal version doesn't happen as the catchiest song is played first and the intro piece to build up the album comes in at track 6...WHAT THE FUCK!? When played in the proper order the album has more of an impact and some of the songs even sound better!

Getting back to the actual music on the album this is where I think Sentenced have hit their peak (and I think they're still at their peak with the releases of "Crimson" and "The Cold White Light"). This album brought the band a level higher.

Overall the album has quite a few killer tracks "The Suicider" being the catchiest. The chorus on this one hooks you in quickly and musically is probably the most upbeat on the album. "For the Love I Bear" also fits in with "The Suicider" as being a very catchy song. I love the verse on this one with the drums, the cool bass line, and the vocals fitting nicely overtop. "Grave Sweet Grave" is also another great song although the vocals in the verse sound very familiar...almost as if they were taken from a popular rock song. "Burn" is a cool upbeat instrumental with a heavy middle eastern influence. "Drown Together" and "Let Go (The Last Chapter)" are probably my two favorites on the album...I don't know what it is but I just love these two the best. "Let Go (The Last Chapter)" has a very cool guitar/drum part for the verses, very cool!

The Bottom Line: You must own this album, just not the gold version!