I had never heard of German melodic death metal act Thulcandra until the release of “Under A Frozen Sun”, their follow up to 2010’s debut “Fallen Angel’s Dominion”. Doing some research, the one thing that stood out was a bevy of comparisons of this 2003-formed group to old school Swedish legends Dissection. With only that to go on, I was pleasantly surprised when “Under A Frozen Sun” permanently established itself in my music library as a black metal standby with tons of potential.
The opener, “In Blood and Fire,” is not a bad start. Although obviously drawing from the National Dissection Bank of Riffs, Thulcandra manage to be thrifty with guitarist Steffen Kummerer’s powerful and subtly melodic riffing. However, about six minutes in, you get the feeling that this track would be more at home at slots seven or eight. To me, this track is almost too epic to be an opener, which is definitely not a bad thing. The Mörk Gryning effect is set on high. I could have sworn I heard literal echoes of Tusen. Also not a bad thing. Next is “Black Flags of Hate,” a pummelling showcase of anthemic black metal; with breakneck drumming with a chorus so chantable, I’d rate it attemptable at ten beers.
Worth mentioning is title track “Under A Frozen Sun,” which slows things down for five minutes. When a song literally communicates its title to the listener, you know the band is doing something right. Thulcandra nailed this one. “Echoing Voice (A Cold Breeze of Death)” hits you with less than a minute of Insomnium-ism toward the end of the track without being a massive fail. Awesome! “Gates of Eden” offers up nine minutes of non-repetitive icy old school black metal without noticeably ripping off anyone at all.
Now for the closer, an Unaminated cover. “Life Demise” immediately kicks into gear, giving your ears the metal equivalent of your mom’s grilled cheese and a comforting bowl of tomato soup. Old school structure: verse, chorus, verse, chorus, guitar solo, etc. Whatever, it’s a fucking good song. This is my favorite track by far (I know it’s a cover, but I’m allowed), with a stirring chorus (the closest black metal will ever come to gang vocals, I take what I can get). Possibly better than the original.
“Under A Frozen Sun” implies bleak darkness and possible death by hypothermia. However, although extremely dark, Thulcandra somehow manage to embody a sunless desert of ice (see what I did there) without being utterly devoid of emotion or possibility. It’s exploratory, it’s Dissection worship, it has enough double bass to satisfy even me, and it’s deviously melodic. This is a great sophomore album, and a great black metal album if you know what you’re in for (Dissection). I personally am looking forward to what this band does next. Thulcandra, put down “The Somberlain” and do your thing.