[PreHistoric Animals Music, 2020]
Intro: Christos Minos
The Swedish band PreHistoric Animals have released their second album, The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter One). From the album title and the story that unfolds in the lyrics, we understand that we are at the starting point of an ambitious concept album. PreHistoric Animals have now been transformed from a two-member project of Samuel Granath (keyboards, drums) and Stefan Altzar (vocals, guitar) into full band with the addition of Daniel Magdic (guitar – ec member of Pain of Salvation) and Noah Magnusson (bass) who complete the line-up. The band is now ready for ambitious journeys in the wider prog field.
A multifaceted concept album of high aesthetics
We live in “interesting times” and this was a curse for the Chinese. The pandemic exudes fear that compromises the certainties that we had maintained for years in our daily lives. That’s why the story of The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter One) may seem creepily relevant, and through the band’s fiction we can better reflect on what we experience.
Earth is now a planet in danger and salvation is found on another planet where life could possibly be supported on borrowed time as the diary of the protagonists of story reveals. A boy and a girl shoulder the task of bringing together the negative and positive features of humanity, in order to become the basis of rebirth in a new environment. They are asked to place them in a box which will become the driving force of their exit from the impending disaster. Like the box of the mythical Pandora, we speculate that this time hope will be the first to be freed from cohabitation with human suffering.
Based on this interesting story, the band creates great music and its narration becomes a very pleasant journey. Guided by the wonderful melodies, the music has elements of different decades. We can hear the synth sound of the ‘80s, pop melodies and influences from the neo-prog movement. Even metal appears in their compositions and also a strong nostalgia for the alt-rock movement of the ‘90s. The band’s music reminded me of many different things and what impressed me most was the way that these are combined. In Floogate they sound like Coheed and Cambria and 3 and these influences are not limited to this particular track.
In the title track the keys have something of the sound of OSI and the style of Kevin Moore, and as the track flows in the style of Frost* is a strong reference. The heavier What a Lucky day! and First we’ll go to Mars are quite reminiscent of their compatriots A.C.T., especially in the way the heavy parts (which have a prog metal touch) intertwine with melodies.
Most of the songs do not last more than 7 minutes and that’s enough time for the band to play prog with an increased sense of melody which can stick to the listener’s mind.
In the last and longest track, which is also my favorite, the best elements of the band parade to leave as a legacy a track that combines the past and the present, ’70s and contemporary progressive rock with some heavier moments. With this track the album finds its cornerstone and automatically gains the respect of prog fans. The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter One) can be heard by both prog rock and metal fans (at times they even reminded me of Ayreon) and in any case it’s certainly a very good record.
8 / 10
The second album of the Swedish PreHistoric Animals is one of the pleasant surprises in the field of prog metal. Basically, they walk on the fine line between modern rock (in terms of production and playing style) and metal with a strong influence from Subsignal. In short, it is a neo-prog band, but not so melancholic in its melodies. Their songs are quite different from each other, for example No Mortal Girl has Ever Seen the Light Inside has strong oriental parts on the lead guitar, What a Lucky Day has a pop mood, the title track has some djenty touches, Floodgate has a tribal aesthetic on the drums and so on. However, there is a certain homogeneity in the album that is achieved mainly by the rhythm guitar, which has minimal distortion and a characteristic syncopated playing that creates an original sound. Great idea! In my opinion, the composition that stands out is the Into Battle (Like my Father), a 10-minute track that sounds like a mix of Riverside and Gazpacho with a great bassline in the chorus and a clever alternation of rhythm that doesn’t tire the listener. The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter one) is a nice album that made me listen to it again and again. I has some weaknesses (plethora of ideas), but it has all you need to lift your spirits, especially if you feel down.
8 / 10