Review by Greg on November 30, 2023.
Maybe in an attempt to make up for their premature dissolution, cult Canadian thrashers Aggression have been insanely prolific in the new millennium. 4 LPs in the last 7 years, with this new Frozen Aggressors coming barely a year after its predecessor From Hell With Hate. I can't say I'm exactly intrigued by such a short wait, and the album title lifted from an old song that was already rerecorded on the last effort does nothing to avoid conveying the impression of a quick rehash of already trodden grounds, but my experience with the band's recent output was always more or less worthwhile, with the shining outlier of Fragmented Spirit Devils (specifically its first half) towering above the rest. So, how does this new one fare?
To be fair, I still kinda regret the departure of previous vocalist Brian Langley, since he seems to have taken most of the death metal influence away with him, alas. And yes, I'm aware there's a song called 'Satanic Cult Gangbang', in case you're wondering, and that happens to have a growled refrain, but it's mostly an anomaly. Aggression has never focused too much on a single genre in all their recent albums, and Frozen Aggressors is no exception. Main man Denis Barthe's voice is rough, yet more suited to a classic thrash template, and that seems to be the bulk of the LP nonetheless. Already the instrumental opener, pretty much a second coming of Rigor Mortis' 'Welcome To Your Funeral', teleports us back to our most beloved decade, not least thanks to its awesome riff not really needing vocals, or to the vertiginous, Harden Harrison-like drumming courtesy of Ryan Idris.
As hinted before, the remaining tracks try a bit of everything. After all, they say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but no one tells you that you can't because, in reality, these four gentlemen have already learned them all. Thus, the massively speed-infused 'Circus Of Deception' is soon followed by a punky one in 'Song #666' (and I mean that literally, I read there's some Pennywise(!) influence at play), which gives way to the Kill 'em All-like 'Crib Of Thorns', and so forth throughout the tracklist, with the due, welcome remark that Frozen Aggressors ends up being a rare case of an Aggression album that actually gets more interesting as tracks go by – you can refer to 'Queen Of The Damned' that builds upon the harshest character of 'Satanic Cult Gangbang' and mixes it with almost traditional metal-esque refrain and leadwork – and no big missteps are present except for the initially promising, but ultimately throwaway 'Holidays In Sodom'.
Closer 'Hyperspectral Winter Incursions', then, is an oddity within the band's whole discography. I think Sasquatch & co. might have gone too far with the half-clean backing vocals (that don't even sound very serious, either) or with the double acoustic/electric spoken intro that lasts for nearly four minutes... but even then, the smooth, melodic solo is as remarkable as it was unexpected. The song seems to be reworked from an old original which was also the last song written with original drummer Gaëtan Bourassa (R.I.P.). I wonder which parts were already composed back then...
To my partial surprise, Frozen Aggressors is the most consistent Aggression LP to date, much in line with (and more focused than) From Hell With Hate, and yet another successful addition to the Canucks' repertoire. An all-around perfectly serviceable meal, whereas Fragmented Spirit Devils was more like your favourite dish, only with half of it served with your least favourite spice. A different face of the band, amongst many already showcased. See you next year, I guess?
Rating: 7.7 out of 10448