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Frost* - Day and Age CD (album) cover

DAY AND AGE

Frost*

 

Neo-Prog

4.07 | 134 ratings

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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.

lazland | 4/5 |

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