Norwegian noise terrorists, Frostbitt, aim to disrupt. Their music is as iconoclastic as metal can be with riffs that resemble dupstep drops and glitchy squeal effects that sound like a robot experiencing orgasm. They produced their first record in 2015 when people were still enthusiastic for experimental djent music, and they now return with their third LP like a group that went back in time. In this case, they tried to get back to the future but ended up in 1996 in the aftermath of Korn’s Life is Peachy album. Fortunately for them – maybe not us – they remembered to bring their eight-string guitars when packing their time-travelling kit.
You’ll find much to offend here if you lament how nu metal now has a revivalist audience among the millennial and ‘zoomer’ generations of metal heads. One dreads to think how the metal elitists in their homeland of Norway will react when they hear the opening title track. The absurd violence of the staccato guitars and monstrous distortion of bass will remind you of Car Bomb and Frontierer until vocalist, Ivan Hansen, enters the mix with his finest Jonathan Davis impression. He switches to Chino Moreno (Deftones) in the chorus after a scintillating vocoder arrangement and embarks on a Jens Kidman (Meshuggah) rage in the next section. The grooves are chaotic and jagged, yet the band have an ear for melody among this whirlwind of lethal electricity. ‘Masked Ghost Host’ poses the question: why have more artists not combined Meshuggah and Korn in their blending machine when aiming for a distinct sound?
The main bugbear of this album is the blatant imitation of Jonathan Davis on most of the songs. ‘Full Body Plutonium’ showcases a thrilling jazz fusion guitar solo and highlights the rhythmic talent of the group, but you’ll find it hard to overlook the derivative moments at the microphone. Sometimes, Frostbitt succeed in finding the audio paradigm that belongs to them rather than the nu metal artists of yesteryear. Let’s be clear: Korn and Deftones never sounded as crushing and as brutal as this in the 1990s, but they didn’t have the equipment today’s bands have at their fingertips. ‘Cyber Walk’ is a twenty-first century update on the graffiti approach of Frostbitt’s alternative American heroes. The absurd flatulence of the low-tuned guitars makes you feel like you’re stuck in a marsh with no prospect of finding dry land before the evening darkness arrives. Even Reflections would not contemplate the swishing palm-muted zap riffs of ‘Cancel Culture’ or ‘Bionic Scrapyard’, the latter of which incorporates math rock patterns but sounds like a Skrillex remix of Korn. Oh, wait… That happened in 2011, right?
Your head tells you this is all hot air and no substance, yet your instincts warm to Frostbitt’s risk-taking and ability to reach new heights of pulverising violence. Drummer, Steffen Amandus Nielsen, has no choice but to insert rapid fills after almost every bar to keep up with the unpredictable guitar rhythms. ‘Sub-Zero Humanoid’ is unashamed of its noise pollution and hopes you’ll feel nauseous after one listen. The whole album would be even more exciting if it avoided the nu metal pastiche moments like the pseudo-rap delivery of closing track, ‘106’.
We need bands with new ideas in a world of abundant death metal monotony and black metal saturation, and Frostbitt know how to generate excitement. But they’ll attract as many haters as plaudits with one foot in 1996 and the other in a ‘thall’ puzzle.
Release Date: 06/01/2023
Record Label: Self Released
Standout tracks: MACHINE DESTROY, Cyber Walk, Bionic Scrapyard
Suggested Further Listening: Korn – Life is Peachy (1996), Reflections – Willow (2020), Space of Variations – IMAGO (2022)