Reviewing records can be a task but as a music lover, I relish the opportunity to check out new music and discuss it, even if it’s like talking to myself with a review that might not get any feedback or discussion going. I take the good with the bad and still enjoy the experience (most of the time) listening to the bad records and discussing them. What I truly fond of is when I’m given a record that knocks the words out of my mouth. Sure, it’s a bit challenging when it comes time to write about it but I’d rather be speechless than uninspired completely. This is where I found myself with Frost Giant’s first release in 3 years, The Harlot Star.

I’m a firm believer that in order to effectively play a certain style of music, you have to be entrenched in it as a fan. You can’t listen to one band and give it a whirl. I mean, there are certainly exceptions to the rules, but I still think you’ll be picked out as a poser if you try to cash in on a trend or write something outside of the realm of what you are feeding your brain normally when you listen to music. Now, what happens if the creative force behind said band is a music aficionado and doesn’t really have that many boundaries when it comes to the music they are digesting on a daily basis? Well, you get Frost Giant as vocalist/guitarist Matt Frost, the band’s central component, is an actual lover of music. For Odin’s sake, he covered Adele on the band’s last release. His ever expanding horizon of musical adventure and his choice to wear his influences on his sleeve bleed entirely into this body of work. It’s a courageous path to take because genre enthusiasts can tend to be snobs and want only conformity, rather than experimentation, but I’m 100% that writing this way is immensely cathartic to the artist.

Now for the actual music. Well if I was forced to sum this up in as little as words as possible, this is definitely progressive folk metal as that is without question the foundation of the music. Admittedly, that was all I got out of my first spin of it too. However, in the subsequent spins in which you get more familiar with the music, you start to peel back the layers and the Matt’s influences start to pour out like a sieve. Power, thrash, black, folk metal is all there but there is also hardcore breakdowns and riffs that seem plucked right from NoFx’s Decline sessions floor. What’s most impressive is how these songs are arranged. I’m familiar with Matt’s admiration for Devin Townsend this probably had the greatest impact on the growth of the song writing between the last EP and this full length. While I’m not necessarily a fan of any Townsend project, I can appreciate his knack for formulating a song, especially in his more recent ventures with his Devin Townsend Project, specifically the Transcendence, Sky Blue, and Epicloud records. They aren’t just written songs; they are orchestrations with a ton of chances taken. The Harlot Star is definitely Frost’s most ambitious release spanning all of the musical endeavors he’s ever been a part of. With instrumentals, an a capella track, experimentation with acoustics, blast beats, ballads, and vocal harmonizing to accompany the more traditionally aggressive metal songs, this album plays out like a story, or a tale if you will, weaving in and out of genres and themes.

Stepping outside of the generalization of the album, I want to hone in on three specific tracks on this record. The first is the a capella track I mentioned earlier called An Exile In Storm. I can only imagine that it’s a very vulnerable feeling for a vocalist in a metal band, or any band, to ditch the music and take on the song alone. I’m sure each individual song is near and dear to the artist’s heart but this is the first specific track where you can hear the emotion. I’m not sure if this song is metaphoric for a time that the writer had to leave his own home and take on the world or if it’s just a simple tale but as the song progresses from the dark to the light (you’ll understand when you hear it), Matt’s soul is put on display the more and more the backing vocals start to harmonize with the main. I typically skip over tracks like this to get back to the meat of the music but I haven’t been able to do that so far with this. In the album’s journey, this is part of the path I must take. The next track that gets a spotlight is the immediate next track on the record, Prisoner Of The Past. This is probably the best representation of Frost Giant, if you needed one specific track to present a listener with what they should expect. This is an amplified improvement on the basic idea that was the EP. It’s a blistering folk metal track that reminds me a lot of Koorpiklaani, if they were a bit thrashier. It’s an absolutely infectious song and the folkish chanting will be firmly imbedded in your brain forever. (I’m actually doing it in my head as I type this). The last track that I want to bring special attention to is the apex of the record, track 9’s Of Clarity And Regret. I honestly don’t know if I have the correct words for this song. This one left me speechless. I’m fairly certain this is the most personal track on the album as it’s a love song. This song is absolutely perfect and if the record was technically coming out this year, I would have made it my favorite song of 2017. From the death metal opening, the emotionally charged vocals, absolutely spellbinding leads, an epic breakdown that binds hardcore with power metal, and calming fade out that gives me goose bumps, this song has it all. Actually knowing the artist may have given me an unfair advantage going into this song but when Matt proclaims “You are my life. For better or worse, till death do us part” I get chills every single time as this part of the song, I feel at least, is Matt Frost laying his absolute, unfiltered self out there for the world to see and hear. I’ve probably listened to this song a good 30 times in the last week and it still hits me ridiculously hard in the feels.

As I said in the beginning, I’m a lover of music. Sometimes I do just want something that sounds good, is familiar, and lets me just rock the fuck out. Other times I want a bit of a challenge. I want to go on the odyssey with the band and Frost Giant has given me an opportunity to that. This album certainly isn’t going to be for everyone, despite having a little something for everyone, but that’s ok. Those that tend to gravitate towards to these types or those that are willing to take a chance, will certainly enjoy the ride. I can’t honestly recommend this any higher and I hope that people do take a chance on it because it’s just a very well-crafted record that deserves your attention.