The name EVERFROST may be a new one to many of you, which is a true shame. Formed by Benjamin Connelly in 2014, this symphonic power metal band has already stepped above and beyond the ordinary call of music, and combined their album with a story drawn in the Japanese manga style. Their debut album, “Blue Eyed Emotion,” was released on December 19th, 2015, and when we were told that there wasn’t a review of the album in English, we knew that needed to change.
The album opens with one of the best melodies that Finnish power metal has heard in a decade: “The Lonesome Prince.” It has everything you need to hook you into a concept album. It has alluring and poetic lyrics, near-operatic vocals and strong backing choirs, catchy riffs and melodies, and dynamic story progression. It’s easy to fall in love with this song immediately as it’s so well-written and never gets boring.
We then move on to “Arctic Scream,” which has a nice tempo, some decent growls, but lacks perhaps a melodic hook or a memorable chorus. Nevertheless, it’s a well-written and well-put together piece, and might appeal more to the fans of more traditional power metal; the vocal wail at the end is really nice. “Back to the Light” follows, which opens with a… let’s call it unfortunate vocal reading at the beginning. The song itself is a nice change of pace for the album, built on strong melodies and crisp, powerful keyboards, but the female vocals by Swan Davies are limp and monotonous, falling flat. Her voice itself isn’t bad, but it lacks the required emotion for the song; it sounds robotic. The speed could be a problem as well, feeling like it wants to unleash but isn’t allowing itself. Overall, there is the foundation of a very strong song here, it just needs a few tweaks.
“The Glades and the Cradle” is the one song on the album that doesn’t really relate to the EVERFROST concept, and is actually about the Scottish folk tale, Tam Lim. It has a very dramatic, renaissance-y feel to it, but somehow Hew Wagner suffers from the same issue Davies had (though not to the same degree) – despite his strong vocal style and technique, he seems like he might not have an emotional connection to the music, so the notes come out a bit monotone.
“Silver Nights, Golden Dreams” is at its best during the chorus, as Wagner‘s voice blends in with the music more firmly, though during the verses his voice remains a bit disjointed or stiff. The solo has some qualities reminiscent of old BLIND GUARDIAN. “Hemlock” has a very cool, heavy intro, reminding you that these guys are still metal. Don’t forget the icy keyboards though – let’s not forget who we’re dealing with. This is perhaps the closest to pure heavy metal the album hits, with a big sound. This is also one of Wagner‘s best performances on the album.
We’ve heard EVERFROST has listed TURMION KÄTILÖT as an influence on a few occasions, and it’s perhaps most evident in “Clockwork Wilderness,” which has a very TK party vibe in the intro, as well as when the growls start. The disco metal tempo is great, though Davies‘ vocals again are one of the weak spots, sounding too robotic to portray the necessary emotion, which would be anger based on the story. Let’s not forget Markus Laito‘s great solo though, or the great rhythms from… Benji Connelly again, because Jope Salminen and Allan C. Hasanen hadn’t yet joined the band. “Clockwork Wilderness” is another one of the heavier tracks, with a really beautiful ambient symphonic keyboard outro.
A semi-heavy synth intro opens “Caress the Emptiness,” and we are again faced with Davies‘ limp, hollow vocals resisting Laito‘s fantastic fretwork. The time changes and twists and turns take this song into clear prog territory, and the song really shows off Connelly‘s compositional skill. It’s definitely not a party song and benefits best from a close listening. The instrumental outro goes on perhaps a tad too long, but it’s still a shockingly fresh and unique sound.
The album then closes with the speedy power metal bombshell, “Three Tier Terror.” It has some really sharp, wintry keyboards and Wagner seems to be feeling it, letting his voice flow alongside the music. The roaming guitars sound really cool, while each strike of the keys is a little adrenaline shot. They pack as much epicness into the finale as possible, leaving on an similar note to how the album began.
EVERFROST‘s debut album is what feels like a mountaintop before an avalanche. Everything is in place, these guys just need to find the last missing pieces before a storm of frosty fury is unleashed upon the metal world. The album is a bit unpolished, sounding at times like a draft or a demo with placeholder vocals and a tad over-convoluted story/concept, but it is overall a really impressive first album with an original soundscape that the music was all built around. There are surprise hooks and twists and the music never gets bland, even if some of the songs could use a little more speed. Though we don’t get to hear any more of Wagner, as he left due to the Australia-Finland commute, we already know that there is a new vocalist (Mikael Salo) for their next release, so our expectations are high for what comes next!
Written by Bear Wiseman
- The Lonesome Prince
- Arctic Scream
- Back to the Light
- The Glades and the Cradle
- Silver Nights, Golden Dreams
- Clockwork Wilderness
- Caress the Emptiness
- Three Tier Terror
Benji Connelly – keyboards, bass, drums, guitars
Markus Laito – guitar solos
Hew Wagner – vocals