Frost* - Milliontown (English version)

Kev Rowland

ImageThis is a new band that has been put together by Jem Godfrey, and while this may appear to many to be his first foray into progressive music he has actually been around for quite a while. He formed Freefall back in 1986, and only eight weeks later they opened for IQ. Over the years they supported the likes of Galahad, Ark and Geoff Mann, but although they had three independent releases they never hit the heights and they called it a day in 1991. That didn’t stop his interest in music and more recently has been working on more profitable areas. So far he has successfully co-composed and co-produced pop hits, e.g. for Atomic Kitten, whose number one hit sold over two million copies alone. Apart from that he worked for Blue, Ronan Keating, Lulu and Samantha Mumba as well as scoring further chart success with Holly Vallance (“Kiss Kiss”), Atomic Kitten and Shane Ward (winner of the talent show “X-Factor”). When he decided that he needed something a little more stretching he bought a load of prog CDs and started looking for musicians. The result is that Andy Edwards and John Jowitt of IQ provide the hard hitting rhythm section, with guitarist John Mitchell (Arena, Kino etc) also in tow. JJ and John have always enjoyed playing together, reliving their Arena days, and it shows. Jem must have opened for JJ, either in Ark or IQ (or both), and has relived some of those Freefall days by asking John Boyes to also guest on guitars.

What I didn’t expect at all was the complexity and sheer brilliance of opener “Hyperventilate”. It starts almost dreamily, with sounds evocative of native American flutes before the piano tinkles in gently. Gradually Jem expands the music, playing up and down the keyboards in a gentle introduction, until a repeated sequence starts to take prominence. This builds until John comes crashing in with guitars following the same pattern then all hell breaks loose and it is off and devil take the hindmost. This is a soaring climatic instrumental with guitars and keyboards swapping roles while Andy and JJ provide total rock support. Just when you think that there can’t be anymore the songs lifts, turns and then implodes on itself and falls back to piano and then it is off again. At the end of this song I was already in awe – could this be the best prog debut since Spock’s Beard? The other songs show a more structured side to the band, but one that is very hard hitting and riff hungry. This is a style of music that could probably be called prog metal, but it is far removed from Threshold as the melodies are stronger and this is packed full of hooks and is totally infectious. Jem may have written all of the material but he has surrounded himself with guys that know how to deliver, and the result is an album that may only be six songs long but this is sheer quality. If ever you doubted that the British prog scene could kick out something new and exciting then you should know that this is just incredible.              
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