Frozen Dawn – The Decline of the Enlightened Gods (Transcending Obscurity)

Friday, 10th February 2023
Rating: 8 / 10

When the topic of frosty, melodic black metal comes up, one typically doesn’t associate said sound with Madrid, Spain. However, it isn’t only residents of the Nordic lands who can conjure up frostbitten tunes. Frozen Dawn have been at it for a time (forming in 2006), and their sound has been an evolution over the years. Beginning as more Dark Funeral-esqe, abundant melody came into play with their second album, Those of the Cursed Light in 2014. A release of covers followed a few years later in 2017, and we’re now to their first original full-length in about nine years.

Frozen Dawn have decidedly doubled down on the Dissection/Necrophobic style of sound that they exhibited on the previously mentioned Those of the Cursed Light, and that approach fits absolutely. What hits immediately is a quicker tempo, exhibited by the searing guitar leads prominent on “Mystic Fires of Dark Allegiance.” This offering is accompanied by a background of thunderstorms and pouring rain; aptly framing the moody melodies that tie the track together. “Spellbound” continues the icy melodies with noteworthy drum beats, driving the rhythm of the song to give it the kick it requires.

“Black Reign Awaits” gives off a Dissection feel in its construction; not mimicking, however, as the track has a distinctive vibe. “Frozen Kings” exudes a significant melodic death metal form, entrenched with a soaring melody that is one of the biggest earworms on The Decline of the Enlightened Gods. “Oath of Forgotten Past” is another personal favorite, much due to vocalist/guitarist Dani Grinder’s snarling bellows, as well as a plethora of diverse guitar licks and harmonies weaving it all together. “Cosmic Black Chaos” is a bit of a throwback to the earlier 90s era of black metal, with the style of the guitar work, while keeping the melodic theme intact. “The Fall of Aeons” is an acoustic piece that gives the listener a brief late reprieve, before a fitting cover of Necrophobic’s “Blinded by Light, Enlightened by Darkness” closes the album.

A major positive difference on The Decline of the Enlightened Gods in comparison to the group’s previous works is a robust rhythm section that gives their music the kind of power that they needed to ascend to the next level. Drummer Arjan van der Wijst lays down a top performance, which gives this album that something extra. Dan Swano’s mastering job has – per usual with Mr. Swano – filled out Frozen Dawn’s sound, resulting in a release that’s grandiose and overflowing with zeal. Also notable is the beautiful cover artwork by the late and incredibly talented Mariusz Lewandowski (RIP), whose talents continue to enhance many album covers.

Frozen Dawn has been on the cusp of doing something great, and hadn’t quite realized that potential, until now. The Decline of the Enlightened Gods is an example of a band finding themselves, enhancing their strengths, shoring up what was previously lacking, and putting their best snow-covered boot forward (yes, it indeed can snow in Spain). What results is a crisp, chilly chunk of melodic black metal that is one of the early pleasant surprises of 2023.

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