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Force Majeure: Frozen Chambers

Power metal band Force Majeure hails from Finland; their name, translated literally from the French, means 'greater force.' Certainly, this reveals mora than a little self-confidence in their music and pursuits. But can Force Majeure be 'greater force' in the already swamped field of power metal not only within their region but also the whole European theatre? The answer lies within the music on their latest release 'Frozen Chambers.'

To their credit, one significant attribute of 'Frozen Chambers' is that this is a complete effort by whole band. Even though we expect the lead vocalist and lead guitar(s) to rule most days on any given metal album, Force Majeure appears willing to draw upon and push forward everyone's strengths and talents. If anything rises above the others it can be either the vocals, the rhythm section, or the keyboards. But none of these at anytime overwhelm the others. Another positive attribute is the fact that the production is quite smooth, the mix clear. As you move into the music, you will find Force Majeure travels the well tread trail of melodic power metal with bits of traditional heavy and progressive metal. There's nothing new in this pursuit; so what about the songs?

'Frozen Chambers' begins and ends with traditional power metal in 'Gatecrusher' and 'Dead Times Awaken.' Both songs are heavy and aggressive with raw vocals. The former seems to favor the rhythm section and has good, but minimalist, fret work. In the latter, the guitars come through well, but the arrangement seems confused. In between these two songs you will find more power metal. The good news is that there is some really interesting music here; the bad news is that you often get more of the same, but it is hardly unbearable. Here's some of the good stuff: 'Wings Of The Fallen' has more predominant keyboard work, a great melody and fabulous vocals. Putting the harsh vocals aside, Ricky sounds like a metal version of Geddy Lee. Another notable track is 'I Hear Voices,' which starts well with a short but terrific bass and drum intro. Then, just when you think you're moving into more monotonous power metal, about two and a half minutes into the song, things become interesting and intriguing. 'Winter's Tale,' essentially a power metal ballad, shines because of the vocals and the keyboard work, particularly the solo and the outro. 'Endure The Cold' is a better power metal number simply because of the melodic arrangement and surprising vocal arrangement. Here, Ricky sounds more like a raw Tobias Sammet. As for the songs I did not mention, they were either ordinary or uninspiring to these ears. However, there are always exceptions. At first, 'Dr. Daydreamer' put me off completely. Yet after several listens, the song grew on me sounding like an enthusiastic, but heavier Edguy.

Overall, Force Majeure's 'Frozen Chambers' is a fine first effort filled with moments of grandeur and innovation. Other times, it's basically routine. Will they be a 'greater force' in their genre? Possibly. Force Majeure has the skills and talent to rise above their peers especially if they keep writing songs like 'Wings Of The Fallen' or 'Endure The Cold.' So I encourage you to check them out. You may be surprised.
  - Craig Hartranft

In Short

Finland's Force Majeure hopes to be a 'greater force' in the melodic power metal field. 'Frozen Chambers' is a good first step in that pursuit. The band shines as a unit, the production is strong, and the songs, at times, are quite inspiring.

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