"Dad was the guy that would get us Christmas presents and then steal them back to pawn them." Tragedy hasn't stopped Texans Frozen Soul from finding warmth in old school death metal

Frozen Soul London 2024
(Image credit: Kevin Nixon)

It’s not every day you see a death metal bassist slide past you on ice skates, holding onto a three-foot-tall plastic penguin for dear life – but Frozen Soul are a band obsessed with ice. 

Since they formed six years ago, the five-piece from Dallas, Fort Worth have released two albums: Crypt Of Ice (2021) and Glacial Domination (2023). Their artwork depicts dead bodies and/or blood frozen amid wintry tundras, and they even wield a smoke machine at their shows to spray their audiences with ‘snow’. 

However, as Hammer are finding out today, this lot are also fucking terrified of ice. Given Frozen Soul’s frosty imagery, we thought it’d be fun to take them skating at Ice Rink Canary Wharf in London, ahead of the gig they’re playing at the Underworld tonight as part of their European tour. 

However, of the four of them (guitarist Michael Munday isn’t here today – he’s skipping the dates due to a house move), it’s only bass player Samantha Mobley who straps on her skates. “We’ve got three more weeks of touring,” vocalist Chad Green reasons, watching from the barrier. He, guitarist Chris Bonner and drummer Matt Dennard haven’t skated since childhood, and the last thing they want are back injuries, especially given they already spend a lot of time squashed into tour bus bunks. 

It turns out we were overly optimistic about our own skating abilities and should have sat this one out, too. By the time Hammer actually gets two skates onto the ice, we’re waddling off again so the band can do a photoshoot. 

Chad, Chris and Matt sensibly wear crampons on their shoes, to minimise the risk of going arse over tit. Why didn’t we think of that? Even with other skaters flying past, paying no notice – spinning, gliding backwards and even jumping – we tell ourselves it’s OK, as we haven’t skated in 17 years. It’s a moment of self-assurance that gets flung out the window the second Samantha swings by and tells us that she hasn’t done this in 27 years. 

Even clinging to the penguin-shaped skating aid as she moves around the rink, she’s putting the rest of us to shame. After the photoshoot, everybody’s hurried off the rink, a Zamboni primed to resurface the ice and ready it for the next, far more talented, batch of skaters. As the five of us cram into a black cab bound for the Underworld, we feel the need to ask: why the hell are they so fixated on ice?

Although they skated intermittently as kids, it’s clearly not a pastime that’s endured into adult life. Plus, let’s be honest, their home state of Texas isn’t exactly known for being a winter wonderland. “Honestly, the ice thing came as a way to lean into the name of the band,” Chad shrugs, once we’re settled on Frozen Soul’s tour bus in Camden. “When we finally figured the name out, we asked, ‘How do you keep going with it?’ I’ve always been a fan of bands like Kiss and Slipknot, because I appreciate the show.” 

Frozen Soul’s name appears as a lyric in Metallica’s Ride The Lightning track, Trapped Under Ice (‘Frozen soul, frozen down to the core!’), but Chad also traces the moniker back to a time he, Samantha and Michael were listening to obscure extreme metal demos on YouTube together. One of them, by Swedish thrash band Mezzrow, was titled Frozen Soul

Chad’s relationship with rock’n’roll dates back many years. Before he was born and during his early childhood, his grandparents ran Fort Worth rock bar Savvy’s, which was frequented by the likes of Pantera. “I’ve been told I tried to play Vinnie Paul’s drum set and got yelled at when I was super-, super-tiny,” the vocalist remembers. 

It was there that his parents met, his mum working as a waitress and his dad doing security. Although Chad grew up in a supportive household with his mum, grandparents and two younger brothers (Josh and Cory), he acknowledges parts of it were difficult. His dad, he says, was a heroin addict who’s spent 30 years in prison. 

“He’s out of prison now, but he’s not in my life,” Chad explains. “He was the guy that would get us Christmas presents and then would sneak in and steal them back to pawn them afterwards. I ignore his calls every other day.” 

Later, Chad’s mum passed away after developing diabetes from medication she was taking, and, during the writing of Glacial Domination, Cory died of a drug overdose. The vocalist explains that hardships like these, endured by both him and those close to him, have also shaped Frozen Soul’s iconography. 

“Life is cold, man,” he says. “Sometimes you gotta be cold too. But sometimes it’s about being warm, to people who need it, to friends and family. Our music is about all of that stuff. It’s easier to go in and out of it in a funny sense than in a serious sense.”

Chad has always found solace in escapism, fantasy and the theatrical. Not only does he adore the larger-than-life performances of Kiss and Slipknot, as a kid, he was a big gamer and played with Yu-Gi-Oh! cards. Then, as a grown-up, he got into fantasy card game Magic: The Gathering. The singer and Michael, his future guitarist, bonded over a shared appreciation of Magic and metal, then became colleagues in a Magic shop and, eventually, co-founded Frozen Soul. 

Chad says they didn’t intentionally take inspiration from the immersive worlds of videogames and Magic, but it’s hard not to draw parallels. “I wouldn’t say there is a deliberate connection, but there’s always a connection between what we do in this band and the things we love,” he smiles. “We’re all huge into videogames! This, for us, is a journey just like in any game. We are on a campaign!” 

Michael introduced Chad to brutal death metal bands such as Suffocation, while the singer opened his bandmate up to more old-school, bouncy death metal, such as Obituary and Bolt Thrower, as well as hardcore. All three play their part in Frozen Soul’s music, which frequently decelerates from blistering speed to hammering, vintage grooves. It’s a mixture that piqued the interest of Trivium leader Matt Heafy, who ended up producing Glacial Domination

“I guess his manager mentioned to ours that he was a big fan of what we were doing and enjoyed our band,” Chad says of the hook-up. “Matt’s taught me a lot about warming up, and I think what we gained the most from him was patience. He had this opinion of, like, ‘You guys do what you want to do. As long as you’re doing what you want and you love it, others will love it.’” 

He was correct. Glacial Domination dropped last May, and Frozen Soul are now on their first European headlining tour. A run of shows supporting melodeath giants Amon Amarth across the States, alongside Cannibal Corpse and Obituary, will follow in April. The “campaign”, as Chad described it, is going excellently. 

“Part of the reason that Frozen Soul are successful is that our theme transcends a lot of things and a lot of situations,” he says. “It’s rare in life that something like that happens, and it fucking worked out for this band!” 

When we see them onstage later that night, it certainly looks that way. Between songs, the frontman makes speeches championing mental health, thanks the crowd for “taking care” of them, and pays tribute to Cory, adding an emotional weight to the savage riffing. The Underworld is heaving and, at Chad’s command, the audience opens a circle-pit around a column at the heart of the venue. Life is indeed cold but, thanks to Frozen Soul, London is feeling the warmth.

Glacial Domination is out now via Century Media. 

Matt Mills
Contributing Editor, Metal Hammer

Louder’s resident Gojira obsessive was still at uni when he joined the team in 2017. Since then, Matt’s become a regular in Prog and Metal Hammer, at his happiest when interviewing the most forward-thinking artists heavy music can muster. He’s got bylines in The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Guitar and many others, too. When he’s not writing, you’ll probably find him skydiving, scuba diving or coasteering.