Monday, March 20, 2023

Sentenced - Frozen (1998)

Frozen marks the first time that Sentenced had really and truly found a lane that they decided to stay with. Whereas Shadows from the Past to North From Here, to Amok and then Down shows a lot of evolution in stylistic choice, this fifth full-length is more or less a doppelganger of its direct predecessor. That's not to write it off, because the songwriting here still shows a lot of class, and it's got nearly as many great hooks as they did the last time out. I also really like how they themed and colored each of their albums in this Ville phase to look distinct...the photo art is quite minimalist, but you can always remember 'this is the silver album, that one was the gold, the blue, the crimson', if only all of them were as good as this very simple but effective choice...alas, with Frozen we are still above the median of quality.

I think this album's actually a little more coherent than its predecessor, and the production a bit better since they were now fully versed on how they wanted to structure these tracks around the new vocals. Tracks like "Farewell" and "The Suicider" are instant additions to my Sentenced playlist, though they do somewhat sound alike and very similar to tracks off Down, but even these little variations are enough to put me in that same, downtrodden mood that the band was trying to relate. There is little to no progression or experimentation anywhere, he might put a few effects on the vocals for a couple lines, and there are some moody pieces like "The Rain Comes Falling Down" or the tasty "Grave Sweet Grave" that are toying around with some newer riff types to various levels of success, and "Burn" is definitely something a little heavier and more exotic, with some throwback growls in their for fun, but it's a shorter piece that could have been extended into one of the better songs had they cared more about it, rather than being so largely an instrumental. 

Ultimately, if this had been packed in as a double album with Down, I would not really be able to tell the difference beyond a few elements in the cleaner production. The drums and guitars are playing at a high level, it might be rocking out with a very basic structure, but so many little details with the fills, beats and rhythms really help flesh this one out. There are about 5-6 songs here that would have made for an ace EP, the rest aren't quite so excellent, and I think if you mashed together the best of this and the album before it, you would have had the true highlights of the post-Amok Sentenced tenure. That doesn't say much for the three albums to come, but we'll get to them...

Verdict: Win [7.75/10]

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