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Frost* - Milliontown CD (album) cover

MILLIONTOWN

Frost*

 

Neo-Prog

3.79 | 386 ratings

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FragileKings
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Another album I became aware of from PA's top fifty popular artists in the last 24 hours, the reviews of this album indicated that this was an album to be excited about. In particular, the quote in the artist profile from Jem Godfrey about most prog bands acting like the last 30 years in music didn't happen had me wondering how this progressive rock artist would approach making a prog album.

Making a blind purchase, I had it in my ear buds the day after I got it and listened. The opening instrumental really made a deep impression. Opening with what sounds like a wooden flute, the song instantly reminded me of a predawn mountain lake with the first light in the sky over silhouetted mountains. A delicate tinkling piano melody suggests that sunrise is drawing near and then as the sun comes up the bass and treble notes create a beautiful melody. As the music builds, light percussion joins and then suddenly the music erupts in a full scale melodic, almost metal sound full of richness. This is just the beginning. As the music develops, there is more piano, some explosive synthesizer solos, searing guitar solos that remind me of Steve Vai, voluminous rock in the vein of Steve Morse, and some marvelous neo-prog rock sounds. By the time the track wraps up, I am eager to hear what will come next, my ears practically smoking.

However, the next three tracks are a let down. "No Me No You" starts out promising enough with some manipulation of speaking voices that might have come from a Butthole Surfers album. Then heavy chugging guitar and the song that sounds very mainstream. The chorus contrasts the edge of the verses by being more melodic. The vocals have the slightly raw sound that many mainstream, popular rock bands have these days, the kind that sometimes sound like there is far too much breath coming out for the words sung. It's okay but reminds me too much of what I could expect to hear on Vancouver's rock radio station if I were back home. The middle part gets interesting but it's an insert in a heavy pop song.

"Snowman" just goes right by me. Each time I listen to it I lose concentration and think of other things. It has a kind of synthesized pan flute sound (two notes only) that sounds like a flute was recorded at the highest volume possible and then sampled. Thankfully, this is the shortest song on the album.

"The Other Me" is also a mainstream heavy rock song and unless I actually play it I can't recall how it goes either. But things really start looking up by "Black Light Machine". Where the first track, "Hyperventilate" gave us such rich music, "Black Light Machine" now does so with a song, too. At just over ten minutes, there's room to let the music move through different phases and show off once more the band's ability to shift effortlessly from light piano passages to thundering heavy rock to synthesizer-driven neo-prog. After listening to this again this morning, I was inspired to put this song on a playlist to burn to CD for long drives.

The last track is an epic over 26 minutes long. "Milliontown" doesn't introduce anything we don't already know. In a way, it's like the best parts of the album condensed into one composition, the Coles Notes version of the album, sort of. We have more of the heavy pop music, the wonderful synthesizer solos, the Steve Vai guitar, the prog metal pounding, and everything else except for the flutes, real or sampled. My problem with this song is that it seems to just keep going on and on. It's like ten songs chopped and stitched together and reminds me of how Transatlantic's long songs sometimes feel. While it's nice to hear such creativity, I feel like they just looked for any cool studio jam part to fit in. There's even a short passage of maybe sixteen bars that sounds like classic Genesis.

Without looking at the time counter you'll be kept wondering when the song will wrap up. There's a big anthemic keyboard melody that sounds like a great finale, but the song keeps going. There are some great guitar and synthesizer solos, and the song continues. The melody introduced at the beginning reprises, and the song continues. Even when the last big wallop seems to herald the close of the song, it is followed by a return of the piano and another minute of playing until the last note is sustained for yet another 17 seconds before the track finally and truly comes to its temporal conclusion. There's some excellent music but as the band dispenses with the usual practice of dividing epic songs into parts at least in title, it's a bit puzzling why so many musical themes were necessary.

The only other slight complaint about the album is that it is produced really loud. Except for the pretty piano parts, the volume of everything is loud like a bombardment of music. On the one hand it makes the album seem full and rich. On the other hand, it makes any kind of subtlety nearly impossible. That beautiful opening with flute and piano is a wonder.

"Hyperventilate" continues to be a joy to listen to and now I have come to appreciate "Black Light Machine". But the rest of the album doesn't exactly beg for repeat plays unless I want to undertake the task of inundating my brain with the extensive "Milliontown".

FragileKings | 3/5 |

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