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
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