Review by Nick on June 17, 2008.
Really? Frozen Circus? An interesting album name, to say the least. And an interesting album, as well. Eternal Deformity is a Polish metal band, straddling the line between doom and symphonic black metal. And Frozen Circus is a decent representation, good or bad, of the inability to categorize this band.
The opening track, or intro, Retrospection, is intended to use the universal creep factor of circuses to create an ominous atmosphere. Instead, it comes across as contrived, cliché and archaic. Nevertheless, before images of miniature clowns cross your mind, The Force of Your Heart obliterates the stale mood. The Force is symphonic black metal in the vein of The Kovenant, complete with the obligatory synthesizers and synthetic vocals. Eternal Deformity does inject their own unique style into the mix, but unfortunately there is not enough deviation in The Force of Your Heart to move it from stale to interesting.
Unholy Divine is a melodic goth/black/death metal song with some intriguing key melodies, while the guitars are sharp, precise and pummeling. Announcer’s (another ridiculous circus reference) vocals are mostly clean on this track, backed by some female vocals. Somewhere in the midst, however, the screaming guitar solos lose purpose and become monotonous. It’s a decent track with potential, but still misses the mark.
Little 15 is one of the most unique symphonic metal songs that I have heard in some time. The lush keys blur the boundaries between reality and fantasy, and it’s easy to lose all cognition about genre. In fact, Little 15 is best when you extract it from the whole of the album. While it has its purpose and place on Frozen Circus, it’s an interesting enough track to stand on its own. The vocals are melancholy, while the somber melody is backed by thrashing riffs and bludgeoning percussion.
Crime perhaps suffers from poor placement, but nonetheless it fails to impress. It’s a bit tedious, possibly because of the irritating synth interludes. It becomes more interesting when it plunges to straight black metal, but then retreats back to the forced necessity of clean vocals and breakdowns (this is one song that I wish remained a straight black metal song).
The sixth track, So Silent, again reminds me of The Kovenant, with some Moonspell thrown in. There is potential buried within, but again I am overcome with incredulous familiarity. We have all heard this sound too many times, and there is nothing extraordinary enough for it to stand out. Dan Swano-ish vocals adequately penetrate, but once again interrupting a momentum that would have lifted this song from mere mediocrity. The bright spot of this track is the instrumental interlude towards the middle.
Track #7, Thor’s Message, is the morsel of inspiration that this album has been desperately needing. The song draws upon a myriad of influences, but most importantly, it is not tunnel-visioned. Unlike the majority of the previous tracks, Eternal Deformity intertwines their own proprietary sound with their influences in Thor’s Message, rather than copying them. As a result, the song is fresh, inspired and entertaining.
Endless Night and Lovelorn are Frozen Circus’ last two tracks. Endless Night complements Thor’s Message nicely and adds an exclamation point to a one-two punch of frigid metal. The song is brutal and beautiful, sliding back and forth between extremes. The guitar melodies are nicely infused and the vocals are perfectly layered. Likewise, Lovelorn is a competent closing number. Always thankful for small favors, I was relieved to hear the absence of the circus-themed sounds that began this album. Instead, Lovelorn is much more mature and moving. The “old world” strings and flutes add a timeless element to the song. It’s as if Eternal Deformity matured throughout the recording of this album, becoming conscious of the infantile thematics of the original concept. I am extremely pleased with the way Frozen Circus has concluded and only wish that the first half of the album could have benefited from the same trajectory.
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 7.8 out of 10