Freeze the Atlantic have been through some key line-up changes since their debut album Speakeasy. Even though Sean Shreeve had joined the band on bass duties by the time Speakeasy was released, it was actually Jon Pearce who wrote and recorded all the bass on that release. Freeze the Atlantic’s self-titled follow-up is actually Shreeve’s first written material with the band. Freeze the Atlantic have also had a change in vocalist with Chris Knott being replaced by previous guest vocalist Liv Puente who appeared on Volcanoes from Speakeasy and previously found fame with Laruso.
So how has this affected Freeze the Atlantic’s sound on their latest self-titled album? Musically, the band sound more wholesome and a tad more aggressive. Andy Gilmour and Tom Stevens’ guitar tone is considerably rawer and throaty which makes for a more satisfying crunch when the two guitarists unleash their riffs. The sound they generate is considerably closer to early Hell is for Heroes or Kill Your Own-era Hundred Reasons which is pretty fitting seeing as Gilmour was in Hundred Reasons. Riffs flow thick and fast on tracks like Welcome Back to Nibelheim and Stompbox and both guitarists have to be commended for bringing the majority of the melody to the band’s music and upping their technicality in the process. This is immensely satisfying guitar music.
The most noticeable change has to come with Puente who has a very distinctive vocal style that is more powerful than Knott’s. Puente is a great rock vocalist and he’s the perfect choice in regards to the musical shift to more direct and punchy songs.
Unfortunately Puente is also the weak link on this album. Puente’s vocals never stray out of the vocalist’s comfort zone and all of Puente’s melodies sound remarkably similar. As a vocalist, Puente isn’t particularly creative and by the end of the album’s first song you’ve already heard everything the man has to offer. This is a real shame because as previously mentioned Puente’s voice is a great fit for the band’s music.
But this isn’t Puente’s biggest problem. Over the course of the album you soon begin to notice that Puente only delivers the bare minimum in his vocal duties. This is really noticeable in songs like Occams Razor and You Drove Me to Taxidermy which contain huge passages where the vocalist simply stops singing and it often comes across as laziness. Puente never sounds passionate and every time it feels like the man should let out a roar when the music steps up a notch he simply doesn’t bother. There are so many times when the music presents a massive riff for you to head-bang to and it would sound absolutely electric with a simple vocal flourish along the lines of “urgh!” or “go!”. Idiot Check has the room for a lot of these moments but they simply never happen and the music never excites in the way it should.
Freeze the Atlantic’s self-titled sophomore album is a record stuffed with exciting, energetic and riff-heavy rock music that should have been bolstered by a strong vocal performance but what you get is a very pedestrian vocal delivery that sounds phoned in. There simply isn’t a song as well structured or as catchy as something like Broken Bones off Speakeasy and that song wouldn’t be what it is without its fantastic melody and chorus. I wouldn’t be surprised if Freeze the Atlantic’s self-titled album was written without Puente’s input and the man was brought in after the music was recorded to simply add the final touch.
What makes this even more apparent is that the song This Fight has been re-recorded after previously appearing on a Rock Sound exclusive CD. The original version was a Knott-era Freeze the Atlantic song and it’s instantly apparent because the vocal melody is more dynamic and there’s hardly any moments when the music isn’t accompanied by vocals.
Freeze the Atlantic’s self-titled album is an album of missed opportunities. All the pieces were in place for an impressive follow-up to the band’s debut album what with the music being more accomplished, but it’s let down by a lacklustre vocal performance that rarely delivers a catchy melody. Puente needs to work on sounding like he cares and delivering a performance that sounds like he’s putting his all into the band’s music. If Freeze the Atlantic can return with a more fiery performance from Puente then they’ll be onto a winner.
Freeze the Atlantic’s self-titled album is out now and available to buy from Alcopop! Records.