Review Summary: Thulcandra vary up their sound while staying true to their roots.
Thulcandra were formed to celebrate bands from the golden age of Swedish extreme metal. They essentially play a modernized style of Swedish blackened death metal in the vein of bands like Dissection and Sacramentum. Melody and complex instrumentation are emphasized, alongside their own vision for what they depict in imagery and sound with their influences. An interesting fact to note is how all of their covers feature the same skeletal reaper in the same frozen wasteland, giving their albums a connected theme. They each feel like connected chapters of a larger vision, and each album has a similar sound for a reason. Thulcandra are passionate about their roots, and their albums do an impressive job of showing it. Under A Frozen Sun
kick off with the band's most ferocious and powerful song yet, "In Blood and Fire." An acoustic guitar intro quickly gives way to pounding drumming, and soon enough some of their most evil sounding guitar riffs and tremolo picked melodies yet. The eight-minute epic slows down briefly in the middle, but this doesn't last too long. Soon enough it kicks back into full force, Steffan Kummerer's tortured screams adding to the ferocious whirlwind of musical insanity. Toward the end, it slows again for some epic passages of riffing and soloing. It then returns to the main riffs and melodies, before eventually crashing to a halt for the acoustic intro returning while electric guitars harmonize in the background.
"In Blood and Fire" is the best example of what Thulcandra do best: a punishing mix of black and death metal with moments of melody and thrash riffs juxtaposed with a minimal use of quieter moments. The rest of the tracks exhibit different areas of these strengths. "Ritual of Sight" in particular makes use of melodic thrash riffing in the bridge alongside anthemic vocals, before speeding up again to make way for crushing blast beats and melodic soloing. Thulcandra are content to pay homage to their influences while squeezing all of their strengths into each song. The title track in particular features an abundance of melodic passages, along with riffing and atmospheric guitarwork with mostly midtempo drumming. Soloing and acoustic guitar strumming appear later, making for one of their most melodic and varied songs to date. "Aeon of Darkness" is particularly impressive in the varied guitar riffing and tempo changes.
"Echoing Voices (A Cold Breeze of Death)" is one of the shortest songs of Thulcandra's career, a true speed demon with one of the most evil sounding guitar leads during the bridge and outro. Ferocious tremolo picking, screaming, and blasts permeate the rest. Clocking in at almost 10 minutes long, album closer "Gates of Eden" brings everything together with some of the most creative and technical riffs the guitarists have ever penned to record. It closes with an epic extended solo full of guitar shredding and tapping. Under A Frozen Sun
doesn't do a whole lot different from Thulcandra's debut, but it does see the bandmembers flex their muscles in more ways then before. Their balance of melody with increased ferocity appear at just the right times, edging out their debut for being more ambitious in songwriting and musical variety. This second effort shows a noticeable increase in songwriting maturity, but it won't be until their third album that Thulcandra will truly show what they are capable of.