Freedom of Fear – Carpathia [Things you Might Have Missed 2022]

As the year grinds to a close, it is time to reflect on the rich heavy music landscape of 2022 and unload the Things You Might Have Missed tradition. Released in October, the sophomore full-length from unheralded Australian outfit, the oddly named Freedom of Fear, has rapidly grown on me like a fast-advancing fungus. Carpathia is a fun blast that is easy to like, evoking sweet ’90s nostalgia, coupled with cutting-edge modern tropes. The formula is not wholly original, however, the slick execution and cobbling of influences works an absolute treat, and the album bursts with energy, stunning musicianship and sticky hooks to keep you clambering back for more of the sweet, sweet action.

Freedom of Fear rig up a dynamic sound, welding influences including 90’s symphonic black metal, traces of the classic Gothenburg sound, and a heavy dose of blistering tech death, recalling the legendary Necrophagist, fluent proggy, flair of Obscura, and shades of the knotty, grooving dissonance of Gomorrah. Freedom of Fear is an insanely gifted bunch, and their musical abilities are on full display throughout an album that revels in synth-drenched drama, blackened aggression, bruising heft, and dazzling technicality. The young outfit ooze confidence and astonishing musical skill. However, this would count for little if the writing fell short, or influences bled too deeply. Fortunately, this is not the case.

Perhaps not surprising considering the techy influences shining through, the one and only Hannes Grossman lends his unmatched skills as session drummer. Combined with the symphonic backdrop and dual guitar shredding, the blasty, thrashy rhythmic attack, shared between Grossman and bassist Georgina Kittel, lends the album an aggressive, urgent spirit, propelling such enticing cuts as blistering opener “Zenith,” Gothenburg-tinged surge of “Primordius,” and majestic, shred-laden “Nebula,” strewn with charred melodies and killer atmosphere. The playful melodic bounce of “Immortals” exhibits measured mid-pacing, quality riffs and tons of blackened sympho groove, “Entities” explores darker, dissonant death metal territory, while closing statement “Gatekeeper” places a classy exclamation point on the album.

The dual guitar work of Matt G. Walters and Corey J. Davis, who both pull double duties on synths, form a constant source of inspiration. Dazzling, fretwork-frying axework, both flamboyant and compelling, is enough to singe nose hairs and induce second-hand callouses, all while servicing quality songs with gripping hooks across a remarkably consistent album. Meanwhile, Jade Monserrat unleashes an impressive array of deathly roars and blackened screams and rasps. Her higher register blackened styles sound especially seething and potent. The consistent quality of Carpathia, memorable writing, and acrobatic technical wizardry solidifies the album as a rousing success that should garner plenty of attention and raise the profile of these Adelaide upstarts.

Time will tell where Carpathia sits in the wash-up of 2022, but its status has grown considerably during a short period, and I am nowhere near sick of its twisty, blackened tech charms. Listeners with a soft spot for ’90s symphonic black and melodeath, who are not opposed to shreddy indulgence, would be wise to check this one out. Refreshingly, one gets the feeling even greater things are in store for the band’s bright future as they refine their writing skills and hone a more unique identity.

Tracks to Check Out: ”Zenith,” “Nebula,” “Entities,” “Immortal,” “Gatekeeper”

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