It has been three years since my last post. I’m back – and that is all that needs to written about that. Moving on …
Prog rock has been making a quiet comeback this decade. I’ve waxed rapturous over Steven Wilson’s The Raven That Refused to Sing (and Other Stories) as one of 2013’s best, and really, it is one of the best prog rock albums of all times. Really, no exaggeration; if you haven’t heard it and are a fan of Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, ELP, Porcupine Tree, and latter day Opeth, this is the greater of the sum of all of those influences. He did it again last year with Hand. Cannot. Erase., which, while different, is as compelling as Raven. Hand. Cannot. Erase. has less overt nods to influences than Raven, and is more thematically structured with an overarching story. Wilson is the reigning king of today’s prog rock scene in my opinion.
My interest in Wilson led to Opeth from Damnation on, where they have shed the death metal growl for hard prog rock. 2014’s Pale Communion was outstanding, revealing a full flowering of their prog tendencies into a coherent, unique sound. It was one of my bests for that year.
But it took a strange combination of events to really awaken me to what was happening in prog music today: the tragic, untimely passing of both Keith Emerson and Chris Squire – the latter who, with Jon Anderson, was the heart of Yes; then Jon Anderson’s teaming with Roine Stolt for the marvelous Invention of Knowledge; which, in turn led me stumbling over the better Prog Report blog (www.progreport.com; and by better I mean better than this humble blog) to read the review of that release that really showed me how healthy and active prog music is today. There is a universe of bands and musicians working out there churning out some great music.
One of which is Frost*, and yes, the asterisk is part of their name. The band’s name is pronounced as just “frost” (maybe they should consider “frosterisk?”). Having read the review of their new release Falling Satellites on The Prog Report, I queued it up in Spotify and gave it a listen. And again. And again. And again.
Suffice to say, this is a killer release. I’d never heard of this group, but they encapsulate the contemporary memes of prog today. With nods to Genesis of the Duke/Invisible Touch long-songs-only era, and hints of 70’s Kansas and Styx, the tunes seamlessly blend or lead into one another forcing one to listen to the release in its entirety. The lead singer, Jem Godfrey, even sounds a little bit like Peter Gabriel at times (but more like John Wetton most of the time). However, the overall sonic impression is one with today’s harder guitar edge than those 70’s and 80’s influences, and plenty of keyboards creating a rich tapestry. The opening “First Day” and “Numbers” have the more concise pop construction one would associate with Kansas or Styx. The release really revs up the prog from the mid-point “Closer to the Sun” and on, sounding like Genesis a la Duke or “Home by the Sea/Second Home by the Sea’s” instrumental passages. It ends with the gorgeous “British Wintertime” that soars with a closing string section that builds to a lovely finale. This release has been on my playlist continuously, and is on my year’s best list already.
2016 Inside Out Music
- First Day
- Lights Out
- Closer To The Sun
- The Raging Against The Dying Of The Light Blues In 7/8
- Nice Day For It…
- Last Day
- British Wintertime
Keyboards, Vocals: Jem Godfrey
Guitars, Vocals: John Mitchell
Drums: Craig Blundell
Bass: Nathan King