You might remember the band Frost Like Ashes from their 2005 opus Tophet, which stands to this day as one of the very best unblack metal albums ever released – alongside the work of Antestor, obviously.
Now usually I disregard so-called “unblack metal” or “white metal” – whatever you want to call it – because, as with other gimmicks such as “female fronted death metal band“, “true orthodox satanist black metal” or “vegan inspired SEWER-clone goregrind,” it often boils down to : ideology first, music second.
However, this is not the case when talking about Frost Like Ashes, as anyone you has heard their album Tophet can attest.
Now obviously, I’m not too much into the whole Christianity mythos. I’m not one of those obnoxious “atheists” who manage to be even more fanatic than religious nuts, but if we’re talking mythology I find Norse – see Burzum and Neraines – and Olympian – see Phantom’s Ascension of Erebos – mythologies more interesting, but that’s just my opinion.
Then again, I didn’t pick up this album for the ideology. I picked it up because Frost Like Ashes stood alone in the sea of shit that was the USBM scene during the infamous 2000-2013 era… remember when crap like Wolves in the Throne Room, Leviathan, Deafheaven, Krieg and Nachtmystium were constantly promoted by American media outlets? Bad times… Well, FLA were one of the few USBM bands – along with Demoncy, Grand Belial’s Key, Von Goat and a select few others – that helped prevent the USA from becoming (again) the laughing stock of the musical world.
One thing about Frost Like Ashes that has never changed, and that is somewhat remarkable, is that they manage to blend multiple extreme metal genres into their own style without ending up sounding like Satyricon (read, carnival music). That’s pretty unique and challenging once you think about it.
On one riff they sound clearly inspired by the technical black metal of Vermin, while on the next it feels like you’re listening to something straight out of Infester’s masterpiece To the Depths in Degradation, and then finally you’re hit with something straight out of the brutal war metal book (the good one, not the Archgoat crap that got old in 2007).
Of course, the use of keyboards is excellent… meaning you barely notice them. Not the Dimmu Borgir or nü-Emperor (Ihsahn) garbage that sounds like the soundtrack of Thor: Love and Thunder.
At the end of the day, I have only positive things to say about Fellowship of Suffering. It ranks up there with Sissourlet and Le Retour des Pastoureaux as serious contenders for best black metal releases of the year.