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DAY AND AGE

Frost*

Neo-Prog


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3 stars Got to say I don't like Jem's production style - dense, crispy, harsh, static sound. John's mix of last years Lonely Robot release was excellent. It's too bad he didn't mix this. So what is different about Frost* this time? Well, they have three drummers, not all playing at the same time but on different songs. John sings lead vocal a lot more, and the solos that gave me goosebumps on previous releases are completely absent. There are some new musical ideas that they experiment with, so kudos for not repeating themselves. No idea who wrote the songs, as the liner notes don't say, but guessing this is a collaborative effort between Jem and John. 

Highlights include the title track which is also the longest. It is engaging, has several unique musical passages, and unfortunately fades out too fast. Fierce drum break in the middle of the song. Would have been the perfect spot for those searing solos.  "Kill the Orchestra" is another cool tune that starts slow and is transformed into the magic that only Frost* can pull off. Listen closely and you can hear a riff from "Milliontown" starting at 1:55.

Overall, this release will take time to digest because it is so dense, but the first few listens for me, less the mentioned highlights, has been just... meh. However, I can only imagine how it would sound with a cleaner mix and solos.

Report this review (#2542859)
Posted Saturday, May 15, 2021 | Review Permalink
4 stars Lyrically, the glass was half full on Frost's last album, Falling Satellites. Day and Age finds a glacier at the bottom of a drained life.

Day and Age (11:36) (10/10) - "We're living in a dying age, when the writing is on the wall" sums up planet wide pessimism. The music is compact, invoking The Police and Peter Gabriel. This is the album Peter Gabriel should have made a decade ago.

Terrestrial (5:13) (8.5) - No longer blinded by the dark side of the moon, we see the grim reality. The Englishman no longer is warmed by the fire. " Staring back at me, Quiet desperation, this time frozen" The frog isn't boiling. The frog is freezing to death, and he knows it. " I can see further"

Waiting for the Lie (4:31) 8/10- Echoes of Pineapple Thief and Porcupine Tree. "Methods of self preservation, To escape when it all gets too much, These are the games we play, while we're waiting for the lie" You and I, we wait for the evening news to report the next lie. And one by one we resist or we pretend to not notice. We go along. "Whenever the government speaks, we're all waiting for the lie"

The Boy Who Stood Still (7:33) (9.0)- The three drummers playing separately on separate songs are outstanding. Definitely, the drums rage through out the album. Parable begins with spoken word. "The boy became estranged from the people and the world he grew up knowing, He devoted his time to observation and deeper thinking. In the long shadows of the day, he would stand. Day after day...But that was then." The everyman, the everyboy. Godfrey, you and I. We worship and incorporate values, our inner children never wanted. " Hail self, Hail rage, Hail fear, Hail blame, Hail lies, all rise..." On our way to the Abattoir.

Island Life (4:14) (8/10)- Compact album, the instrumentation is dense. No time for extended solos or individuality. Herein lies the genius of Day and Age. It's a giant onomatopoeia. Group over individual. Everything hurtling toward a dense dystopia. "Government 101, Keeping people happy in apocalyptical ways, Enjoy your holidays, we're all [email protected]#ked anyway" "Your country loves you nonetheless, just don't get in the way." Reminds me of Police ...catchy!

Skywards (4:15) (9/10) - Innocence fading in ancient Polaroids. " The boy consigned to Black and White and memory can't repair, In everything you see him, the faces on the wall, Your weeds are growing faster now, suffocating all" Pat Mastelotto's enormous drums rocket skyward. "The cracks in your story will leave you numb, When running in circles we come undone"

Kill the Orchestra (9:27) (9/10)- "The boy I was has gone, They blew his happy brains out, They ground him down, I never thought that I would end here" Society obliterates the inner-boy. Despondency reigns. Nobody cares. "Kill the Orchestra, we're dying anyway" At least it's not my turn to get crushed, it's yours. "And I'll be singing when they string you up, Yes, I'll be singing when they string you up" Divide and conquer. Turn on each other. "What have we done?"

Repeat to Fade (6:15) (10/10)- "Exercise your right at any time, There's no dignity in slow decline, Treadmill institution bleeds you dry, open up the window, take a dive" Boomer remover. Pat Mastelotto's percussion break your bones. "There's only one way out, repeat to fade, There's no rewinding life, repeat to fade...A perfect model life in loyalty, Subservient in essence, never free" One for all...all for all.

Minor masterpiece. Utterly no waste. Dystopian lyrics, memorable melodies, dense instrumentation, and the frosty production...all of it focused. Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection.

Report this review (#2542882)
Posted Saturday, May 15, 2021 | Review Permalink
5 stars FROST * was formed in 2004 and released a musical UFO in 2006 when I discovered them. Modern prog rock with such sizes; reminiscences of ARENA, KINO and a bit of IQ, a bit of high; an innovative sound flirting with electronic then more synthetic limit Devin TOWNSEND; 3 drummers from CHAKA KHAN, THE DARKNESS and Martin BARRE and KING CRIMSON to give a singular style to this album composed in an improvised studio far from everything except nature and a nuclear power station. A cover worthy of an ALAN PARSONS and PINK FLOYD, a sound worthy of a modern, melodic and progressive GENESIS.

"Day and Age" for the big title, rhythmic prog intro to leave then sound to THE POLICE, syncopated drums by Kaz, typical voice of John, bewitching chorus, dancing, pop, on PORCUPINE TREE; atmosphere that flows with this scratched guitar riff, the icy, punchy, metallic crescendo, the cold, austere keyboards, a little on the OSI; the girl's voice in the intro ends up with a more sinister tune and a crunchy riff that hits the adventurous WILSON; the nervous breaks make you forget that time passes, the crescendo is effective, enjoyable. Synthetic "Terrestrial", voice of the archangel then very sharp which stretches, fast tune with different layers of synths, a drums which imposes some, a catching riff, the pop-rock-prog rhythm heavier, complex, syncopated, on POLICE and Joe JACKSON, proggy, inventive. "Waiting for the Lie" opens with a dark piano and the almost whispered voice; staccato strings, a bass drum, hypnotic muted bass, dreamlike keyboards reminiscent of ULTRAVOX or FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD; progressive variation on the voice of Ted LEONARD at once with ENCHANT or MUSE for the minimalist symphonic crescendo, Jem's sublime ballad; Are you asleep ?, the prog side returns with the girl waking you up for real. "The Boy Who Stood Still" and a slap: a pile of notes, genres, instruments starting from electronic synth-rock; a phrased voice of Jason from 'Star Trek', forward bass, FRIPP guitar torture; more metronomic break still eyeing pop, the new wave of DEPECHE MODE, SIMPLE MINDS, BOWIE or ENO ah that I love that, simple but worked, syncopated and dynamited, prog latency on mysterious synths and lamenting choirs, l electronic makes you forget the rest by the heavy range filled with madness; album title.

"Island Life" follows with 20 'of pure English beauty with its waves then a pop radio edit tune away from the sound of FROST *, a cascade of fresh and fast 80's sound with just the right amount of syncopated notes; I hear GABRIEL in its solo part, GENESIS last commercial release with a BANKS uh a thunderous Jem swinging a devilishly heady and singular pop tune, so as not to reflect on our current condition of life. "Skywards" à la LEVIN, also from JAPAN, second title which does not look very much but which shows the inventiveness of the word prog in a few notes; Pat's percussion that makes you say ... it's prog; it's fresh, easy to get into your head; it's melodic, light and not that simple as it sounds with KYROS as a reference. The dark choppy sounds launch into wandering listening, a synth solo soothes this introspection. "Kill the Orchestra" piano for the second longest piece, THE BEATLES, GABRIEL for a crystalline and limpid tune then it goes slowly, ah a little riff djent to disturb you, I am listening to this fusion of genres and it stays at a nervous level by far now; the air of 'Day and Age' comes back here for a few moments, no but they even merge their titles the rascals?. Relax, ok they play on top of that and immerse you in a melancholy atmosphere filled with punchy colors and a black voice, losing you in dreamlike lands, wish GILMOUR comes at the end with lots of children; a cult piece. "Repeat to Fade" suite with Wallian female choirs, a moaning soprano in addition to John's singing, his martial à la 'Intruder', rhythms with variations and repetitions, the infernal drums, the girl returns a time before the explosion and the choir, the voice of the court is still ringing in your ears with that deafening white noise.

For the luxury version, the instrumental album to surrender to the rhythm and pure tunes of this peerless group, choose.

FROST * released their prog album full of emotion and sensitivity; a real musical gem filled with rhythm, few solos, for that go on the instrumental version. The sound merges, uses the particularity of each drummer to vary the tune of the different titles, the sound represents the quintessence of modern prog rock, or prog synth or prog metal, musical art rock, an intense dreamlike journey and a major album.

Report this review (#2545407)
Posted Tuesday, May 25, 2021 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well, I'm surprised. Frost did it. They randomly decided to make their first masterpiece out of nowhere, and one of the few neo-prog albums I would consider as such. I personally dislike neo-prog, with maybe a few exceptions like The Flower Kings. After all, grabbing a *progressive* music genre and *regressing* back to the 70s is something I don't really dig. It usually sounds very dull, like a worse version of everything you ever heard in the golden era. Frost was a band I never really cared much about. They were more of that typical neo-prog that I simply was never interested in, and a new album by them was something I didn't really care about at all.

However I did find it interesting that despite the low rating amount, it held the highest star rating of their entire discography, plus it had a cool album cover. So I decided to sit down and give it a listen, after all, 53 minutes isn't a very long runtime. So I must say that I was pleasantly surprised, this is seriously one of the most fun and enjoyable neo-prog albums I've heard. It's like Steven Wilson's The Future Bites but if it had redeemable content.

1. Day And Age (9/10): The album starts with the longest track (and the only one exceeding the ten minute mark) which is also the title track. It begins with a mean monologue, don't call me scum >:( followed by a fast paced 80s-sounding bassline, with an overall up-beat feel. The drumming is excellent, and the voice effect on the vocals are surprisingly good and help establish a trademark sound for the album. The song then enters a more calm section along a continuous drum base with sick fills and a slow build-up, only to restart again. Eventually, an empty atmospheric section with a remaining metal riff starts, accompanied with some female vocals. The song then enters the best section, an up-beat, happy section that closes the song with a reprise of the beginning.

2. Terrestrial (7/10): Starts with overlapped voices and a RadioHead-styled semi-fastpaced proggy section that works as the main chorus. A dark riff then enters the song, providing great contrast, keyboards then make a short and noticeable appearance in the song. The song ends with the chorus.

3. Waiting For The Lie (7/10): Begins with a raw piano accompanied with vocals, gives you an utopian feel. Some synthetic chords kick in, eventually the song goes back to a more packed version of the main verse. Pretty simple song, but it works well as a break or bridge for the album.

4. The Boy Who Stood Still (8/10): Keyboards give serious 80s vibes. The song starts with a considerably long monologue that lasts until minute 2:40, where vocals appear. The chorus is very trance-ish, and the monologue starts again very soon. The song enters an atmospheric section with synthetic chords and then goes back to the main chorus. The ending of the song is very rhythmic and features voice tracks all around the place, probably my favorite part from the song.

5. Island Life (7/10): A fast paced track that begins with the recurring "enjoy yourself" theme heard all along the album. A very up- beat track that features more acoustic elements. The keyboards then play a great melody that I really wished lasted longer. The song finished with vocals overlapping the main chorus and a Morse signal.

6. Skywards (8/10): I listened this album today and this song already feels very nostalgic. The chorus has an amazing and sweet melody. It's a shame that it isn't very long and that there wasn't some sort of solo to help power up the song even more. The song ends with the chorus as you would expect.

7. Kill The Orchestra (10/10): The juggernaut of the album, despite being the second longest. Starts with a very redemption-like mood, followed by a great guitar line and 80s sounding drums. The main verse continues until hitting the main chorus and a brutally heavy riff that made me go "holy sh*t!". The second iteration an awesome pre-chorus can be heard, followed by a trance-ish instrumental section where the vocals eventually are added. The song enters a Middle East styled section where the main chorus gets reprised. Near the end of the song, the same trance-ish keyboards can be heard, along with the main vocals and a voice reprising the "enjoy yourself" theme. The song ends with an atmospheric section and a very short guitar solo, colliding perfectly with the beginning of Repeat To Fade.

8. Repeat To Fade (8/10): Working as the closer, this track also reprises Kill The Orchestra. The 80s vibe heard all along the album is preset here as well, and the chorus is very powerful and hard-hitting, some indian female vocals can be heard at the back. The third chorus is received with a short a drum fill, and the vocals have more strength. At around minute 3:40, the singer sings with a voice box effect. Finally, the song ends with chorus and a static noise. In a very funny way, Repeat To Fade repeats the chorus a lot.

I really enjoyed this album and I personally think it's the best Frost album to date, recommended to neo-prog/crossover-prog fans. It's gotta be five stars for me!

Report this review (#2580649)
Posted Wednesday, July 21, 2021 | Review Permalink
5 stars Yep, the best Frost album. I enjoyed this album from beginning to end, and I think the band is definitely becoming better and more mature, musically speaking. The album has a lot of disco influence that Frost combine with progressive rock, and it works very well. Stand-outs are the title track, Skywards and Kill The Orchestra, the latter is probably my favorite song by them (yes, I like it more than Milliontown's title track). The rest of the album doesn't fall short however, It's very enjoyable.

I personally think this is a 4.5 star record, however since this is the band's best effort to date, I thought it would be nice to round it up. Good job Frost!

Report this review (#2580761)
Posted Thursday, July 22, 2021 | Review Permalink
5 stars Really thought it would be important for me to review this album since I've been a Frost fan for some time now, I will probably review their other albums soon. Frost has been a very consistent band. Milliontown was their debut and a very well deserved five star record in my opinion, the coming three we're definitely four star records. Very solid and enjoyable, but not spectacular like their debut. Day And Age kinda scared me at first because there wasn't many lengthy tracks, and the album itself is pretty short. But sometimes less is more, and Frost proved that with this record.

First of all, there's no weak tracks in here. In fact they're excellent, they combine synthethizers and electronic samples very well with classic Neo-Prog. There's three drummers as well, but they don't play at once. Standouts would be the title track, Terrestria, The Boy Who Stood Still and Island Life. The eight tracks keep a great consistency and that's what makes me give it the five star rating. It's their second best record, I still enjoy Milliontown more, but I must say I love this album.

Giving it five stars, a great comeback after the great but not amazing Falling Satellites.

Report this review (#2580763)
Posted Thursday, July 22, 2021 | Review Permalink
5 stars I must say this record is brilliant! I haven't heard many albums that sound like this one. It's definitely going to be remembered as Frost's landmark in coming years because this is the first time they actually have a recognizable sound instead of being some average neo-prog that sounds similar to many other songs.

I can describe this album's sound as a combination of disco, progressive rock, and psychedelic trance. Some songs are trance-ish and long while other have stronger emphasis on catchy choruses and melodies over short track lengths, reminiscent of pop music, but always with hints of progressive rock. My favorite track is probably Skywards, it's a short but sweet and memorable track.

It might be bold, but I think this record is five stars, more specifically, 4.5 stars. To be fair I usually give five stars only to essentially records, but this is without a doubt the most essential Frost album and a very unique record for the genre, so I'm all in!

Report this review (#2582050)
Posted Thursday, July 29, 2021 | Review Permalink
lazland
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Day And Age is the fourth studio album released by Frost*, that now long established vehicle of Jem Godfrey, perennial performer John Mitchell, and Nathan King. On this 2021 release, we have three drummers appearing, but unlike the triple-headed monster that is King Crimson, Pat Mastelotto (of that triple-headed monster), Kaz Rodriguez, and Darby Todd do not all play at the same time. Completing the line-up is Jason Isaacs, an actor whose main claim to fame in the Laz household is the fact he played the original captain on Star Trek Discovery. I am pretty surprised that I am the first Collaborator on PA to submit a review, because the band are considered, rightly, one of the more important UK bands to have emerged in the 2000's.

Humour is a sometimes difficult tool to use in music, and especially in the altogether "intellectually superior" world of progressive rock. So, when a charming young female English voice proclaims at the commencement of the album "hello, and welcome to the rest of your life. Before we begin this short journey, please sit back, relax, and remember, enjoy yourselves??..You Scum!", you either raise a chuckle, raise your eyebrows, or think to yourself, oh yeah, that's me, raise a glass to the scum making up the plebian classes of modern life. In my case, in fact, all three!

This interesting narrative moves into a nearly 12 minutes of very enjoyable modern prog as the title track blasts through your stereo speakers. The lyrics and rather dystopian tone of a thunderous beat suggest to us that we are not living and dying in a particularly progressive or positive age, and that for poor old humanity, the writing is indeed on the wall, lyrics which could easily have been written by a certain Private Fraser of Dad's Army fame. We're doomed, doomed, I tell ye! There follows a very enjoyable mid-passage in which the participants seem to musically circle each other and we the listeners, and the riffs created are deeply impressive, and special mention for Rodriguez who really does belt out the drums here. The sense of menace is heightened by the return of our young lady who ethereally voices her ubiquitous charm over the pounding riffs. The pace, if anything, quickens to a pulsating crescendo as the track ends. Extremely impressive, and as good as anything this band have done.

Those of you who enjoy Mitchell's Lonely Robot projects will find much to enjoy and recognise in Terrestrial. Godfrey's keys portray more sense of deep foreboding and there is a crushing guitar riff at the forefront of a very heavy piece of music which also contains far more subtle and quieter moments, and never fails to capture the attention.

This is followed by Waiting for the Lie, which brings us down somewhat from the freneticism which preceded it. The vocals are spacey, and the piano and electronic effects at the heart of the melody provide a satisfying contrast and a very good piece of music. At the end, our now familiar young lady exhorts us all to "wake up!", presumably just in case you have been lulled into a psych state of musical or drug induced stupor, and, indeed, quite possibly both at the same time of asking.

The Boy Who Stood Still is a story, narrated by Captain Lorca, of a boy who can, erm, stand completely still and observe the human races' many foibles in a suspended state. Godfrey creates a fascinating soundscape underneath all of this, and the basslines of King are particularly thunderous supporting both the narrative and some very good vocal harmonies. The closing section is heavy with the harmony vocals very powerful, before we are exhorted once again to "enjoy yourselves", this time by a lady of the American persuasion. A very clever track.

Island Life follows, and this is another pulsating heavy track, with lyrics now repeating the familiar refrain to enjoy ourselves, this time on our holidays, but the mood amplified by the swirling keys, looping bass, and thumping drums do not really put one in mind of a relaxing time on the Mediterranean beaches. Skywards is a relatively shorter track, downbeat but a fascinating listen with the virtuosity Mastelotto brings to the drum and percussion department. In fact, this is a track I believe could quite easily sit alongside the later Crimson industrial musical phase.

Kill The Orchestra continues this downbeat, some might say rather bleak, mood, although the music which creates this is about as diverse as it gets. It opens with a gentle vocal and simple piano arrangement, although the statement that we should kill the orchestra as they are dying anyway is not particularly guaranteed to cheer one up. As the piece moves into its main body, there is a lovely rhythm created before we are hit by a thunderbolt of alternate industrial metal riffs and the return of those gentle loops. This is a track which absolutely keeps a hold of the listener because you never really know where it is going, and I say that in a positive way. A deep bass voice advises the listener to "relax and enjoy yourselves" once again towards the close, and this does lead us into a beautiful passage of music led by swirling keys and a delicious, albeit far too short, pastoral guitar solo. Indeed, a reasonable criticism I would put out here is that the album might have been more complete with some extended examples of this.

Closing proceedings is Repeat To Fade, and this is hypnotic stuff, albeit something that might be considered as something out of your darkest and scariest nightmares. We have the main lyric of the song title alongside some very dark sound effects, screams, and operatic resonances, all underpinned by more thundering drums (Mastelotto again) and bass, but, once again very cleverly, interrupted by some perfectly lovely passages. As all this builds to a final manic two-minute crescendo of noise, and we have a psychotically bonkers voice shouting at us "enjoy yourselves! Everything is ok, you scum!"

This review is of the first cd of a Deluxe Version. CD2 contains some very impressive instrumental versions of the main body of work.

This is not an album for the fainthearted. The initial humour I described at the top is pretty much gone by the end, and what we have here is a rather dystopian view of the world, which most certainly should not be listened to intently when one is experiencing a negatively life changing experience ? we might never see you again! It is a very good rock album, and it is altogether marvellous in its execution, production, and ability to hold our attention, but, by God, it is rather bleak, and perhaps not the type of album which a young Jon Anderson with his hippy perspective on the universe would have imagined progressive rock in 2021 to be about.

Four stars, and recommended, but do, please, put on Time And A Word after, if only to pick yourselves up off the floor and get going again.

Report this review (#2587309)
Posted Thursday, August 19, 2021 | Review Permalink
Roland113
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Ok, I'm going to start with the wow factor. This album spoke to me more than any album has probably in like a decade. This album is so good that I'm writing my first review since 2015.

I've been a Frost* fan since I discovered them in '06, Milliontown is typically on my top ten albums list and they're one of those bands that I always make a point to check out when a new album comes out. So, I decided to give this one a spin a month or so ago. Immediately, I'm pulled in, the album just said 'Hello' to me, it's addressing me specifically . . . ok, I'm intrigued. Then it insults me, 'You Scum!' and I'm like, 'hey, let's not get personal here'.

And then the music kicks in. It's driving, the guitar is poignant, and then the lyrics kick in and the echoing 'who am I, who am I' resonates with me. In 2021, we've gone through so much history in the past year and a half, that I think we're all asking who we are. . . and suddenly I have a voice to my inner thoughts. 'We're living in a dying age, when the writing's on the wall, and we're burning with a quiet rage'. . . . ok, I'm hooked. I love everything about the opener.

The next songs are good and keep me interested and I'm kind of bopping along, then comes 'The Boy Who Stood Still' and again, I'm hooked. I need to hear the story of this boy, I'm hinging on every word narrated by Jason Issacs, the voice is perfect for the song, and the production is spot on. I loved the story and frankly, this is probably the most hopeful part of the album. Listen to the call back at the very end of the album, I think the 'can you hear me' question has got to be the boy from this song.

I think you can make a case for the last four songs to be an epic of . . . well, epic proportions. Throughout the entire back half, a lot of themes are repeated, and the songs show a certain consistency, aside from just the repeated order to 'Enjoy Yourself'. Island Life is this happy, jaunty song about vacation and the joys of holiday and how you'd better f'ing enjoy yourself or else. Skywards sounds like a reprise to Island Life with tones of the epic cacophony yet to come. In addition, the lyrics are a deliciously dark statement on blaming God for your troubles, 'What's skywards is not to blame'. On the epic theme, the keys in the chorus are a precursor to 'Kill the Orchestra'.

'Kill the Orchestra' starts off softly, but again, the bleakness of the lyrics shine through, 'Kill the orchestra, we're dying anyway.' This song takes you on an emotional crescendo building up to about the six-and-a-half-minute mark when it drops down and we are again reminded to 'Relax, Everything is OK, Enjoy Yourselves' as we enjoy a musical call back to the opening track. We get a tasty John Mitchel solo towards the end of the song, which only serves up the final track, giving us a glimpse at the 'Repeat to Fade' motif.

Then holy smokes, 'Repeat to Fade' gives me goosebumps. This song has everything going on in it, crashing guitars, Middle Eastern vocals clashing with angry screaming, trippy keyboards and again, the order to 'Enjoy Yourself . . . You Scum'. I cannot fully describe how much this song speaks to me. It's not a happy song, it's as dark and bleak as we get and a perfect coda to the album.

If you're looking for a happy uplifting album, this isn't it. If you're looking for something that captures the ennui and sense of helplessness of Gen X in 2021, then this may be your prog anthem. Is it a fun album, no, but it's an album that makes me realize, that I'm not alone. With a relevant theme, a fantastic mix and spot on musicianship, this album is gripping. Oh, and I almost forgot.

ENJOY YOURSELF, EVERYTHING IS OK . . . YOU SCUM!

Report this review (#2588265)
Posted Sunday, August 22, 2021 | Review Permalink
BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A Return to Milliontown?

Day and Age is definitely a step away from the lean, compacted, futuristic song constructs that Jem and company presented to Prog World in 2008 with their sophomore collection of songs, the exciting-though-jarring Experiments in Mass Appeal. In 2016, principal collaborators, Jem Godfrey and John Mitchel, teamed up with Nathan King and drummer Craig Blundell to create another collection of high-powered, compressed, and highly computer-edited songs on Falling Satellites, a good though, sadly, forgettable Crossover product. Here it almost seems as if the wintery gents are trying to get back to the heavier, drawn out Neo Prog forms they initially explored with their wonderful 2006 debut, Milliontown. Jem, John, and Nathan have here added some interesting drumming collaborators to present a very atmospheric and often heavy, though also, at times, symphonic compendium of expression.

1. "Day and Age" (11:49) Despite it's driven fast pace and heavy chorus, this song owes much to Peter Gabriel-- especially "Red Rain." The drumming seems pressed, the guitar work quite reminiscent of that of TOTO's great Steve Lukather, the bass like Tony Levin, and the layers of keys awesomely agreeable and not-over-produced-- though often Fender Rhodes driven á la M. Gabriel. I like, and feel engaged by, the non-lead vocal, instrumental sections of this song--even the foreboding section in the ninth minute with the children's choir singing, while the main vocal sections are just okay--are greatly saved by the Phil Manzanera-like guitar work and driving bass and drum lines. (22/25)

2. "Terrestrial" (5:12) despite great keyboard and guitar work, this is a rather generic, cookie cutter, power Frost* song. (8.5/10)

3. "Waiting for the Lie" (4:31) opens with a jazzy piano sequence of arpeggi over which a David Gilmour-like vocal is whisper-sung. A symphonic mid-section softens for a chorus vocal and a shift into a PORCUPINE TREE-like mood as drums and bass effectively join in as Jem's vocal soars and amps into an emotional crescendo. Nice. (8.75/10)

4. "The Boy Who Stood Still" (7:33) narrated by actor Jason Isaacs (Mr. Darling/Captain Hook on 2003's Peter Pan; Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter film series; Hap Percy on The OA), The Boy definitely presents an interesting, intriguing story--a kind of flip-perspective take of The Invisible Man. The music is great--with Tony Levin-like bass, driving Manu Katché-like drums, and layers upon layers of keyboard and effected guitar work. M. Isaacs has an awesome voice and approach to this performance--quite powerful and effective in an Orson Wells/Jeremy Irons-like way. And the music is dynamic, exciting, providing excellent background even though it remains surprisingly busy and nuanced when M. Isaacs is speaking and also quite interesting and dynamic in its own right when it is the primary feature. My first top three song and, in my opinion, the best song on the album--and one of the best songs I've heard from 2021. (15/15)

5. "Island Life" (4:14) media samples open before Jem's PETER GABRIEL treated-raspy voice enters to introduce the song. The band jumps in with nice enthusiasm and impressive pace and skill. Nathan King really shines, for me. John Mitchell's guitar work is nicely subdued in its support role and the drumming is right in the mix. The song is apparently about nuclear weapons and radiation poisoning--delivered by an adequate vocal performance. What is surprisingly low key here, are the keyboards! (8.5/10)

6. "Skywards" (4:15) Here Jem Godfrey's vocal sounds so much like Peter Gabriel--until the chorus and stronger parts when it becomes more like THE PINEAPPLE THIEF's Bruce Soord. Great dynamics, bass presence, nuanced drumming and, of course, keyboard mastery. A top three song, to be sure, though still bringing nothing new to Prog World. (9/10)

7. "Kill the Orchestra" (9:27) solo electric piano and palintive vocal for the first two minutes, it sounds almost like a passage from a BUGGLES song. When the song kicks into drive in the third minute, Jem's voice takes on a JOHN MARTYN-like sound. Heavy Frost*/John Mitchell bridge between the first two verses of this section, it returns in the fifth minute to briefly support the chorus. Then the song shifts into a busier instrumental support to the vocals leading into another blast of the chorus before bridging into a spacious, creepy keyboard-based "What have we done?" section starting in the seventh minute and playing into 7:45 before shifting moods with thick, multi-synth chords. At 8:30 things quiet down as cymbals support some bass notes and Gilmour-ish guitar, Keyboard chord play, and (17.75/20)

8. "Repeat to Fade (6:15) bleeding straight from "Kill the Orchestra," it is obvious that this Pink Floyd/Peter Gabriel- like song is part of a two song suite. (Why were the two split apart?) The bass play sounds so TONY LEVIN-esque! And the chorus sounds so much like "We Do What We're Told (Milgrim's 37)." Another top three song for me despite it's Peter Gabriel and Frost* familiarity. (9/10)

Total Time 53:16

Had Peter Gabriel ever continued on a trend toward heavy prog, this might have been what he sounded like. I have to say that I prefer the enthusiastic drumming of an invested Craig Blundell (a highlight of Falling Satellites) to the paid contributors here. Jem is a master of multi-layering keyboards and I love the way John Mitchell's restraint and excellently nuanced rhythm work reveal more and more with each listen, but it's Nathan King's bass playing that really keeps me coming back.

B+/4.5 stars; an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection.

Report this review (#2588978)
Posted Tuesday, August 24, 2021 | Review Permalink
4 stars Frost* are back... you scum! Neo-progressive and pop rock supergroup Frost*'s fourth studio album was released in May of 2021, some five years after the unusual but very successful 'Falling Satellites'. It has to be said from the get-go that every new Frost* release is a big event in the world of prog, and there are good reasons for this: the British master musicians have been one of the best collectives to come from the UK last decade, and their discography up to that point is nothing less than groundbreaking.

With high expectations, a lot of time on their hands, and crazy times to be living in, these people have certainly crafted one of the finest prog rock albums not only of this year, but certainly of this decade. The big change with the previous albums is that Frost* parted ways with drumming extraordinaire Craig Blundell, known also as part of the Steven Wilson live band; And his replacements are three different people coming from different bands playing different music, which are Pat Mastelotto, Kaz Rodriguez, and Darby Todd - this is an interesting move for sure, but there are moments where it feels like the involvement in the writing process that a regular band member has, is gone.

Properly naming the album 'Day and Age', this record seems to continue the thematic explorations of 'Falling Satellites', which some may recall, was described by Jem Godfrey as his 'mid-life crisis album'. On this new release, Frost* take a critical look upon our wicked times and comment on the grim reality, contrasting with the little girl (later a male narrator) telling the listeners to enjoy themselves, while living in this day and age; A message that seems to be not too far away from the lyrical content of the latest Steven Wilson release. John Mitchell, Jem Godfrey, and Nathan King are, as usual, very elegantly playing, masterfully in charge of the music, depicting every bit of their imagination with graceful musical prowess. All this makes up for a pretty impressive album and another really good installment in this band's catalogue.

A great return to form, 'Day and Age' is, in my humble opinion, a sort of continuation of their previous, third studio album. The album is quite different from 'Milliontown', for example, but it manages to deliver that same vital energy. The songs are quite atmospheric, pretty mature, well-composed and certainly not standard when compared to the music of Frost*'s peers. A very peculiar decision by the band is to leave off all soloing that they are usually so fond of doing; a decision that certainly pays off nicely, as the absence of solos is replaced by layers of guitar and synth sounds, building up an ominous but comforting ambience. Some very notable highlights would include the title track, 'Terrestrial', 'The Boy Who Stood Still', 'Kill the Orchestra', 'Repeat to Fade', but in reality, there are no weak compositions or songs. An excellent album that would be a fantastic addition to any prog lover's collection.

Report this review (#2589216)
Posted Thursday, August 26, 2021 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
3 stars I hate punctuation marks as a part of a band's moniker so i admit i have a chip on my shoulder about FROST* right from the getgo. It irritates me to no end not knowing how to pronounce a band's name. Is it just FROST or is it FROST ASTERISK? Ultimately i don't care enough and have just avoided this artist altogether but having an insatiable musical appetite dictates i finally check out an album by this London based band that has been around since 2004. Best known for making neo-proggers go gaga with its debut release "Milliontown" in 2006, FROST* is back with a new album.

For those who don't already know this band, this has basically been the solo project of vocalist, keyboardist and pop song composer Jem Godfrey. The FROST* project has been his way of crafting his pop hooks with more textural complexities and oft overwrought production techniques. DAY AND AGE is the fourth album to emerge and sees a new set of cast members joining ranks. Arena's John Mitchell has been with Godfrey from the start and returns as the guitarist. Bassist Nathan King of the 80s synthpop band Level 42 sticks around for his second album.

With the departure of drummer Craig Blundell, FROST* now features three guests drummers which includes Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson, Mister Mister), Kaz Rodriguez (Chaka Khan, Josh Groban) and Darby Todd (The Darkness, Martin Barre). Jason Isaacs appears as a second vocalist along with Godfrey. The band's last album "Falling Satellites" appeared all the way back in 2016 but the EP "Others" appeared in 2020 and signaled that the band was still alive and kicking. Together these guys keep FROST* alive with another installation of its classic Genesis meets 80s Peter Gabriel sound forged with catchy pop hooks and atmospheric rivers of ambience.

This is somewhat of a bouncy sort of sound for neo-prog. You can certainly hear the 80s synthpop connections with those famous drumrolls that appeared in all those synth-based hits of prog's least productive decade. Basically the eight tracks that add up to over 53 minutes showcase keyboard overload with guitars, bass and drums somewhat as a backdrop. I'm not sure how many layers of synthesized parts are involved but they mostly dominate the album's entirety. To my ears this sounds more like a more complex Peter Gabriel solo album than anything in the world of neo-prog. Despite the Arena connections, nothing about FROST* resembles that band's cleverly crafted complexities.

Perhaps this an acquired taste that i've yet not acclimated to but i find this style of symphonic prog to be rather saccharine and uninviting. I'm not sure who sings where but the exchange of vocal parts sounds like a tradeoff between classic Gabriel inspired vocals and Neil Morse. The slow parts are in sappy ballad formats while the heavier uptempo aspects of the album sound like a better produced pop rock hit of the 1980s. While not my cup of tea, i have to admit the complexities of the keyboards are the highlight of the album's production heavy sound. I find the longer tracks such as the opening title track and the near 10-minute "Kill The Orchestra" to be the most redeeming however some parts actually remind me of George Michael songs with more guitar heft. There are several spoken word parts as well.

While neo-prog has always been the poppier side of the prog universe, FROST* seems to take this to the ultimate extreme almost sounding like a progressive version of 80s synthpop music only with a bit of guitar heft thrown in for good measure. When all is said and done this isn't horrible but neither is it the type of album that makes me want to return. The album is just too sappy and happy for my tastes. There is no diversity in emotive tapestry weaving and it's all a bit too one-dimensional for my tastes. I honestly don't see the appeal of this band but no matter how hard i try i guess i can't like everything!

Report this review (#2608367)
Posted Wednesday, October 27, 2021 | Review Permalink

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