It has oft been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and that is certainly true among metal bands. Every group has its humble origins, whether playing covers or paying homage. For the listeners, this can swing the decision: either the imitation is up to par with the original and also stands on its own merits, or they feel it would be better to stick to listening to the heroes. Fortunately for Finnish folk-melodeath outfit Frosttide, their second EP Our Journey stands on its own merits as well as conjuring images of countrymen Ensiferum, Insomnium in their infancy and Brymir.
Most of the EP unfolds as expected: quick-paced guitar-driven folk metal, the drums blasting away merrily under the constant melodies and melodeath-chug sections that recall a little of Omnium Gatherum crossed with the aforementioned Brymir, and a healthy dose of atmospheric synth coating each track. Finally, the vocals are a dead-ringer for Niilo Sevänen in his older days, guttural growls which make a change from the usual high-pitched shrieks in this genre. The overall effect leaves little room for complaint; no individual track stands head-and-shoulders above the others, but then again they’re all enjoyable songs.
Frosttide are careful not to get stuck in a musical rut, as the varying influences show; the closest to Ensiferum occurs in “Carefree Village”, both musically and lyrically, with references to taverns and drinking camaraderie abound. “Face Your Demons” sees a touch of Russian-styled melancholy slipped in with its acoustic strumming, while “Assault” contains unabashed Euro-power metal cheese with a lengthy melodic guitar solo. The album closes on “No Turning Back”, a more somber affair that feels ‘heavier’ than the other 4 tracks, partly evoking Insomnium’s older days, slowing down the tempo for a more grandiose exit.
That all said, the group are very clear about putting the “folk” firmly in folk metal, as the numerous acoustic interludes that pepper each track show. Some transitions are smoother than others, but the acoustic bits themselves are well-executed. The keyboards are also of note, unobtrusive when not required and proudly prominent when dueling with the guitars. The band work cohesively as a unit, which makes it tough to pick out individual flaws with their approach. A small oversight in the production buries the opening lead of “Assault”, and an opportune moment for a ripping solo in “Enemy Is Back” is missed, but the general outcome of the EP results in a thumbs-up. The main ‘flaw’ is that, while this 5-track is an excellent example of the genre, it doesn’t add anything new to it.
While Our Journey EP will not make somebody who is sworn-off folk metal into a diehard listener overnight, those who know and appreciate the genre will find much to gain from spinning this disc. Frosttide seem very comfortable with the spot they occupy in the spectrum; from this point it would be feasible for them to explore their boundaries on a full-length release, which if they can do while retaining the catchiness of this EP, will put them at the forefront of the new wave of Finnish folk-melodeath.
1. Enemy Is Back
2. Carefree Village
3. Face Your Demons
5. No Turning Back
Joonas Nislin – Drums
Juho Patinen – Guitars, Vocals (backing)
Felipe Munoz – Keyboards (Avenie, Crystalic)
Joni Snoro – Guitars, Vocals (2009-present)