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The Frozen Autumn - The Fellow Traveller (2017) - Review

Band: The Frozen Autumn
Album title: The Fellow Traveller
Release date: 3 November 2017
Label: Echozone

01. Tomorrow's Life
02. White On White (Album Version)
03. We'll Fly Away (Long Version)
04. Told You At Once
05. Your Touch (Album Version)
06. A Gentle Flame
07. Grey Metal Wings
08. Sirens And Stargazers
09. The Twin Planet
10. I Love You But I've Chosen Synthesizers
11. Loving The Alien [David Bowie cover]

The long running iconic Italian duo The Frozen Autumn is back with a new album. After the well received previous full-length named Chirality, released back in 2011, and the EP Lie In Wait from 2014, the new, their sixth album named The Fellow Traveller follows what Diego Merletto and Froxeanne already presented on previous two releases. I can easily say that this band which was founded back in 1993 is somehow stuck in time and I don't see that they have any kind of an intent to evolve further. But don't get this as bad as it might sound, The Frozen Autumn have already developed some kind of their unique sound which is a blend of gothic, darkwave, cold wave, dark-electro and synthpop, and gained quite a large group of devoted fans worldwide. The new album presents again the band's individual style which some may call "frozen wave", although it's evident that what influenced them in the early days, the most evident one is of early Clan Of Xymox, is still present.

On The Fellow Traveller these two Italians, even though they don't sound Italian at all and could be easily confused by being a British or German band, present 11 tracks of which three ("White On White", "We'll Fly Away" and "Your Touch") are reworked or better said alternated versions of tracks that were present on their previous EP, Lie In Wait. While the new album follows the established sound, it's a bit less melancholic than their previous album, it's a bit less atmospheric than their first releases, but we get a bit more sparkly, somehow more upbeat electronic danceable sound which has certain new wave smell and it feels like it was written back in the 80s. You'll get plenty of catchy synth driven hooks, nice pop melodies, rather distant and cold melancholic male and sensual female dark voices which take turns from track to track, everything backened by strong reverberate basses, sparkling electronics and a lot of gloominess.

In its basis the tracks show quite complex arrangements to offer some astounding emotive atmospheric sound, best shown in some refrains, like for example in the captivatingly haunting album version of "White On White", where Froxeanne delivers one of her best vocal performances ever. But also the long version of the groovy "We'll Fly Away", with some really nice melodic passages is top notch. While the vocals and the entire ambiance will appeal more to gothic/darkwave side of fans, the rhythm will make crazy those into dark-electro and synthwave sounds. My favorite tracks on this albums are absolutely the almost eight minutes long "Grey Metal Wings", one of the darkest, most adventurous and nicely building up tracks that The Frozen Autumn ever released, it has kind of a Diary Of Dreams vibes in it, and of course "The Twin Planet" with its rather cosmic vibe. On both tracks Diego delivers a truly great and haunting vocal performance. On the other hand, beside in before mentioned "White On White", I wasn't that much satisfied with Froxeanne's performance on other tracks, maybe it's to blame the compositions, but... I know she can do it better, she already gave some stunning dark ethereal vocal deliveries in the past.

It won't be a surprise if some of the tracks would become a regular spins in some clubs with dark music, almost every single one has the right dose of catchy danceable rhythms, a nice symbiosis of coldness and warmth, and yet everything is filled with quite dense instrumentation. I miss here a bit a certain ethereal ambiance which was close to Dead Can Dance and present on their first couple of albums, but ok, The Frozen Autumn made it clear in which direction they are moving before this album. In the end The Frozen Autumn offer a cover version of David Bowie's classic from the 80s, "Loving The Alien". Certainly a bold move, but they are walking a thin line here by delivering this rather mellow melancholic too much one-dimensional version of this anthemic piece. While it got a completely new vibrance it has lost that special shine, a powerful emotional vibe and dynamic energy which was present in the original one.

No matter what, The Fellow Traveller, is a very pleasant listening experience, it will most certainly give shivers down the spine to those who already liked their previous works, but I'm not so sure if this album will bring any new ones. It's a good one, but not that spectacular. It's an album that because of its very sophisticated song structures needs more than one listen to be fully embraced, but once it gets under your skin, its more or less intense and charismatic vocal performances mixed with catchy arrangements, will more likely make you fall in love with the synthesizers.

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 7/10