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Frost* - Milliontown CD (album) cover





3.83 | 447 ratings

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4 stars Frost has been a very important band for me, because it was one of the first few bands I discovered once I was baptized in the world of modern prog thanks to Dream Theater's "Octivarium". This album, along with Mars Volta's "De-Loused in the Comatorium" I considered to be original holy trinity, three albums that not only didn't sound like pop or classic rock or anything you'd hear on the radio, but three albums that didn't even sound like each other, in any aspect.

Even now, Frost* (apparently that asterisk is part of the name) is one of the freshest outfits out there and one of the next big things in the ever influential world of British rock and progressive music. Even their debut here "Milliontown" sounds fresh and new even 15 years after its release. One of my biggest plus points is prog bands that manage to stay the course while incorporating a catchy pop aesthetic to draw any listener in and keep them coming back again and again, and this has been one of Frost's biggest accomplishments. Composer and bandleader Jem Godfrey does a good job incorporating instrumental sections and riffs with significant lyrics and catchy choruses.

The album begins with a lovely piano-led instrumental "Hyperventilate" followed by the gripping and driving "No Me No You". The machine gun verse that bookends the song are almost hypnotic as they lead into the big bombastic chorus before the piano fades out. I understand why Godfrey refers to himself as a composer, these songs to seem to be classically structured, yet there's also a good attention to detail in songwriting, lyricism and attractiveness to casual listeners.

"Snowman" is a classic example. It's a soft and beautiful ballad that find a perfect home as a backing track to an emotional scene in a drama or action movie. The depth of the electronics, the softness of the guitars and keys and the soothing presence of the backing vocals on the back end of the track just send chills up my spine every time. It's as almost if someone asked Mason Bates to write a pop song arrangement of a Depeche Mode song but in the style of an old school music box. One of my absolute favorites.

From the sublime to the hardcore comes "The Other Me", which sounds like the beginning of an older Fast and Furious movie. This song has a hard rock, "punch you in the face" kind of mentality, unique from the rest of the songs on the album, and yet there are softer interludes and Nine Inch Nails-esque electronic freakouts that pepper the song with depth and life before the bombastic chorus fills the room before it all fades out to the buzzing of bugs in your ears. Even a simple catchy 5 minute song like this has enough depth to be more interesting than some bands whole albums.

But then, Godfrey decides to go big or go home by ending the album with two epics. The first of which, "Black Light Machine", immediately catches the ear with a nice happy and perky synth line with a happy chorus to boot. After a few minutes it fades out to bring in a nice David Gilmour-esque solo spot by the guitars before that fades into another atmospheric verse before the band kicks it into overdrive and finished on a technical high note.

"Milliontown" is the big epic. It has everything, soft atmospheric interludes, catchy choruses, fast technical sections, big bombastic finishes and intelligent songwriting and lyricisim. It may not be as memorable as, say "Octivarium", but it's still an impressive piece of music to digest if you have the time to sit down and listen to all 26-and-a-half minutes of it, but if you don't, that's fine, because even though I'm a sucker for long songs, Frost's biggest weapon is it's shorter, catchier (and still proggy) songs which are much harder to pull off.

It's not the best album I've ever heard, the epics (especially" Milliontown") can be a bit convoluted at times, but the rest of the album is superb. It's a different take than Porcupine Tree did when the emerged from the 80's New Wave craze as a psychedellic Pink Floyd-ian Beatles-esque band in the early 90's before evolving into a streamlined, heavier, grungier form (a la Tool) but still focused on songwriting and lyrics. It's a modern take on popular music and progressive rock, as well as a sign of the times. Jem Grodfrey has established himself as a brilliant songwriter, musician and composer with this album and each album this band puts out is always on my radar.

Wicket | 4/5 |


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