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Thulcandra - "Under A Frozen Sun" (CD)

Thulcandra - "Under A Frozen Sun" CD cover image

"Under A Frozen Sun" track listing:

1. In Blood and Fire (8:35)
2. Black Flags of Hate (3:26)
3. Ritual of Sight (5:51)
4. Under a Frozen Sun (5:02)
5. Aeon of Darkness (5:05)
6. Echoing Voices (A Cold Breeze of Death) (3:51)
7. Gates of Eden (9:23)
8. Life Demise (Unanimated Cover) (4:08)

Reviewed by on September 25, 2011

"What Thulcandra has produced is a blasting opus of pure Nordic melodic black metal just as summer falls into winter's death vice."

In a time long ago, there was a band from the dark forests of Sweden named Dissection, led by Jon Nödtveidt. On August 16th, 2006, inside a circle of lit candles, Nödtveidt shot himself because he felt he had achieved all that he was meant to in this life. The rage of Nödtveidt, who was previously convicted of murder, may have died that day, but the spirit of the music was apparently transmitted to the German trio Thulcandra. "Under The Frozen Sun" continues where the band left off on its 2010 debut "Fallen Angel's Dominion." What Thulcandra has produced is a blasting opus of pure Nordic melodic black metal just as summer falls into winter's death vice. What follows is a "play by play" of your author's very first impressions.

The album opens with the deceptively melodic interlude of "In Blood In Fire." Within 45 seconds, that veil of safety is ripped to shreds by the blazing hyper drumming and chaotic screams from the icy grave. What's this? At 1:33, a slow down into a grunt that makes Tom Warrior cry "echo" and then back into the bombastic black metal barrage! The chorus is fantastically melodic, pausing like a break in the arctic fog just before the gale force ice wind howls again. Just before the halfway point of this eight minute opener, the band slows up with an infectious and memorable riff. But like a caged animal longing to break free, the song blasts forward in all its black metal fury. With three minutes left an incredible time change happens as the band erupts into an amazing minute and a half of salacious pure metal with an idyllic solo, courtesy of Sebastian Ludwig! Throughout the song, Thulcandra maintains a consistent melody on top of a relentless attack. As the song concludes, the listener is left frostbitten but ready for more.

"Black Flags Of Hate" fires off like a rapid machine gun and Steffen Kummerer bellows out his surprisingly coherent and tolerable screams that cascade over the top like a curtain of darkness killing the light. The chorus is brilliant with an absolutely perfect drum sound - adding the desired effect of pounding thunder from the hounds of hell. The strain of barbarous headbanging causes the familiar burning sensation of whiplash just before the song ends with another Warrior grunt. The song ends so fast it leaves you dazed, trying to recall the plate of the truck that just collided with your skull.

Before you can catch a breath, doubting your neck can make it through this whole eight song attack of brilliance, you are swept up in yet another tornado courtesy of "Ritual Of Sight." Fortunately, there is a forgiving break at the 2:05 mark. The speed cuts in half with another euphuistic bridge and more incredible wailing from Kummerer. Don't get too used to this pause...the song takes another 400 mph break neck journey while Kummerer never lets up on his remorseless defilement.

Finally, the title track starts and time for a much needed respite. Kummerer persists in his Antarctic gale of hellish shrieks. Compared to what is heard thus far, this song feels like wading through the merciless onslaught of an ice blizzard, which resists with brute force any forward progress made in knee high snow drifts. In place of rapid fire headbanging, the neck is now subjected to the more grinding and brutal compression. But just when you think you've heard it all, "Aeons Of Darkness" kicks in with a riff that possesses the listener and commands the cranium to snap. Pain is no longer relevant. This song is by far the best on the album, and that hint of melody scales up and down the side of the colossal riffs like a spider. With an amazing chorus, it is impossible for this to not rise to the top of the list of best black metal songs ever.

"Echoing Voices (A Cold Breeze Of Death)" smashes the face like the hammer of Thor. Kummerer screams as the listener falls in a helpless heap of man flesh. The buzzsaw riffs erupt with a full frontal incursion, and just as the song ends it eases into a soft melodic haze as if to pause and watch you bleed.

Now, as you look up at the last two remaining plagues of the release, "Gates Of Eden" and its impending 9:23 of fury appears like Mt. Everest. The song continues the whiplash but seems a bit softened by a much more melodic overtone. However it doesn't take long to begin ripping the cervical spine with blinding speed and wicked time changes. The pace is chaotic, first blazing straight forward and smashing into a wall, changing direction, and full tilt with another blinding riff. At the mid point the sound loses momentum, as if the band needs to gather its strength for what will be the final violent push to the finish.

It is hard to imagine a better album created by Dissection itself. Thulcandra has emerged as a premier melodic black metal act and has set the standard high with a masterpiece that will bury the unsuspecting listener in a blizzard of frigid ice and ten feet of snow.

Highs: This is black metal at its finest. "Aeons Of Darkness" is killer.

Lows: Songs run a tad long, but who is complaining?

Bottom line: A black metal masterpiece that will bury the unsuspecting listener in a blizzard of frigid ice and ten feet of snow.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)