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Frost* - Milliontown CD (album) cover





3.83 | 447 ratings

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Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 2006 is a year of exciting releases and new discoveries for me. First there was Kayo Dot's Dowsing Anemone with Coppertongue, which was a phenomenal experience. Next there was The Flower King's Paradox Hotel, which was another very strong release. Then there was Adrian Belew's Side Three, which for me is the best album of the year thus far. And now I stumble on to Frost, a very fine neo progressive rock band that just released their debut album called Milliontown. Keyboardist/vocalist Jem Godfrey assembled this band because of his love of progressive rock, and he couldn't have chosen a finer cast of musicians. Andy Edwards and John Jowitt of IQ take up the rhythm unit, and from the get go you can hear their cohesiveness, and John Mitchell of Arena takes up the guitar aspect of the group, offering a lush and heavy performance overall. This is what modern music is supposed to be like, and I'm very impressed with their first outing.

Hyperventilate is the opening song, an instrumental that opens quietly with an interesting piano motif but soon turns into an all out rocker with a soaring synth line and an epic chord progression that reminds me a bit of Slainte Mhath off of Marillion's Clutching at Straws. Ascending runs here and there give a Dream Theater feel to the piece, and the evolution and musicianship of the song itself is rather stunning. A very impressive opener with great interplay between Mitchell and Godfrey. No Me No You, Snowman, and The Other Me are the more mainstream based pieces on this album that are bookended by the truly progressive ones. No Me No You begins with droning voices and droning guitar notes that outline the basic root structure. It's a rather simple song overall, but the group provide some interesting music and Godfrey's vocals, while not brilliant, more than suffice for the music and add another dimension to it. Some bombastic keyboards that remind me a bit of Spock's Beards intro to Go the Way You Go make up the middle section, and the flurry of instrumentation is rather well executed.

Snowman is a flurry of anxious synthesizers and melodic piano lines intertwining into an uneasy atmosphere. Slowly but surely the other instruments add layer by layer more to the background during the vocal sections, which are very nice. The Other Me begins with some sawing guitar (in the vein of Robert Fripp's during the intro of Larks Tongue in Aspic part I) and some interesting drumming by Edwards. The vocal effects and the main theme is also interesting, with soaring synthesizers and crushing guitars. Black Light Machine begins with a dancing guitar rhythm that invokes memories of those classic Steve Rothery riffs. Throughout the 10 minutes of music, there is a lot of evolution and the group really gets into a groove. Mitchell's solo towards the middle shows makes good use of the frets and shows the listener his skills on guitar. A refreshing and ethereal middle section helps elaborate more on the lush vocals before breaking out into a heavy middle section with flourishes of lush synthesizers and strong rhythmic approaches from Jowitt and Edwards. Here Godfrey gives a melodic synthesizer solo that makes good use of the keys while playing a Dream Theater-esque breakdown section. The first epic is a fantastic one, but does the true epic of the album beat it?

In my opinion, yes, the finale to the album, the 27 minute epic called Milliontown, is the showpiece of the album and the strongest work overall. It opens with a pretty piano motif and some underlying guitar riffing. The main theme of the album comes in around the third minute, and add some tricky riffing that continue and some great interplay between the synthesizers and the guitars, who take turns with the leads. An interesting 7/4 section comes up around the seventh minute with some refreshing vocals (very lush and harmonized) from Godfrey and Mitchell. The instrumental sections that take place between the fifteenth and twenty fifth minute are spectacular displays of guitar prowess and high energy riffing/interplay between the rhythm unit, with soaring guitar leads and melodic synthesizer and piano interludes. The song ends gently, with a quiet piano motif that ends similarly to the intro, giving to piece a continuous feel to. It's one of the best epics I've heard this decade, very creative.

In the end, Milliontown is a great debut from this upcoming neo prog force. That said, the middle pieces aren't very strong, but they are good for what they are. The rest of the album though (which makes up for half of it), is brilliant stuff that any fan of IQ, Arena, or maybe even Dream Theater would enjoy. I can't wait for the next release from this group, as they seem to have a long, fruitful, and very high energy career ahead of them. 4.5/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 4/5 |


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