ZT INTERROGATION: FROSTHELM DISCUSS UPCOMING ALBUM, WINTER, DEATH, AND MORE…
Frosthelm hail from North Dakota, a place not known for its black/thrash scene. Nevertheless, this is exactly what Frosthelm deliver since their formation in 2009: relentless, bludgeoning and multi-dimensional black/thrash. Following their The Northwinds Rend Flesh EP of 2012, Frosthelm are now ready to strike again with their debut full-length album The Endless Winter.
I propose to Dakota L. Irwin (Forsthelm guitarist) that I hear a strong Scandinavian (especially Finnish) black metal influence on their sound, as well as the influence of American thrash/death. Black/thrash yes, but do they consider themselves thrash or black? “Black metal” comes the strict reply by a man who nevertheless proves to be quite talkative and rich with ideas. Asked about their influences, Irwin begins: “A few off the top of my head would be Dissection, Metallica, Slayer, Mayhem, Immortal, and Sacramentum. I know the other guys are into bands like Death, Immolation, Deathspell Omega and Morbid Angel”. It turns out it’s not only musical influences that play a decisive role in shaping Frosthelm’s sound, however: “There are lots of things that inspire me to write, and I try to be as sincere and honest as I can. The day to day. The weather. Sometimes the way my guitar is sounding. The bleak winter landscape and relative isolation is a big part of how we sound. The cold here is bitter, the night is dark, and the wind comes howling off of the prairie and cuts like razors. Here, in winter, everything is dead.”
Frosthelm songs walk a thin line between straight-ahead urgency and complex riffs/changes. I ask Irwin if they do most of the work at home, each on his own, or at the studio, collectively. “For this release and the one before, each song starts out as a demo at home. I write for a bit, jam with the guys on it, get more ideas, and then go home, write some more and produce an updated demo. Some of the songs have gone through so many updates and changes that I’ve lost count and sound nothing like the original idea. Then we’ll start to add the lyrics and get the deliveries right. We try to keep the quality of the songwriting as high as possible.” … “Two of the songs had the vocal ideas done on the fly in the studio. They came out pretty good!” he adds after a short pause.
Death. Winter. Isolation. How are those reflected in Frosthelm’s lyrics? “All of the lyrics are very personal and that was the intention for this record from the start. Some of it is masked in metaphors, some of it is face value. Topics include anger, darkness, personal loss, despair, mistrust and disgust”
Is winter nature’s strongest weapon? “Absolutely. Anyone who lives where it’s winter for at least six months out of the year would probably agree. Everything gets tougher in winter, even simple things like getting the car started.”
Death by fire or death by cold? “I would think that burning to death would be quicker but more painful, and being frozen alive would be slow and agonizing. Being frozen, you get a bit of time to think about what’s happening to you. Feeling your limbs freeze and stop functioning, and having your organs shut down one by one would be worse than the pain of burning I believe. I guess I’d choose fire.”
Abandoning winter and death for something more tangible, I ask Irwin how he feels about The Endless Winter. “I’m fairly content with how it turned out, but I’m very relieved that it was finally completed. It’s the most personal material we’ve written so far and the blood, sweat and tears that went into the record from start to finish was very intense at times for all of us. Looking back there are some things that I would have liked to do a bit differently but I’m sure that most musicians would feel that way.” Future plans? “We have a Midwest tour coming up in May. Also, we’re getting some new merch out there and working on a music video. We’re kicking some new song ideas around too.”