Review Summary: Modern progressive rock at its best
There are some times in my life when I’ve blindly bought records from bands whose sound I’ve barely experienced and haven’t given proper consideration. This policy can be a real gamble, since it has landed me with mediocre releases like Trivium’s The Crusade and Yngwie Malmsteen’s Fire and Ice, decent albums that I listen to from time to time like Threshold’s Hypothetical or occasionally mindblowing albums that get me absolutely hooked on a band; Opeth’s Blackwater Park, Dream Theater’s Octavarium and Children of Bodom’s Hatebreeder have all redefined my musical life. When I saw this album recommended in a review of Porcupine Tree’s Stupid Dream
(which is a fairly distant comparison), I decided to give it a go.
The result is absolute win. Milliontown
takes a festive, warm atmosphere that may not have been original, but they manage to convey it better than any other band that I’ve heard. Opener Hyperventilate
is a good indicator of its sound; technical, catchy and majestic, it draws the listener into a winter wonderland of Frost*’s own making. The basic characteristics of Milliontown are presented here; masterful compositions that are led by the keyboards/piano as much, if not more than by the guitar; it’s no coincidence that Dream Theater’s keyboard man Jordan Rudess
has given this album some serious praise. The two instruments come together in a harmony that very few bands manage to achieve and consequentially, all the solos (and/or extended jams) in Milliontown are all thoroughly enjoyable to hear, unlike what many modern prog groups write (see about half of Dream Theater’s Systematic Chaos
for an example of over extravagant jams that fail to succeed ). The vocals are also astounding and accompany the other instruments perfectly. This sound is evident to various degrees in all the songs, most notably Hyperventilate, Black Light Machine
and the title track
However, not all the songs sound similar; No Me No You
is much darker, a little heavier and more urgent than you would expect the song that follows Hyperventilate to be (it sounds like the song that 30 Seconds To Mars
have spent their career trying to write). It shows that Frost* aren’t afraid to include their heavier influences in their sound, and they succeed in doing so. On the other hand, whilst No Me No You
featured a return to the wonderland of uplifting melodies, The Other Me
is the strangest track on the album by a long shot. The whole song reeks of industrial influence, but is insanely catchy and succeeds in being experimental as well, since the brief electronic influence fits in with the dark vibe. This song is a definite highlight with its disturbing lyrics and razor-sharp hooks. The variety that these two tracks offer is a great addition to Milliontown, since they make it a far more interesting album to hear.
Whereas No Me No You
and The Other Me
took Frost*’s sound to a totally different extremes, Snowman
takes the opposite approach to the tracks that surround it; it slows the pace down a bit and takes the guitar almost completely out of the mix, creating a soft song that adds a slightly melancholy vibe and manages to epitomize the album’s trademark style whilst also adding variety. The vocals are showcased here better than most of the other songs and really take you somewhere special.
So far, Frost*
have written a great album that would have been an easy 4/5 if they’d kept up the standard. To my immense pleasure, they didn’t. The last two songs – Black Light Machine
– make up over 50% of the album and together make up its climax. Black Light Machine
is the guitar highlight of the album, and it opens with a catchy riff with delay effects that combine perfectly with the poppy vocals at the start. The riff is kept up as the song begins to open up with a solo and everything goes smoothly. However, it is not until the song fades into ambiance and the second guitar solo comes in that it really excels. As far as the warm vibe of Milliontown is concerned, this solo is the best part of the whole album. As far as everything else is concerned, it’s all uphill from here onwards. The vocals come back in and slow things down until the songs explodes into a mindblowing four minute instrumental that totally rocks and embeds itself deep into the listener’s mind; this is a brilliant song that could have been used to end the album with a bang.
To their infinite credit, Frost* chose not to end the album with a bang, but rather to end it with an even bigger bang. Milliontown
, the title track, is one of the best epics I’ve ever heard. It opens with an ominous speech sample, which is echoed to great effect;
“Do you ever notice that in the Bible, whenever God needed to punish someone...
Make an example...
Or whenever God needed a killing...
He sent an angel"
Would you ever really want to see an angel"”
After this, the song progresses slowly through one of the strongest pieces of music ever produced; the vocals and keyboards steal the limelight, but everything else is also top-notch. It meanders its way through a variety of phases, which a less experienced band could easily have made a mess out of, but Frost* pull off Milliontown
which such power, emotion and ease that it flows together as a song effortlessly. This is the best part of an album in which each and every song is individually fantastic.
So, if you like progressive rock in any shape or form, do your best to obtain a copy of Milliontown, since it is such a quality, overlooked album that I consider to be a classic of modern prog.
gets a very high 4.5/5 (possibly to be upgraded to 5 in a few months, when I can see how timeless it really is)