Sentenced - _Frozen_
(Century Media, 1998)
by: Paul Schwarz (
In only four days _Frozen_ spun through twelve times in my CD player. This is not usual for me. It is worth explaining, or trying to, why this particular piece of plastic -was- spun so many times in my stereo in such a short space of time. The answer: I was hooked. _Frozen_, you see, is one of those albums which I can happily say satisfies on far more than one level. Sentenced have committed 48 minutes of music to tape which are addictive like hard drugs and lyrically as suicidal as an addiction to hard drugs. Before exploring _Frozen_'s musical tapestry further, a short look at where Sentenced are in their musical career. This is Sentenced's fifth full length and follows 1996's successful _Down_ album, which saw the replacement of long-time vocalist Taneli Jarva with Ville Laihaila, whose vocal talents also grace _Frozen_. The melodic approach which set _Down_ apart from older albums such as _North From Here_ is continued and adapted on _Frozen_. Apart from enjoying the music in this new direction of itself, what I enjoy so much about _Frozen_ specifically is its flow. Each track fits with the tracks around it and into its place in the album as a whole. Each new track is another step on Sentenced's way to musical Valhalla. Sentenced don't quite make it there this time, otherwise you would see a perfect rating at the top of this review, but they come damn close. This flow does not stop _Frozen_ from having highly individual songs. Part of the album's quality is the fact that all nine full songs (with three "instrumentals") can stand alone so perfectly while also composing such a highly structured album. Songs like "Farewell" or "Let Go (The Last Chapter)" are not ponderous or irrelevant when considered out of their position in _Frozen_'s entirety. Then again, the way that "Farewell" slides in from the majestic climax of "Kaamos" is brilliant and provides the perfect introduction-of-sorts for the song. _Frozen_ also sees Sentenced very effectively mixing the keyboards/orchestration part of their sounds with the classic guitars / bass / vocals / drums arrangements. This means that while the album still "rocks", it contains sweeping melody and tons of atmosphere. "For the Love I Bear" perfectly demonstrates the value of combining these elements effectively. It makes use of the keyboards and atmospheres in its verse to great effect. It also has a very catchy chorus full of guitar hooks and memorable vocal lines. However, Sentenced also build the song to a crescendo with drums and palm muted guitars, at which point Ville burps and a ripping, heavy rock solo ensues. _Frozen_ is a crafted album with much to explore in a recorded format. It also contains very well written songs which will sound great when the band plays them live without the additional orchestration, as they do. For my money, this is the best album of its kind which is likely to see the light of day this year and we should be thankful for it.
(article published 1/9/1998)
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