I’m not going to lie, I’ve been in love with Frozen Crown’s music only for a while so it’s not that easy for me to review their newest album “Winterbane”. But now that this Italian power metal outfit released their third studio album after serious lineup changes, let’s see how they did. I guess you will find their music wonderful if you get used to it if you’re not all that familiar with this subgenre. These Italians have their own style, which is actually a blend of power metal and the Swedish type of melodeath. On top of that, they have Giada “Jade” Etro with her HUGE (yes, with capital letters) voice. Honestly, it wasn’t that easy for a death metal fan to digest this combination. But it’s possible.
“Embrace the Night” is the very first song on this record, kicking things off with insane aggression, roughness and craziness. It’s impossible not to enjoy this song if you hear that solo at 0:22 and its neo classical metal touch.
Moving on to “Towards The Sun”, like Ozzy said… ALL ABOARD! This song is a wicked journey by Frozen Crown’s power metal (crazy) train. But fasten your seatbelts because this is a high speed railway line. Only if Niso had left his drum kit behind for a few seconds and Giada went one octave down at the beginning, this track would literally explode at 0:29.
The journey continues with “Far Beyond” and the (crazy) train is even faster… “Far Beyond” was the first single off “Winterbane”, but you don’t have to ask why. This one speaks for itself. The tempo is insane as usual, but this should be obvious because we’re talking about a pure, I mean P-U-R-E power metal song. Just pay attention to Giada’s vocals, and you’ll know what I’m talking about. This one was the debut for Frozen Crown’s new lead guitarist Fabiola “Sheena” Bellomo (and Francesco Zof on bass and Niso Tomasini on drums, of course). Apart from being the goddess of shredding, she shows something unexpected: how to drive the audience crazy with an open string. It’s simply hilarious. You gotta fall in love with this young lady every time she releases that goddamn fretboard. All in all, “Far Beyond” is actually the song where everything is balanced perfectly vocally and musically. You really can’t ignore this one.
“The Lone Stranger” is reminiscent of some Celtic vibes, but this kind of music perfectly suits Frozen Crown’s lyrical themes. Maybe they should explore this territory next?
With “Crown Eternal”, I expected to hear Mikael Stanne’s clean vocals. For real. This could be a really nice duet with him because this song is so Frozen Crown but it’s also so Dark Tranquillity… Dear Federico, please contact Dark Tranquility NOW and re-record this one with Stanne. I want to hear that version so badly. Honestly, this is one of my favorite songs from “Winterbane”. Really heavy and really melodic. Pure “Swedish” melodeath with Giada’s power metal vocals… And at the end of the song, I don’t even miss Mikael Stanne’s voice that much anymore.
With “Angels in Disguise”, we actually get to hear a duet; a really nice piece with Volturian’s lead singer Federica Lanna. Her voice was a pleasant surprise at first although I knew Federica would appear on “Winterbane”. Honestly, this one is much better than these two ladies’ previous duet “In A Heartbeat”. Perhaps it’s because this song is more balanced vocally.
As we get closer to the end of the album, we might hear some familiar tunes: “Night Crawler”, a cover of Judas Priest’s heavy metal insanity from 1990. Judas Priest’s “Painkiller” is one of the albums that made me fall in love with metal. And this album is a heavy metal classic. It is a nice try. It really is. But I’d rather hear this one from Judas Priest, in the original slower tempo and Mr. Halford on vocals.
“Tales Of The Forest” is an instrumental track which sounds similar to “Enthroned” from the band’s previous album “Crowned In Frost”. This track is actually the intro to the final piece “Blood on the Snow”. If you’re familiar with Frozen Crown’s music you will know this is exactly the same way they ended “Crowned In Frost”.
“Blood on the Snow” is another dose of melodeath riffs and blast beats. This song makes me a bit confused. Apart from Jade’s vocals nothing sounds like power metal but melodic death metal. But I don’t mind. This one also makes me think of Frozen Crown’s future since it’s last song on “Winterbane”. Will they completely leave behind power metal on their next album?
To sum it up, “Winterbane” is not great, just good. It’s because this album has some issues:
Where are those really fast and really wild tracks like “ Battles In The Night” and “Unspoken”? Those are the greatest ones of this band. Where did they leave them? And what about that nice piano from “Winterfall” and “Lost In Time”? Where can I find it? These are small things but Frozen Crown’s trademark sound needs them. They really shouldn’t leave these things behind.
Vocally, “Winterbane” is the first Frozen Crown album that doesn’t really make me say Giada is a bit too much. Because, let’s be honest, it’s easy to forget about the rest of the band when she sings. Luckily, “Winterbane” is balanced. It’s not just an overdose of Giada’s voice but an overdose of every single member of this band, and that’s how it should be.
Finally “Winterbane” is a good (but still not great) addition to anyone’s music collection even if this release has some weaker spots, in my opinion. And honestly, I would also recommend it to those who prefer the extreme subgenres of metal because, Frozen Crown and their music are still much heavier than an average power metal band. Let’s see how they do next time.