I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: black metal has had an amazing past few years, at least in terms of artists redefining what the genre can do. We’ve had Behemoth come out with what is arguably their best studio album to date, The Satanist; the so-called “blackgaze” bands like Deafheaven and Liturgy pushing the limits on what black metal is; and even more traditional BM bands like Hegemon and Barshasketh reinterpreting the tried-and-true black metal formula.
Now, add Frozen Ocean to your list as another black metal band that is kicking some serious musical ass. The project of Russian musician Vaarwel (real name: Mikhail Saveliev), Frozen Ocean has been incredibly prolific releasing eleven studio albums and six EPs since beginning in 2005. Musically, this is a project that technically belongs in the subgenre of atmospheric black metal, but I feel that such a label does Frozen Ocean an injustice, as it’s much much more than just a somber-sounding, reverb-drenched black metal band. Vaarwel brings in some pretty interesting and well-used instrumentation into his work, including electronic elements and the occasional piano. The latest FO EP, The Prowess of Dormition, is a small blizzard of black metal, full of tremolo-picked guitars and epic growls, with the occasional synth crying out for help amidst the storm. It’s simultaneously beautiful and dread-inducing, and possibly one of the best EPs I’ve heard this year. Definitely give it a try if you like black metal band that like to do things a little differently.