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Dead Frog - Burning Bridges Award winner

Dead Frog
Burning Bridges
by Max Elias at 11 September 2019, 2:13 AM

DEAD FROG is a somewhat unconventional Serbian band, called by other reviewers as Progressive Metal, but in my opinion characterized just as well by the label Alternative Metal. Certainly the name implies the latter over the former. The riffs in album opener “Trying to Break Me” go from mellow to modern-sounding heavy, and alternate between clean and distorted sounds. The vocals are clean, but not soaring, more slightly nasal. The most traditional metal riff in the song is around the 4-minute mark.

“Asleep” is another mellow starter, full of soft guitar and hooky choruses. The riff after the 2-minute mark chorus is typical of something that would show up on a pop-rock or instrumental rock song, as is the bluesy lead that follows. Once the song abandons its cleans and relies on heavy riffs, it takes on a very 90s Metal vibe. The angst balladry continues with “Can’t Rely on the Truth” which bases itself in mournful arpeggiated guitar work and softly crooned vocals. Even when the instrumentation gets louder, the vocals remain at their laid-back pitch and cadence. A few leads crop up here and there, always very bluesy and melody-conscious.

Halfway through the album it becomes clear that this is a band exploring the range of emotions contained in metal. They ebb and flow, embodying more than brute aggression in their music. The dynamic range keeps their songs fresh; which is good in cases like “66th”, which is over 9 minutes long. It starts with a trancelike repetitive riff that forms the core of the song as it develops, allowing textures to build on top of it and spiral out from it. This is a very atmosphere-driven, trippy piece of music, reflected in the solo by the copious use of wah and flanger effects. “66th” seems like it was a cutoff point, with every song that follows being similarly lengthy.

Accordingly, there is lots of variety. Bluesy riffs dominate “The Secret’s Key”, and “Deeper Than I Should” is as angry-sounding as the record gets. On the latter song, the vocals are particularly noteworthy in the range they display, switching between rapid and wailing to softly whispered. The riffs are very Modern Metal, whereas “The Secret’s Key” comes off as if it could be sold just as easily as amped-up Blues Rock. The second-to-last track, “Redemption”, is the album’s primarily acoustic ballad. But it is still a DEAD FROG song, so it switches more and the parts are more unique than your typical metal ballad. But again, that’s because it really isn’t a ‘metal ballad’, since DEAD FROG occupy a weird in-between space musically, focused on expanding what heavy music can look like.

Usually when I review albums, I try to include comparisons that make it easier for readers (and myself) to understand where the band is coming from and if they should check it out. With this album, I’m out of comparisons to make, although that could easily be because Alternative/Progressive Metal are not subgenres that I am the most familiar with. Regardless, the DEAD Frog sound is hard to pin down, and if you are either not that into heavy music or appreciate the subtler range of emotion not often explored in metal, you should check out DEAD FROG.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 10
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Trying to Break Me
2. Asleep
3. Can’t Rely on the Truth
4. 66th
5. Hopeless
6. Deeper Than I Should
7. The Secret’s Key
8. Redemption
9. When Your Shadow Starts to Cry
Davor Licic - Rhythm Guitar
Nikola Pancic - Lead Guitar
Stefan Pancic - Bass
Milos Pejcic - Drums
Zarko Ristic - Vocals
Record Label: Sliptrick Records


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Edited 19 September 2021

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