How FROZEN SOUL teamed with TRIVIUM's Matt Heafy for the "caveman death-metal" album of 2023 | Revolver

How FROZEN SOUL teamed with TRIVIUM's Matt Heafy for the "caveman death-metal" album of 2023

Inside Texas upstarts' most chilling record yet
Frozen soul live 2023 1600x900, Gray Muncy
Frozen Soul’s Chad Green and Samantha Mobley
photograph by Gray Muncy

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Before Frozen Soul vocalist Chad Green was a metalhead, he was a fantasy gamer. In fact, much of the highly touted Dallas death-metal crew met while competing in Magic: The Gathering tournaments, Green even working at a local card shop when he first connected with bassist Samantha Mobley and guitarist Michael Munday. On tour, they still break out their Magic decks to cast spells and attacks on each other between shows.

Naturally, Green mined themes of icy battles, wraiths and gruesome violence for their buzz-worthy 2021 debut, Crypt of Ice. But when tragedy unexpectedly struck during the making of its follow-up, Glacial Domination, Frozen Soul's fantasy-driven plains became a way for the frontman to process and grieve his very real loss.

"My brother died of an overdose. He was struggling for a while, but it caught us all off guard," Green explains of his late sibling Cory, who passed in the summer of 2022. At the time, Frozen Soul were not only set to complete work on Glacial Domination, but about to stage their annual Wrecking Ball Metal Madness fest (with fellow Texas heavyweights Creeping Death, Fugitive, Tribal Gaze and more).

Green channeled his pain into their live performances and their new album, in particular the record's "Arsenal of War." For that riotous thrasher, Green and his brother Josh wrote out a set of lyrics that not only reflected their love for online RPG EverQuest, but the memory of Cory.

"Having Cory's death [occur] in the middle of all this was almost backbreaking — there were times where … I wanted to lose myself in video games. But having the band and Josh all involved in doing this [brought] the love back into it, [after] I felt like all the love was sucked out of my body. It was the best coping mechanism."

The results, as heard on Glacial Domination, are devastating on multiple levels. With help from co-producer and Trivium titan Matt Heafy, the quintet — Green, Mobley, Munday, guitarist Chris Bonner and drummer Matt Dennard — crafted a profoundly punishing collection that brings classic, caveman death metal into a thrillingly virulent modern Ice Age. Fittingly, the album unites the old and new guards through guest spots from Heafy, Dying Fetus' John Gallagher, Creeping Death's Reese Alavi, and Blake Ibanez of Fugitive and Power Trip.

Considering how fantasy and horror have been a central part of Frozen Soul's aesthetic since day one, monsters are everywhere on Glacial Domination. A Godzilla-like figure wreaks havoc on an unnamed metropolis in "Atomic Winter;" a yeti hurls folks into a "frigid grave" on "Abominable;" and the shapeshifting creature from John Carpenter's The Thing terrorizes an Antarctic crew on the epically hammered-down "Assimilator."

On the other hand, there's a distinct nobility that sets the EverQuest-themed hero of "Arsenal of War" apart from Glacial Domination's general rogues gallery — a figure whom, Green howls, flings "arrows … so bright they carve out the darkness."

"It's about this ranger that is being followed by this darkness that he's had to fight, for forever.  Eventually he loses the battle, but he is able to let out an arrow at the last second, and it ends up piercing this [figure], and sending it away [wounded]," the vocalist explains, adding that the song references various elements of EverQuest, a game he and his brothers were introduced to decades ago by their uncle.

Shortly thereafter, Green signed up and created a character of his own named Swiftarroww. He'd ultimately pass his avatar off to Cory, who merged with the virtuous, virtual Swiftarroww for another 20 years.

Of how the hero's journey on "Arsenal of War" reflects his younger brother's spirit, Green continues: "It's like the light was everything Cory had in him, and it lives on in everybody that knew him. He was a kind dude that was always there for you if you needed him. Even in his darkest moments, he never let that change him."

In line with the Frozen Soul vocalist's gaming heritage, Green continues to level up within Texas' music scene. When he was a teenager, friends introduced him to bands like Madball, and by 11th grade he was going to big-ticket metal concerts and local hardcore bashes. Going to shows is where he met future icons like late Power Trip vocalist Riley Gale.

A shy teen, Green bonded with Gale over their respectively crummy jobs at electronics stores. "I wasn't the type of guy that goes up and says, 'Hey man … can we become friends?' I would just do my thing. But Riley actually introduced himself to me and welcomed me. It's one of the only reasons why I'm here today."

Before fronting Frozen Soul, Green manned drums for hardcore acts including All Will Fail, Vulgar Display and End Times (the latter featuring his brother Josh on vocals). By 2018, he stepped out from behind the kit and began conceptualizing Frozen Soul with Magic-pal Munday as a brutal death-metal venture paying homage to Heartwork-era Carcass and the inherently groove-fracked culture of the Lonestar State.

"We always try and stick to the pocket of groove; that's just Texas," explains Green. "You can hear it in Creeping Death, Power Trip or Mammoth Grinder, and in a lot of the hardcore bands like Judiciary. It's got a swing to it that you can't hide from. It's what we've all grown up on."

Naturally, a hard-swung, Neanderthal heaviness was key to the band's Encased in Ice demo from 2019, as well as Crypt of Ice. Glacial Domination maintains that viciousness while adding a darkly melodic edge, as well as a series of profoundly wailing solos from its band members and guests Heafy and Ibanez. Green notes of the evolution: "You start out like, 'We're a caveman death-metal band. We don't play solos. We're just joking around.' But we want to do more, obviously. I mean, who doesn't love a ripping-ass solo?"

Despite its frigid outlook, pre-production for Glacial Domination took place with Heafy and co-producer Daniel Schmuck — the latter a former Frozen Soul guitarist himself — beneath a blazing Florida sun; the band recorded demos while borrowing Trivium's gear. By the time Frozen Soul and Schmuck made it back to Texas to track the album at Dallas' Empire Studios, Trivium were out on the road supporting Iron Maiden. Heafy nevertheless continued to support the group with words of wisdom sent via text. A note the iconic King Diamond had left on a lyric stand the last time he'd rolled through the studio also offered happenstance advice: play hard, play fast.

While a meaty, mid-tempo heft anchors Glacial Domination's title track, elsewhere Frozen Soul get blast-happy ("Morbid Effigy," "Invisible Tormentor") or bring things to a sweat-inducing thrash tempo with the aforementioned "Arsenal of War." "It draws influence from Texas bands like Power Trip and Creeping Death, because those are bands Cory absolutely adored, [and] would do whirlwind mosh moves to throughout the years," Green explains of the latter, which adds Alavi's backup growls and some dive-bombs Ibanez dropped in on the fly.

While clearly touching on deep, personal trauma, Green notes there's still room for lighthearted, if brutally frostbitten, death-metal fun on Glacial Domination. As a cinephile, he points to the chaotic lands of the Kaiju-infested "Atomic Winter" or the goopy paranoia of The Thing-themed "Assimilator."

"It's one of my all-time favorite movies," Green says of the latter, the band likewise doubling down on their affinity for filmmaker/composer John Carpenter through Glacial Domination's series of bone-chilling synth interludes. "I love horror, sci-fi and fantasy movies. I definitely want to do something [referential] like that again."

Of where Frozen Soul could take their icy theme next, he quips: "Who knows, maybe we'll write a lore song based on Disney's Frozen!"