First Signs of Frost – ‘The Shape of Things to Come’

By Mark Johnson

Having been dormant for seven years, First Signs of Frost re-emerge with their first new material since 2009’s ‘Atlantis’, as well as three new band members and a change in sound. In their previous incarnation, the band’s frontman was Dan Tompkins, now of Tesseract, and in the years between they’ve not only found a replacement for him, they’ve also managed to emulate him. New vocalist Daniel Lawrence shares more than just a forename with his predecessor; his tone and melody writing are hauntingly similar, characterised by sprawling, meandering vocal parts that showcase an impressive technical ability but do little to elevate songs or plant memorable parts in your head. The vocals follow a similar pattern throughout the EP, making them predictable and uninspiring, despite being pleasant to listen to.

The vocals aren’t the only aspect that follow Tompkins’ path, the band’s style moving to a more Tesseract-like brand of tech-metal, rather than the post-hardcore of their previous record. The instrumentals are interesting and intricate, showcasing an impressive amount of technical ability but with a lack of dynamics to help inject variation or pace, each track feels locked into one central, pedestrian groove. ‘Meat Week’ and ‘White Flag’ have rhythmic patterns that are interesting to listen to at first, but as these rhythms continue along the same idea at the same tempo, by the time you reach closer ‘SHARKS’ you already have a good sense of how the track will sound and how it will play out.

‘Look Alive Sunshine’ is the stand-out track of the EP and provides hope that the band are on the right track. Lawrence’s vocals have more urgency thanks to a broader range of pitch, including a raspier edge to his voice which suits the instrumentation well.

After an absence of seven years, First Signs of Frost have shown enough promise with ‘The Shape of Things to Come’ to prove that this reformation is not in vain. The tech-metal style suits them and with highly competent musicians and a vocalist with excellent tone, they have the tools at their disposal to create interesting results. If they can infuse more dynamics into their sound and add something memorable or unpredictable into their songwriting, their next release could be something worth shouting about.

MARK JOHNSON

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