Frozen Soul burst into 2021 with their debut full length, Crypt Of Ice and turned heads with the sheer ferocity of their old school death metal assault. Rich Holmes caught up with vocalist Chad Green to talk OSDM, retro culture and why Bolt Thrower should be in the Big Four…
“It’s been insane.”
For Frozen Soul vocalist Chad Green, the last two years have been as wild as the snowstorms which have ravaged his native Texas.
The death metal act’s first demo – Encased In Ice – emerged in early 2019 on Maggot Stomp Records. They played their first show in March that year. And by May 2020, the quintet had signed for global giant Century Media.
The buzz surrounding the band’s debut album, Crypt Of Ice, had been building for months before its January release.
And the Billboard-charting record’s old school riff barrage and late 80s/early 90s death dynamics struck a chord with DM fans who hold Cause Of Death, Realm Of Chaos and Transcend The Rubicon close to their hearts.
Critics are already earmarking Crypt Of Ice for their end of year lists.
“We play the music we want to listen to, that moves us,” says Green, speaking to Rushonrock from a hiking trail in the Lone Star state. “Hopefully it moves other people and it apparently is, which is awesome.
“We never expected this to happen. I am 34 and I have been trying to play music for a very long time.
“I got my first drum set when I was 17 after getting my first job and saving up for it. Ever since then my eye has been on this.
“I am extremely honoured to have had this response. It is so humbling. It makes me appreciate life so much more.”
Green had been drumming for metallic hardcore act End Times since 2007, before the call of old school death metal became too strong to ignore.
A chance meeting with guitarist Michael Munday in a comic store saw the pair bond over a mutual love of Bolt Thrower – and accelerated the emergence of Frozen Soul from End Times’ chrysalis.
The band certainly wear their influences on their sleeves – and are proud to do so.
A cover of Mortician’s Witch’s Coven appeared on Encased In Ice and the presence of Karl Willetts and the Tardy brothers looms large over tracks like Wraith Of Death and Merciless.
“Bands like Bolt Thrower changed the game,” says Green on his love of the Midlands legends. “I have only seen Bolt Thrower one time, back in 2013, and it literally changed my life. It set the standard for death metal. I was like, ‘these guys and girl know it all, they have the secret!’.
“When I found at Bolt Thrower broke up I was so upset. But I like Memoriam a lot! I’ll support anything Karl does.”
He continues: “I think that Bolt Thrower should be in the big four of metal, they did things no other band could replicate.
“We can love Bolt Thrower and gain influence from Bolt Thrower, but we can never do what Bolt Thrower did. Nobody can.
“That is how I feel about Metallica. That’s how I feel about Obituary. That is how I feel about a lot of those older bands.
“And a lot of those bands changed the game when there was only beginning to be a game to change. They didn’t have much to go off back then. They didn’t have the internet and the things we have to learn.
“That is the soul of death metal. That is the soul of our band. We can expand, but at the end of the day that ‘soul’ is what we are after.
“I think with death metal it’s one of those things where if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. That kind of mentality is what we go through when we are writing death metal.”
Indeed, the last five years have seen a cascade of North American bands looking to late 80s Florida or Birmingham for direct inspiration – and eschewing both deathcore and the hyper-technical DM which found favour in the noughties in favour of a rawer, more organic sound.
You can now add Frozen Soul to a growing list that includes the likes of Necrot, Tomb Mold, Skeletal Remains, Undeath (like a “reincarnated Cannibal Corpse” – according to Green), Gatecreeper, Fuming Mouth, Sanguisugabogg and Blood Incantation.
“There are so many good bands now, I don’t even put ourselves on that totem pole, to be real with you,” admits Frozen Soul’s frontman. “Those guys are so much better than we are!”
Maybe the band’s growing fanbase would disagree with that…
So why has this new wave broken over the extreme metal scene?
And why now?
Green cites the influence of independent labels such as Maggot Stomp, Headsplit Records, 20 Buck Spin, Desert Wastelands and Extremely Rotten, who have done much to champion old school death metal over the last decade.
He says: “They have done a good job in showing people that things were always really sick and really cool, and the ideas were fun, and you didn’t need to get super digital, you didn’t need to go super over the top.
“It’s not a game of being better than someone else, which I feel a lot of musicians fall into.
“(Death metal) just evolved too fast out of people competing with each other and not focusing on having fun. That is the big thing. Those labels showed people that the old way could be fun.
“There are still new ways to do it. You can do the same thing but differently and have fun with it.”
However, the Texan suggests there is a wider context to old school death metal’s resurgence…
“In an age of crazy digitalisation, people are really starting to reappreciate holding something and seeing something physically, that’s why you all see this retro stuff coming back,” he says. “It’s not even just in death metal, you see it in video games, you see it in movies, all the movies are retro because it felt more ‘real’ back then.
“Nowadays it doesn’t feel as real. People at the end of the day need to hold on to something. They need to see it. They need to feel it.”
He continues: “That’s what this old school revival is doing, it is bringing back that reality.
“I wish I was old enough to have gone to shows in the 80s and to see this resurgence right now. I bet it is so awesome to have seen Bolt Thrower back then and to see bands now paying odes to those gangsters!”
What’s next for Frozen Soul?
With the world in pandemic hibernation, Frozen Soul can’t play the shows and hit the festivals that would have normally followed a successful debut.
But Covid-19 hasn’t stopped the band – who also feature bassist Samantha Mobley, guitarist Chris Bonner and drummer Matt Dennard – completely in their tracks.
They’ve worked hard on putting their own Wrecking Ball Metal Madness live stream together. A DIY effort, produced with the help of the band’s friends, the first show featured fellow Texans Creeping Death and Devourment, as well as Frozen Soul themselves.
New videos are in the making. Tours are being planned for the autumn. And when the pandemic ends, they want to hit the world “none stop”.
But don’t expect Frozen Soul to flip the script when it comes to the follow-up to Crypt of Ice.
“We love old school death metal,” concludes Green. “And that’s what we want to write.”