Frozen Ocean Prowess of Dormition Cover 2016“New year. New me.” Those four words were uttered by practically everyone on my social media feed at approximately 12:01 am on January 1st of this year. All great and everything, but why must you be entirely new? I, for example, am quite happy being a cantankerous dude whose alter ego is one-half adorable internet meme, and one-half winner of last month’s Record o’ the Month honors. Another thing that won’t ever change is my luck when it comes to reviewing one-person black metal bands. You know my feelings about this very subject, but once again, here we are. With 2 splits, 11 full-lengths, and 5 EPs, Russia’s Frozen Ocean is quite the prolific entity for one dude named Vaarwel. And now, I have his sixth EP, The Prowess of Dormition. New year, new one-person black metal to digest.

And upon cursory listens to their most recent output, that phrase up above could also apply to Mr. Vaarwel as well, seeing as how the band started off as a melodic black metal outfit, but on 2014’s Weighing Form and 2015’s Prills of Remembrance, he dove into ambient drone and triphop, respectively. The Prowess of Dormition sees him return to his icy-cold roots, and with major success. Opener “No Blizzard” starts off slowly with a shimmery melody atop well-programmed drums before lunging face-first into the snowstorm, reminding me of a younger Borknagar, but more upbeat. Vaarwel’s growling recalls Mikael Åkerfeldt’s earlier works, and it fits with the music perfectly. About halfway in, there’s a neat electronic melody to keep you on your toes, and the tasteful keyboard lines provide a beautiful, icy sheen to a great song. This is an incredibly engaging way to introduce an EP.

The other three tracks are also of great quality, though they may not shine as bright as the opener. Instrumental “Det Siste Snøfallet” feels a bit longer than its 5-minute length would suggest due to some repetition of riffs, but is still quite enjoyable. The closing title track displays some strong tremolo riffs with icy guitar melodies draped over some impressive drum programming and hypnotic electronics. “Once Aglow,” the longest song at just over seven minutes, keeps things mostly engaging despite the song’s length. The problem that The Prowess of Dormition suffers from is that Vaarwel picked the strongest song to lead off the EP. Mind you, the rest of the songs vary from good-to-great, but “No Blizzard” is easily the keystone of the entire EP, and it feels like the remaining tracks are playing catch up.

Frozen Ocean Band 2016
Hats off to the production, as there are some great dynamics here. The guitars have enough punch to be effectively icy and cold, the bass pops in and out when necessary, and the drums, albeit programmed, sound like Vaarwel’s sitting behind an actual drum kit, laying out some convincing fills and rhythm patterns. That’s not easy to pull off by any stretch. The only things left wanting by me is a shuffling of the track order, as again, “No Blizzard” is such a strong song, the rest of the album pales in comparison. Also, maybe a little variety in Vaarwel’s guitar melodies, such as some vibrato, perhaps.

This is an enjoyable EP and at a scant almost-25 minutes, it does the job of leaving the listener wanting more. If Vaarwel can hone his blackened craft a bit more, he could be on to great things in the near future. I’m digging this greatly. Good work!


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Apocalyptic Witchcraft Recordings
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: February 26th, 2016

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  • Diego Molero

    I have a hard time listening to black metal when it’s mixed like this, the drums and vocals sound distant and buried, like in almost every BM records. I want to like this but I just can’t.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Grymm, you praised the drum programming THREE times… that’s not the right thing to do in a Metal website!! ;)

    • sir_c

      *digs up Inner Thought record*
      Huh? What?

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Never heard about it before…

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    That picture is screaming for an unicorn.

    • Blueberry Balls

      Ask and receive.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Hahahaha! You deserve a prize! Who does one have to bribe to get this comment featured?

        • Me.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            I guess we are to negotiate the bribe in camels?

      • Yes!

        • Blueberry Balls

          Hahaha, thanks man. Shitty day today and this was a much needed perk.

      • Challenge accepted.

        • Blueberry Balls


        • METAL OTTER

          Unicorn bursting majestically out of a frozen ocean… it’s the live action remake of The Last Unicorn!

        • Wilhelm

          I prefer this to the original

          • RuySan

            indeed. And not even in an ironic way.

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          I love this blog!

        • Zadion

          Perfect opportunity for Unijørnition… WASTED.

          • Next time I’d be more careful:) As a newbie, I’m not familiar with this ‘Jorn thing’. I’ve seen some jokes here and there while reading reviews, but… Where did all of it come from?

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            Who knows but once the Jornie was out of the bottle it became unstoppable…

          • André Snyde Lopes

            Steel Druhm has an infatuation with Jorn Lande.

          • It’s more of a healthy respect for his vast, incalculable musical talent.

          • Zadion

            tl;dr version is that AMG-sama himself hates Jorn, Steely D loves Jorn, and they make passive aggressive comments at each other stemming from their wildly different tastes in a select few fields. Pretty common fair between those two, really.

          • AMG is a hater who refuses to appreciate the sublime beauty of the man’s rocking voice.

          • If we’re talking about a man responsible for vocals in ARK, I’m totally on your side.

        • This is quite beautiful!

        • sir_c

          Question is: does it make you horny?

          • [not a Dr]

            You may not like the answer…

        • madhare

          This could be a real cover for some cheesy band like Stratovarius. And instead of being silly it would actually be a huge improvement to their average bad-3D-graphics covers.

    • The Stormin Mormon

      New year, new unicorn!

  • Antorus

    As a russian metalhead, it’s always great to find non nationalistic black metal bands…

    • sir_c

      Almost sounds like an oxymoron. Almost.

  • Goldicot

    Worst goddamn album cover 2016.


    Pour 3 parts vodka over icy riffs and blast beats in an old-fashioned glass, followed by 2 parts coffee liqueur. 3.5/5.0

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    You better watch it or AMG might put you in charge of Verdan reviewing

  • Boter

    Interesting. ‘Vaarwel’ means ‘goodbye’ in Dutch. Literally: ‘Sail well’. It has a sad undertone missing in goodbye. Vaarwel is something said when it is altogether very uncertain wether you’ll ever meet someone again.

    These attempts to convey the exact meaning of a word in another language aside, I wonder why this Russian fellow chose a Dutch name for himself?

    • iain gleasure

      Maybe he likes Peter the Great, who loved the shit out of the Dutch?

      • Boter

        There is something there, going to look into that. On a sidenote I just realised the word vaarwel has been incorporated into English as ‘farewell’ comparable to the Dutch words rugzak (rucksack) and gangplank (gangplank). All sea/ship/sail terms.

    • sir_c

      Was it not a bottle of wodka? It was never seen ever since

  • RuySan

    This band has shitloads of albums on bandcamp with “Name your price” . I wonder where to start? This seems interesting.

  • HMG


  • Ivan Fernandes

    Just curiosity, is it possible to say 12:01 am? Just curiosity…

    • [not a Dr]

      At the antipodes.

  • TminusEight

    Sounds almost live, with the band playing it in a carpark. I really like that about it.

  • JL

    The embedded track is great. Thanks for reviewing this.

  • madhare

    *nerd alert* Wouldn’t 12:01 am be like one minute past midday? (And 00:01 am past midnight.) So everyone had a hangover?

    Which changes the utterance in question completely. (Feeble groans and mutterings of things like “never again…”)

  • El_Cuervo

    Wow I really like that little sampler. Now we just need for it to actually arrive on Bandcamp…

  • Monsterth Goatom

    The bandcamp page https://apocalypticwitchcraft.bandcamp [dot
    com]/album/the-prowess-of-dormition has the digital download version for £4. This is fine, but I’m a little confused why the Frozen Ocean bandcamp page (listed at the end of the review) doesn’t contain any link or info on this latest release (and all his other releases are Name Your Price). I guess he finally got signed to a label for this release, so the Apocalyptic Witchcraft page is probably legit.

  • TminusEight

    I keep listening to this track. Reminds me of Clock DVA… Dark electronica, so good.