Frost Like Ashes - Pure As the Blood Covered Snow (SoTD Records) 2003
1. "Notions of Insanity"
I cannot honestly say that I am a very big fan of black metal. Typically I just find it to be boring, without musical hooks or interest. Usually the bands are either concerned with speed alone and if there is any melody, it's usually brought in by way of keyboards rather than with guitar riffs or vocal melodies. Also, I tend to not care for the lyrical themes of many bands. Frost Like Ashes, however, is not your typical black metal band. First of all the lyrics are not typical of the genre in that they are not spewing forth venom and hatred towards Christianity. Unfortunately however, it's almost impossible to understand what vocalist Azahel is saying in his Cookie Monster on helium style and the lyrics were not included in the insert. Having heard Azahel stellar performances on those Possession CDs, when he was known as Nyk, I was a bit disappointed that he didn't use any of those high falsetto wails that he does so well. What I do like about Frost Like Ashes is that speed is not the only focus of their songs, nor do they rely on the keyboards to carry the melody like many black metal bands that I have heard. As a matter of fact, Frost Like Ashes successfully mixes in a variety of style including some death, doom and thrash metal influences as well. This is no more apparent than in the Black Sabbath cover "After Forever". Overall, a successful debut EP from Frost Like Ashes that shows promise for the future.
Frost Like Ashes - Tophet (PsychoAcoustix) 2005
1. "A Terrible Visitation"
OK, I'll be the first to admit that black metal isn't my forté. I love metal, but for some reason I've not familiarized myself with much in the black metal scene. When this disc was sent to me for review, I actually held onto it for a couple months, giving it an occasional listen and each time agonized over what to say about it. I have no base of comparison, so it's hard to say how this compares to other black metal bands. The fact of the matter is, I'm not so sure this is even pure black metal. "Tophet" seems to actually be an odd blending of styles. The basis is extreme black metal with those melodic keyboards, blast beats, shrieking vocals and haunting passages, but I hear elements of thrash metal and death metal mixed in as well. Basically, "Tophet" is controlled chaos. Removing the vocals at times, I'd swear I hear a King Diamond/Mercyful Fate influence. Part of that comparison comes from the haunting keyboards while at other times it's the odd interludes between songs. Even some of the guitar work has a blackened classic metal vibe such as in "A Cruel Verse". Frost Like Ashes are not a polished band for sure. They have a raw, underground charm coupled with a harnessed energy. One thing that may throw some black metal fans for a loop is that instead of singing the praises of Satan, Frost Like Ashes take great pleasure in singing about the horned one's demise. I'm told that black metal is more than just a style of music, but it's about an attitude as well. If that be the case, then Frost Like Ashes are certainly to be included. Their songs may not be the typical church hating tripe, but the cold, shrill feel of the music, coupled with the searing lyrics should please any skeptic.