Review – Frost* – Day And Age – by John Wenlock-Smith

What a year this is turning out to be, eh? We have had lockdowns, a new US President, I was so glad to see the back of Donald Trump and his inane ‘Twittering’s’, along with his clan of hangers on and thugs. Thankfully so were most Americans, sick of his lies and arrogance and concern for himself and so voted him out, although the incidents at the Capitol Hill probably sealed his fate, for now at least.

In other news, we have seen mass vaccinations against Covid, the emergence of random variants and possible hope for return to a more normal way of living, although some changes will probably remain in situ for now. In this time of uncertainty there are signs of new life, especially musically, as bands are emerging, once again, with the promise of live shows nearer to reality and new material in the can awaiting release.

Frost* are one such act. After a fine digital EP last year, ‘The Others’, and the ’13 Winters’ box set that brought the first ten years of the band together in one fabulous complete 8 CD set, comes this new release ‘Day and Age’ which opens the next stage of their ongoing history.

Consisting of 8 tracks lasting just over 53 minutes, this is a stroll through the modern world as seen by Frost*. Expect despair, hope, longing, confusion and fear along with strong melodies and inspired music, albeit with an edge of discomfort and unsettlement.

“Welcome to the rest of your life… sit back and remember, enjoy yourselves, you scum”, or so the disturbing child’s voice intones at the beginning of opener Day and Age. Things settle into a mid-paced track with lots happening musically, a powerful back beat and masses of keyboards and chiming guitars and with John Mitchell sounding not unlike a certain Mr Gabriel on this song. Everything passes swiftly with nary a wasted second, indeed, as an opener, it is certainly one of the most effective I’ve heard this year and stands right up there with tracks like Hypersonic from ‘Liquid Tension Experiment 3’ and Out Of This World from Kayak. Yes folks, in a dim world, there is mighty fine new music being conceived and delivered by our prog heroes who are, to a man, refusing to allow Covid restrictions to curtail their ongoing creativity and we are most thankful for that.

The album has a few shorter tracks in amongst the longer ones and, in all of these, you can hear the pop sensibilities that Frost* employ so wonderfully, along with the thunderous drums of Kaz Rodriguez, Darby Todd and Pat Mastelotto, each of whom pound away very satisfyingly indeed with power, strength and finesse..

This is especially so on the awesome The Boy Who Stood Still, which includes a fine voice over from Jason Isaacs. Sound wise, this song reminds me of the mighty Propaganda of ZTT Records fame who, through a blend of hard-edged percussion and angular vocals, married funk and progressive elements so wonderfully. Check out Duel or Dr Mabuse for an example of their sound and then see how this Frost* track compares, I can certainly see the similarities. The track is a decent length too and benefits from the extended running time to realise its ideas fully, it really is an interesting song. Lyrically this is a dark album and, were it not for the imaginative music Frost* create, could be considered very mournful and sad. Yet the music works with the lyrics to create something that is not really that sad somehow, I think it is the imagination they employ that elevates the songs to different heights. 

Another Excellent song is Kill The Orchestra, it opens with some rather dreamy piano that is completely in contrast to the darkness of the lyrics. That may, of course, be in part due to the locations involved in the writing of these songs, namely a converted coastguard tower in the south west of England amongst other locations. This possible bleakness contributes to the darkness and stark feelings contained in these songs, which, when you read the lyrics, is clearly apparent as a dark and yet interesting view of the world becomes clear.

All of this makes the album all the better for it does not sugar coat the band’s views and takes such a bold lyrical stance. Kill the Orchestra is particularly dark in tone with its tale of a would-be rock star who is lost in his own self worth to the point of self-obsession. All of this is backed by some epic musical sections to make a seriously good song.

This is an ambitious set of songs performed wonderfully and are very satisfying musically. With the modern edge to its sound, ‘Day and Age’ is an album that is impressive from its disturbing opening voice right to the end some, 53 minutes later. This is one that is best heard loud in the dark I think, you will love it!

Released 14th May, 2021

Order from Burning Shed here:

Day And Age (burningshed.com)

FROST* release ‘Terrestrial’; first single from new album ‘Day And Age’

Frost* recently announced ‘Day And Age’, their first new studio album in 5 years, set for release on the 14th May 2021. The band’s fourth record features Jem Godfrey once again joined by John Mitchell & Nathan King, as well as 3 guest drummers: Kaz Rodriguez (Chaka Khan, Josh Groban), Darby Todd (The Darkness, Martin Barre) & Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson, Mister Mister). The album also features actor Jason Isaacs.

Today the band are pleased to launch ‘Terrestrial’, the first single taken from ‘Day And Age’, and you can watch the video here: 

Jem Godfrey comments: “Terrestrial is about Donald Crowhurst who disappeared while competing in the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race never to be found. The last page of his logbook contained the words: “I have no need to prolong the game. It is finished – It is finished IT IS THE MERCY.”

 ‘Day And Age’ was recorded over the course of 2019 and 2020, featuring 8 tracks and striking cover artwork by Carl Glover of Aleph Studios (Steven Wilson, Marillion, Steve Jansen). The album will be released on Limited 2CD (including a bonus disc of instrumentals), Gatefold 180g 2LP + CD (with etching on Side D), and as Digital Album. Pre-order now here: https://frost-band.lnk.to/DayAndAge

The full track-listing is below:

1.         Day And Age 11:49

2.         Terrestrial 5:13

3.         Waiting For The Lie 4:31

4.         The Boy Who Stood Still 7:33

5.         Island Life 4:14

6.         Skywards 4:13

7.         Kill The Orchestra 9:27

8.         Repeat To Fade 6:14 

In September 2019 Godfrey and Mitchell rented a cottage for a week in Helford, Cornwall and set about converting it into a recording studio. Day one saw them write and record “Skywards”, “Island Life” was written on day two. On day three, the duo wrote what was to become the title and defining track of the new album, “Day And Age”. 

The following January, the band setup a new temporary studio for a further week in a converted coastguard tower at Dungeness in East Sussex. “We were 30 feet by the sea, next to a nuclear power station and a lighthouse, in midwinter. So there was hardly any daylight and the weather was dreadful”, laughs bassist Nathan King, “We wrote “Terrestrial” and “Repeat To Fade” there and you can definitely hear the bleak isolated oppression having an effect on us. The songs we wrote were far darker – the wind howling round the building at night, the power station generating crackles on the audio, a huge lighthouse next door sweeping light into the fog every 30 seconds and John screaming “ENJOY YOURSELVES YOU SCUM” into a microphone. It was absolutely brilliant!”.

In November 2020, Frost* released the career-retrospective collection ‘13 Winters’ which featured all their studio albums to date, plus live material, b-sides & last years ‘Others’ EP, all packaged in a beautiful artbook.

Frost* was formed in 2004 by keyboard player and singer Jem Godfrey, Released in 2006 the band’s debut album “Milliontown” was an instant success and is regarded by many as a classic in the modern prog rock genre featuring John Mitchell on guitar, John Jowitt on bass and Andy Edwards on drums. The band quickly followed it up with “Experiments In Mass Appeal” in 2008, in many ways the antithesis of “Milliontown” featuring a much more stripped back sound, more concise songs and a new band member and singer in the form of Dec Burke.

The live album “The Philadelphia Experiment” followed in 2009 and the a long gap followed before 3rd album “Falling Satellites” was released in 2016 with a new line-up of Nathan King on bass and Craig Blundell on drums, plus returning guitarist and singer John Mitchell on guitar who also co-wrote much of the album with Jem Godfrey. 

FROST* return with fourth studio album ‘Day And Age’

Frost* are returning with their first new studio album in 5 years on the 14th May 2021. ‘Day And Age’ is the band’s fourth record, and features Jem Godfrey once again joined by John Mitchell & Nathan King, as well as 3 guest drummers: Kaz Rodriguez (Chaka Khan, Josh Groban), Darby Todd (The Darkness, Martin Barre) & Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson, Mister Mister). The album also features actor Jason Isaacs.

Jem Godfrey comments of the new album: “2020 was the year of the studio for obvious reasons. As a result 2021 is going to be a bumper year for new music I think and we’re very happy to be riding that wave too into what I hope will be a better year for everybody.”

 ‘Day And Age’ was recorded over the course of 2019 and 2020, featuring 8 tracks and striking cover artwork by Carl Glover of Aleph Studios (Steven Wilson, Marillion, Steve Jansen). The full track-listing is below:

1.         Day And Age 11:49

2.         Terrestrial 5:13

3.         Waiting For The Lie 4:31

4.         The Boy Who Stood Still 7:33

5.         Island Life 4:14

6.         Skywards 4:13

7.         Kill The Orchestra 9:27

8.         Repeat To Fade 6:14 

The album will be released on Limited 2CD (including a bonus disc of instrumentals), Gatefold 180g 2LP + CD (with etching on Side D), and as Digital Album. Pre-order starts 19th March.

In September 2019 Godfrey and Mitchell rented a cottage for a week in Helford, Cornwall and set about converting it into a recording studio. Day one saw them write and record “Skywards”, “Island Life” was written on day two. On day three, the duo wrote what was to become the title and defining track of the new album, “Day And Age”. 

The following January, the band setup a new temporary studio for a further week in a converted coastguard tower at Dungeness in East Sussex. “We were 30 feet by the sea, next to a nuclear power station and a lighthouse, in midwinter. So there was hardly any daylight and the weather was dreadful”, laughs bassist Nathan King, “We wrote “Terrestrial” and “Repeat To Fade” there and you can definitely hear the bleak isolated oppression having an effect on us. The songs we wrote were far darker – the wind howling round the building at night, the power station generating crackles on the audio, a huge lighthouse next door sweeping light into the fog every 30 seconds and John screaming “ENJOY YOURSELVES YOU SCUM” into a microphone. It was absolutely brilliant!”.

In November 2020, Frost* released the career-retrospective collection ‘13 Winters’ which featured all their studio albums to date, plus live material, b-sides & last years ‘Others’ EP, all packaged in a beautiful artbook. 

Frost* was formed in 2004 by keyboard player and singer Jem Godfrey, Released in 2006 the band’s debut album “Milliontown” was an instant success and is regarded by many as a classic in the modern prog rock genre featuring John Mitchell on guitar, John Jowitt on bass and Andy Edwards on drums. The band quickly followed it up with “Experiments In Mass Appeal” in 2008, in many ways the antithesis of “Milliontown” featuring a much more stripped back sound, more concise songs and a new band member and singer in the form of Dec Burke. 

The live album “The Philadelphia Experiment” followed in 2009 and the a long gap followed before 3rd album “Falling Satellites” was released in 2016 with a new line-up of Nathan King on bass and Craig Blundell on drums, plus returning guitarist and singer John Mitchell on guitar who also co-wrote much of the album with Jem Godfrey.

FROST* – announce release of “Others – EP” on June 5, 2020

With FROST*’s latest album, “Falling Satellites”, dating back to 2016, it was about time, mastermind Jem Godfrey teamed up with Nathan King and John Mitchell to continue forging daring and dynamic progressive music.

Completed already back in 2019, FROST* now announce the release of the stunning 32 minutes long “Others – EP”. Jem Godfrey states:

“Others” is a 6 track EP containing 6 songs that were written at the time of the “Falling Satellites” album. Initially the idea was that “Falling Satellites” would be a double album, but it felt more focused and concise as a single album by the time we’d finished making it, so these half completed songs were put to one side. Now finished and mixed, they are ready to see the light of day!”

The EP will be released digitally on June 5, 2020 and will be released as part of the limited “13 Winters” anthology-artbook physically later this year. 

A first track from the “Others – EP” will be released on May 22! 

The track-list is below:

1. Fathers

2. Clouda

3. Exhibit A

4. Fathom

5. Eat

6. Drown

Furthermore, FROST* are putting finishing touches to their highly anticipated new studio album which is tentatively scheduled for a September release through InsideOutMusic.

Review – Frost* – Falling Satellites – by Progradar

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“You can decorate absence however you want- but you’re still gonna feel what’s missing.”
― Siobhan Vivian

Bloody hell, I didn’t realise it has been 8 years since Frost*, the brainchild of seminal keyboard wizard Jem Godfrey, released their last album ‘Experiments In Mass Appeal’.

This was a band who I saw supporting Dream Theater in Leeds and, despite the fact I’d never heard of, or anything by, them, was utterly blown away by the combination of incredibly complex keyboards and fizzing guitars which, combined with impressive melodies, gave us the breath of fresh air that was the ‘Milliontown album in 2006, one that is still revered in hushed tones to this day.

My love of Dream Theater began to wane in earnest that evening but I have been waiting with bated breath for news of a new Frost* album.

The Flash

So, to bide the time awaiting the new record I came up with imagined scenarios as to what Jem could have been up to in the intervening years (I know, I need to get out more).

Have any of you watched DC Comic’s The Flash? I bet a few of you have but, if not, a quick summary.

Uber genius Harrison Wells has his own particle accelerator (like you do) at his company Star Laboratories which goes into meltdown and causes a huge explosion. Some of those caught up in the blast end up with super powers, Meta-Humans, some good and some bad.

Now, imagine if our Jem was one of those caught in the fallout and his supercharged, manic energy came as a result of the Star Labs explosion? (still with me?, good!) and he has been kidnapped by some evil Bond villain and forced to sit in a room and churn out turgid mainstream hits for the last 8 years?

Enough to send you mad, you would agree? Not Mr Godfrey, upon his exciting escape, he set about writing the latest Frost* album ‘Falling Satellites’ and put all of his near 8 years in captivity into this latest bombastic musical extravaganza!

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On ‘Falling Satellites’ Jem Godfrey is joined by long term collaborator John Mitchell (Lonely Robot/It Bites) on guitar and vocals plus Nathan King (Level 42) on bass and drummer Craig Blundell (Steven Wilson).

“This line-up has been in existence since 2010 and is now the longest version of Frost* that there’s ever been”, says Godfrey, “so it’s strange to think that this is the first time we’ve recorded an album together”.

There are 11 songs in total with the final 6 songs forming a 32 minute long suite called “Sunlight”. Within this collection of songs comes an unexpected guest appearance from none other than Grammy nominated guitar legend Joe Satriani.

As to the album’s theme… “It’s about chance and life. The astronomically unlikely chance of being conceived to start with and then surviving to old age”, Godfrey says, “the near impossible odds of the things that happen to you in life benefitting you rather than killing you are gigantic and yet it happens all the time. It’s about celebrating how extraordinarily rare the period of us being alive is and how we should take more time to appreciate it while we’re here. We’re a long time dead at either end of this brief little flicker.”

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What were we going to get after eight years? opening number First Day is a short introductory track that has Frost* writ large all over it, reverential keyboards and hushed, breathy vocals given a real sense of anticipation before we get into the new music proper…. Numbers showcases the new high energy prog/pop style perfectly with a funky keyboard intro, full of energy and innovation. The harmonised vocals are excellent and you just find yourself toe-tapping madly to the addictive sound of crunchy guitars and Jem’s manic keyboard style. The fast paced guitar licks and solo add even more impulse to this high octane four minutes of near-perfect musical vivacity.

How do you incorporate dub-step into progressive pop music? I have no idea but Jem Godfrey obviously does! Towerblock begins in quiet, reverential fashion, all calm and collected before all hell breaks loose and a really dynamic and grungy keyboard takes over. To be honest I had no idea what to make of it at first but, do yourself a favour, just go with the flow and it soon starts to make addictive sense as it gets under your skin. Flowing, fluid  and off the wall keyboards writhe around never quite letting your brain comprehend them and Jem’s fiercely protective vocal gives a serious edge. It really shouldn’t work but it does, gloriously, as you find yourself playing air keyboards and jumping up and down (what do you mean, you didn’t?). One of the most innovative and fresh tracks to hit progressive rock in many a year, I loved it, the utterly demented keyboard and drum frenzy that closes out the song is inspired.

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The calm after the storm, Signs begins as a wistful and whimsical delight with carefully delivered vocals before opening up with a monster riff and some towering keys. The rhythm section of King and Blundell (new cop partnership anyone?) ably providing support. the track flows between these calm amd collected verses and the lofty and imposing chorus where the organ-like keyboards add a real note of veneration. A superbly crafted piece of songwriting with some punchy powerful riffs that showcase Mr Mitchell’s guitar prowess and an utterly compelling performance behind the kit from Craig Blundell. This song sees a more influential return to the expansive and charismatic soundscape well beloved of Frost* fans everywhere and brings a smile to my face. Oh you thing of infinite wonder and delight, Lights Out is a gorgeous little track that pulls at your very soul with its unclouded resplendence. The keyboards have an ethereal edge to them, Craig’s drumming is sublime and the vocals have a soft yearning feel underlying them. A touch of longing fills your soul and you drift away on a cloud of well-being, notably Frost* but with a new and stylish veneer. Belay that feeling of goodwill, the high-energy intro to Heartstrings takes no quarter and fills you with a feeling of expectation. That keyboard heavy sound returns and the instantly recognisable and harmonised chorus could only be Frost* at the height of their powers. Like a white water ride in a tumbling raft, the irrepressible dynamics of the song pull you along in their wake, an utterly willing victim of its charismatic persona. The final repeat of the chorus feels like an outpouring of emotion as the track closes out with a hook filled ending.

Mitchell

The whole album is full of superb tracks and this is only intensified with Closer To The Sun. Another fine exponent of the new found pop sensibilites it just feels right. The introduction is catchy, upbeat and utterly persuasive and has a feel of lazy summer days without a care in the world to it. The vocals are kept in the background and everything is expertly subdued before John Mitchell delivers another spellbinding guitar solo that squirrels through your mind, touching every sensory receptor before making way for Jem’s potent and progressive keyboards that tell a musical tale all of their own. Zone out these two musical maestros though and you can hear the notable chops that Nathan and Craig bring to the party. If the previous track was smoother than an otter’s pocket (thanks to Robin Armstrong for that gem) then (deep breath all) Raging Against The Dying Of The Light – Blues in 7/8 is as forceful as a tsunami. The thunderous opening is dominated by the evil sound of Jem’s keyboards, literally blowing everything out of their path. The vocals have a real dark edge to them, forceful and demanding and Craig really gives his kit a work out. The real star of this track though is the hugely demonstrative tone of the keys as they forge their own way, brooking no argument. The occasional lulls only seem to enforce the aggressive and potent intent of the rest of this red-blooded track, it’s like Frost* on something entirely illegal, it shouldn’t be allowed, just be glad it is! I do like a good instrumental from these boys and they really scaled the heights with Hyperventilate from ‘Milliontown’ so it was great to know that ‘Falling Satellites’ would feature it’s own. Nice Day For It….. is another great track, technically it’s not fully instrumental but you’ll forgive me that foible I’m sure, that just seems to flow perfectly from beginning to end, all the musicians working in perfect harmony to deliver a near flawless slice of melodic precision that is just bliss to the ears. It rises and falls superbly, the keyboards being the driving force once again, guitar adding the finishing touches and drum and bass playing the perfect wingmen.

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Hypoventilate is a two minute wall of sound, a musical force of nature that blots out the Sun around it. An slow burning, brooding and intense musical experience that just knocks you over, leaving you senseless before the gentle persuasions of Last Day pick you up and get you back on your feet again. The tender, mellow piano matching the placid, if a little care-worn, vocals to close out ‘Falling Satellites’ in a nostalgic, sentimental, even slightly regretful, manner.

So, after an eight year hiatus Frost* have returned with a triumphant third album that ticks all the relevant boxes for this tired old music hack. Definitively Frost* and yet with a distinctive lustre and some rather inspired new sounds that give it even more depth. Instantly accessible but, also, with untold layers of sophistication, oh bugger, this musical year just keeps getting better and better!

Released 27th may 2016.

Pre-order ‘Falling Satellites’ from The Merch Desk