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Frost* - Day and Age CD (album) cover

DAY AND AGE

Frost*

 

Neo-Prog

4.07 | 133 ratings

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BrufordFreak
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.

BrufordFreak | 4/5 |

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