Simple solutions are underrated. Not everything needs to be thought through like Heidegger playing with words; for example, if you’re in a bad spot, the best course of action is to dust yourself off and start winning again. From Frank Sinatra to Body Count, the possibilities for musical accompaniment to future victories are endless, but the opportunity, whatever it may be, has to be seized and skillfully exploited. Many have complained about 2016’s selection of great music, and not without reason; it can seem a bit lacking. Germany’s Far Beyond, the one-man project of Eugen Dodenhoeft, decided to roll with the simplest solution of all to 2016’s musical woes: stop releasing music that isn’t great. With this, A Frozen Flame of Ice was born.

Far Beyond is ambiguously classified as “dark metal,” but to my ears A Frozen Flame of Ice is melodic black metal to its core. We’re not talking about subtly melodic stuff here either; no, think Insomnium, Edge of Sanity, Dissection to a small degree, Vintersorg’s later stuff, and even some Wintersun and you’re on the right track.

Comprising over fifty minutes of music, each of the six tracks here is truly special in its own right. Music has always held a special place in philosophy, from great thinkers like Plato to great works like the Holy Bible, and from incisive and clever oversimplifiers like Nietzsche to the overrated buffoonery of Theodor Adorno, and for good reason: it speaks to the heart and, for those with ears to hear and eyes to see, the mind as well. Far Beyond elates both head and heart on A Frozen Flame of Ice, and a track like “The Song Remains the Same” (no, it’s not a Led Zeppelin cover) is but one example. It’s structured excellently, and each of its fantastic parts combines to form something greater as a whole. Taken a la carte, each element of this song would be a highlight on anyone’s record but, taken properly together, the entire piece becomes a highlight of the year. The harmonies between Dodenhoeft’s multi-tracked clean vocals, the emotive but not sappy or limp-wristed guitar lines, the expert placement of growling and heavier riffs, and the shockingly good drum programming all sound meticulously composed yet wholly natural. This, like every other track here, is simply an exercise in songwriting excellence.

As I don’t have a ton of space, it seems necessary to point out that, like trying to describe something the listener “had to be there” for, Far Beyond’s success here comes with repeated gut-punches, elation, and an air of triumph that never goes away on subsequent listens. Sure, the sounds here often evoke sorrow (it is “dark metal” after all), but behind that sorrow lies hope, power, and perseverance. This sounds like an ode to life, raising a glass to its trials and tribulations along with its victories and successes. A Frozen Flame of Ice is a powerful, moving, and brilliantly written record, and certainly not one to be missed.

Tracks to Check Out: “Evernight – Part I,” “Evernight – Part II”

Share →
  • Iain Gleasure

    The art reminds me of Blind Guardian’s latest. Quite good if somewhat unoriginal.

    • PanzerFistDominatrix

      Unoriginal? It’s almost as cliche as the title – how about A Flaming Isicle of Fire? Playing with seemingly contradictory elements, oohhh, it’s so metal-philosophical, so deep…any chance it’s a one-man black metal act? Yay, score!!

      But in the right mood I might enjoy the music though.

      • Dymanic

        And he actually named a track “The Song Remains The Same”.. sheesh, seriously?

        • Nukenado

          Don’t worry, it’s not philisophical at all.
          There’s an entire track dedicated to Skyrim, and all the lyrics sound like they’re from a goddamn Stratovarius album.

  • R.Daneel Olivaw

    That’s why i love your page!!!!

  • This is what I was hoping/expecting the Hyperion album to sound like after reading the review. I like this a lot more, although the Hyperion album is still good, except for the clean vocals and spoken word parts which somehow put me off listening to the entire album.

    This one has a great atmosphere. Nice cover too.

  • GardensTale

    Mentioning Insomnium got me excited. Edge of Sanity got me elated. Add Wintersun and you got me frothing at the mouth in rabid anticipation! Gotta listen to this as soon as I can!

    • Dr. Wvrm

      And here I would have guessed it was gonna sound like Blind Guardian based on the name and art.

  • Gage

    Wait… people are complaining about this year in terms of metal? I’ve loved most of the albums this year, especially when compared to last year.

    • Here’s Johnny

      Nobody is complaining, he made that up. 2016 been a great year for metal.

      • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

        A great year for good/very good metal releases, yes.

    • flipper2gv

      Not a very good year for accessible metal. A LOT of really good albums this year were black metal and/or other genres that aren’t super accessible.

      • GardensTale

        Power metal hasn’t been great this year, but there’s been some great heavy and melodic death metal around.

      • Dr. Wvrm

        I don’t know whether melodeath falls on the accessible scale, but with releases from Dark Tranquillity, Amon Amarth, Insomnium, Omnium Gatherum, Be’lakor, In Mourning, Borknagar, and even (forgive me) In Flames, it was the biggest melodeath year in a long time. Throw in stuff like Katatonia, Avantasia, and Opeth and accessible metal was actually quite… accessible this year.

  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    Ahhhh godfuckingdammit… And just when I thought I had my fucking top ten nailed down.

    • The Unicorn

      IKR????

    • Monsterth Goatom

      Jeepers! That’s 25 cents in the swear jar for you, mister!

      • Dr. A.N. Grier

        I hate that goddamn sweat jar.

        • AlphaBetaFoxface

          It’s been filling up faster than usual, might want to get checked for thyroid problems.

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            Sometimes it helps having others tell me I have a problem. Sometimes…

        • [not a Dr]

          You are not supposed to put sweat in there. At least now we know what happened.

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            Stupid autocorrect. I’m leaving it. And filling the jar up with more fluids.

    • ^^^^

      srsly guyz, stop doing this to me. :(

  • SegaGenitals

    EVERYTHING needs to be thought through like Heidegger playing with words

  • ricLP81

    Oh my god, stop screwing with my wallet. These last few days have been terrible for it here. Between this, Cult of Luna, Latitudes, Oak Pantheon, Saor, and Schammasch I don’t have enough hours in the day to enjoy all of it…

    • GoatForest

      Schammasch!

  • Dagoth_RAC

    Fus Ro Dah!

  • Kryopsis

    You weren’t kidding about the melodic part. Hit me up next time you’re going east for some poutine, DiM!

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Are we talking Quebec east? Been meaning to drive out there in 2017 again!

      • Kryopsis

        Great! Hit me up when you reach Montreal. :)

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          Definitely! First round’s on me!

  • madhare

    Not bad. But there is a definite cheese factor at play here too. Hmm. Few more test plays are in order.

    • [not a Dr]

      Mmmmm… blackened cheese…

  • sir_c

    The embedded sounds pretty damn good. Thanks for the heads up!

  • “shockingly good drum programming”.
    THEY ARE PROGRAMMED???
    Shhhiiiiiiieeeeeeet.

  • Nukenado

    Finally found this review… Melodic black metal is one of my favorite genres, accessable, but still evocative. This one hits all those spots for me.

    Also, Nietzche is the Dream Theatre of philosophy to me.

  • Nukenado

    There’s a song dedicated to Skyrim.

    So automatically -.5 points, Oblivion was better.