Compared to the shafting that a lot of modern, British melodic rock bands find themselves on the receiving end of, the original crop doing a similar thing in the early 2000s are almost always held in much higher esteem. That’s largely because, without them, there would hardly be a UK rock scene at all, and, as what tends to happen when a genre finds itself accumulating hangers-on, its influence has been diluted further and further down the line. As such, Freeze The Atlantic stand essentially on their own in that regard, not only comprised of members of vaunted scene stalwarts Reuben and Hundred Reasons, but retaining the grittier post-hardcore of their previous bands. And considering how these sorts of collaborative projects usually go (see the sputtering popularity and presence of The Hell), Freeze The Atlantic have remained strong all the way through with their two genuinely strong albums Speakeasy and Freeze The Atlantic.
On the other side of the coin though, Freeze The Atlantic have never been able to break away from being a cult act, and third full-length The People Are Revolting may provide something of an explanation why. It’s not that this is a bad album, but it’s riddled with too many inconsistencies to be held in the same regard as Freeze The Atlantic’s previous releases. It’s largely a case of the production, which can’t decide whether it wants to be the slick, preened alt-rock favoured today (albeit not quite as safe and tidy), or their usual, grittier fare. It’s an issue right from the off, too, with intro track El Nitro, taking the former path with its clean guitar lines and dainty piano. When Freeze The Atlantic do go for this cleaner style, it isn’t bad, but looking at them next to the gnarled baseline of Captain Buzzkill or the rough, growling guitars of Gunnar Hansen, it would be a lie to say that the rift in quality isn’t noticeable. Too often it feels like neither the band or the production compliment on another; Liv Puente’s rougher, untamed vocals struggle to work on tracks like the jumpy Magnetoscope, while on the title track, the lack of suitable body to the instrumentation makes them feel unfortunately thin. At times on tracks like Crackerjack, it can be reminiscent of Fightstar at their most melodic, but whereas that band’s smoother output is augmented by strings to really get that feeling of scope, Freeze The Atlantic’s lack of anything of the sort leaves them a couple of steps behind.
Factor in the lyrical content that has a heavy focus on social commentary surrounding the state of the world today, and the decision to take this album in a cleaner direction feels even more mismanaged, if only because Freeze The Atlantic can actually meld these sorts of thoughts well with the hooks and melodies one would come to expect. The heavier Captain Buzzkill manages to pick up its necessary effectiveness, rallying against those who see themselves as “victims” due to an increased foreign population in a way that feels laced with genuine anger, but with the Mallory Knox-esque Altogether Not Together, a track tackling the xenophobic attitudes of older generations that have risen in prevalence and normality, there’s a placidity that feels counterproductive to the intention.
Fortunately for Freeze The Atlantic, their hook-writing ability does manage to make up for a fair bit. Regardless of production style, this is an album with populism in mind, and that’s something the Freeze The Atlantic have in spades. The likes of Annotate My Fate and The Floor Is Made Of Lava give Puente the chance to let his bellow loose, and there’s enough to Andy Gilmour and Tom Stevens’ riff-writing to keep them within the realms of accessibility without sinking into Britrock’s oft-abused cycle of repetition. Even when drawing on their former bands for inspiration (Altogether Not Together especially has more than a whiff of Hundred Reasons to it), it’s a spot that isn’t greatly populated in the modern alt-rock market, and Freeze The Atlantic do a fine job at filling the gap.
Because at the end of the day, while The People Are Revolting may be Freeze The Atlantic’s weakest album to date, it has enough moments worth investigating all the same. Look past its production that could be improved on numerous occasions, and this is a decent enough throwback to early 2000s post-hardcore with an appreciated lack of frills or flash. It’s just a shame they couldn’t have kept the grit or heft of that time period as well; then Freeze The Atlantic would’ve been able to keep their record of high quality firmly intact.
For fans of: Fightstar, Hundred Reasons, Lower Than Atlantis
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘The People Are Revolting’ by Freeze The Atlantic is released on 14th April on Alcopop! Records.