Frost Giant’s third full-length release, The Harlot Star, is a spectacular exploration into realms of both myth and metal. Whether you are a fan of epic, soaring power metal, black metal, folk music or even hardcore punk, this album is sure to offer you a wide variety of musical goods that are simply too good to refuse.
The album opens with its title track, an ethereal and atmospheric yet concise introduction piece featuring soulful clean guitar harmonics, background sound effects, and lush acoustic guitars. This track sets an excellent precedent for the musical blizzard to come in the following tracks.
The second track, ‘Forgive Me Not’ opens with furious blast beats, operatic vocal harmonies, and fast-paced guitar riffage. The pre-chorus of this track contains one of my personal favourite vocal melodies and harmonies on the entire release, with an uplifting choral chant reminiscent of power metal bands such as Blind Guardian or Sabaton. This track also demonstrates a broad range of extreme metal vocals and face-melting guitar solos which help drive the track towards an elevated level of passion and power.
The third track, ‘Apostasis’ is a romantic and solemn neo-classical acoustic guitar piece which despite its beauty, serves no major purpose other than to function as an entertaining transition between track two and four of the album.
The fourth track, ‘Curse of Doubt’ opens with a blistering fury of blast beats and blackened-thrash guitar riffs which may remind some listeners of early Gorgoroth or Immortal. Despite the short run time of this track, it is a more than thorough exercise in the cold and grim atmospheres that Frost Giant are capable of crafting within their music.
The fifth track, ‘An Exile in Storm’ is a moving and emotional acapella hymn that features lyrics concerning loss, uncertainty and tragedy. This piece although very short is effective in propelling the listener to sympathise with the lead protagonist, wandering in a bewildered haze through a harsh and unforgiving storm.
The sixth track, ‘Prisoner of the Past’ is revealed to the listener with a quirky and dance-friendly folk ditty before thrusting into the melodic, energetic wrath of blast beats, thrashing riffs and operatic vocals heard on previous tracks. This is most certainly one of personal favourite tracks from the album, featuring goofy vocal chants, accordions, pianos, memorable vocal melodies and ripping guitar leads.
The seventh track, ‘Ashes Amongst the Earth’ contains many of the same musical and instrumental aspects of the third track, ‘Apostasis’. In a similar fashion, despite its melancholic and sombre tones, the track ultimately serves as a transition between track six and eight with not much to add regarding its description.
The eighth track, ‘The Forgotten Graves’ is an epic and progressive masterpiece full of dynamic instrumental changes, rip-roaring solos, transcendental vocals and immersive lyrics harkening to times of old. Definitely one of the most impressive feats on this album, this track will maintain its audiences interest despite its runtime of over 11 minutes in length. This track along with the following pieces is what sets this album and band apart from the pack of contemporary folk metal battalions.
The ninth track, ‘Of Clarity and Regret’ is a melodic and inspiring ballad which explores the bands punk influence, featuring plenty of downbeat drum rhythms, palm muted riffs, hardcore build-ups and creative uses of breakdowns. The track closes with an epic tempo change, which contains long and sustained operatic vocal lines akin to some of Devin Townsend’s most theatrical pieces of work. This track also closes with a memorable and heartfelt acoustic guitar passage before fading into obscurity.
The second last track, ‘Monuments to Nothing’ opens with soaring and uplifting guitar harmony leads reminiscent of bands such as Sylosis or Insomnium before spiralling into a flurry of blast beats, tremolo picking and jovial vocal chants. Towards its closing moments, this track contains some of my favourite guitar solo moments on the entire record. Full of bluesy phrasing, whammy bar abuse, tapping and legato lines, these solos are sure to leave the jaws of any fans of dazzling guitar gymnastics dropped to the floor.
The albums closing track, ‘Perpetuum et Aeternum’ is a dramatic and reflective orchestral-based refrain of the main chorus melody featured on ‘Monuments to Nothing’. This track works beautifully to take the ferocity of the previous track down a notch, before gradually leaving the album to lay in a peaceful and well-deserved rest.
Overall, Frost Giant’s third full-length release, The Harlot Star is an excellent album that most certainly belongs in the collection of any metal fan regardless of whether their tastes lie with the extremity of black metal, the theatrics of power metal, the atmosphere of progressive metal or the musicality of classic metal bands from the roots of the genre.
Stand-out tracks: Prisoner of The Past, The Forgotten Graves, Monuments to Nothing
The Harlot Star will be out 19 January.