Rexoria – Ice Breaker Review

Rexoria - Ice Breaker 01What makes an album interesting? It’s a whole different question from what makes one good, isn’t it? It’s perhaps even more subjective than quality. You can at least recognize technical skill, clarity of production and such when discussing quality. What makes something interesting is a whole different ballgame. Until the Sky Dies has 146 comments to this day and remains a staple of the website, so for all the ways in which it is an abomination (and there are many), it is one of the most interesting records we’ve seen so far. But who among you remember, to grab a random example, The Living? Same autumn as Until the Sky Dies, a very nice 3.5, but I’d mostly forgotten about them myself before going back through my own reviews. Fact is, the memories of most of the albums we write about are fleeting, despite the musicians pouring their hearts and souls into what they do. A fate, I fear, may befall Swedish heavy/power outfit Rexoria as well.

And like I said, it’s not because it’s a bad band at all. Rexoria play the sort of metal that’s the bread and butter of countrymen Dream Evil, whose vocalist guest-stars on the Swedish language closer “Var Verklighet.” So expect a healthy dose of cheese, lots of dual-guitar riffing without going into extended noodling, and a mixture of energetic gallops, and pompous mid-pace anthems. Most immediately surprising is vocalist Frida Ohlin, who largely eschews the tired semi-operatic route and, instead, takes more after Unleash The Archer’s Brittney Slayes, albeit in a timbre both thinner and higher-pitched. The songwriting is largely solid as well, with some excellent choruses, particularly in the back half of the album, with “Brothers of Asgaard” and “The Raging Thunder” two of the best tracks.

And yet Ice Breaker is not particularly interesting a record. There is very little putting this apart from any of its contemporaries. The hooks and riffs are good, but not great. Frida is a solid vocalist, but she lacks the power to really make a lasting impression. The songwriting may not have any particular flaws, but it gets pretty predictable, using very basic structures and no tricks or surprises. Really, the most interesting parts of Ice Breaker are its occasional poor choices. The title track uses a news broadcast about Miami being flooded due to global warming, but the track itself remains utterly superficial on the subject. It’s followed by an outright bad instrumental interlude that does nothing but fill time.

Rexoria - Ice Breaker 02

An album whose failures are more interesting than its successes may be the ultimate way to tell a decent album from a mediocre one. I stress mediocre because Ice Breaker really isn’t a bad album. There’s some genuine craftsmanship at work, and I’m willing to bet SwordBorn (Jorn rest what remains of his soul) would have eaten this up like a stack of Girl Scout cookies. It has some tight riffs, a couple of fun solos. Even the production is not too shabby, though perhaps a smidge clinical. But none of it stands out enough to really get me nodding appreciatively, while the occasionally misplaced gang vocals supporting Frida (“Fight The Demons,” for instance) draw my attention instantly, just not in a good way.

I don’t usually feel much remorse for scoring down any album. The job of a critic is being critical, after all, and the middle of the pack is necessarily bigger than the frontrunners or the stragglers. In the case of Rexoria, though, I feel like they deserve more than I am able to give them. This is a professional album with some really good material on board. But I have to be honest to myself and to you, and Ice Breaker just doesn’t draw me in enough to give it a higher score. If you’re a hardcore fan of the genre, you’ll likely appreciate it more than I do. Myself, I fear this album will quickly be forgotten. It is simply not interesting enough for anything more.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Pride & Joy Music
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: October 18th, 2019

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