PreHistoric Animals – The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter One) – Album Review

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Artist: PreHistoric Animals

Album Title: The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter One)

Label: Independent Release

Date of Release: 30 September 2020

When you get a personal message from a band that you like, asking you to review their new album, it’s not an offer that’s easy to refuse. So I didn’t, and so have been digesting the new album from PreHistoric Animals for a little while in advance of writing this review.

Those that read my review of their previous record, their debut, ‘Consider It A Work Of Art’, will know that I have their performance at 2019’s ProgPower Europe to thank. Prior to this festival, I knew nothing of the Swedish band and their musical output. Now, though, I genuinely feel like I have discovered a special band, one that scratches an itch that I never really knew needed scratching. There is precious little space in the music world for the creation of unique aural ventures, but to their credit, Prehistoric Animals do create something that sounds fresh and interesting, carving their own mini-niche within the rock/metal world.

Well, the band have returned to lift the gloom that prevails for many of us as we struggle to live in a world that’s locked in an almighty battle with an invisible foe. I’m not sure whether it is deliberate, but somewhat incredibly, reality and fiction meet on ‘The Magical Mystery Machine’ (Chapter One)’, a concept album from the ambitious quartet comprised of Samuel Granath (drums and keys), Stefan Altzar (lead vocals, guitars and keys), Daniel Magdic (guitars and vocals), and Noah Magnusson (bass).

In the concept, the main protagonist and her sidekick are the only ones aware that the world is dying, and are promised a place on the ‘new’ Earth. But that’s only if she can collect all of humanity’s good and bad sides, and store then within a mysterious device contained within a box, to take to their new home, elsewhere in the universe.

Whether it’s the pandemic, war, or the threats posed by global warming, the Earth has seen better days and so the parallels are not lost on me, and many others I’m sure.

Bandpic 1

At the heart of the PreHistoric sound, is melody. Pure and simple. And, in the case of ‘The Magical Mystery Machine’, those melodies are utterly sublime; resonant, uplifting for the most part, and thoroughly engrossing. I don’t think there’s a strong argument to say that PreHistoric Animals are a metal band, but they do display some metal tendencies, such as the bruising riff that emerges early on within the opening masterpiece, entitled ‘Floodgate’. Instead, whilst labels can be utterly pointless, I’d refer to them as a progressive rock band with strong influences from AOR, to 80s rock, to pop. The chorus that’s unleashed is one of vibrancy, and is instantly hummable thanks to a killer hook and beautiful singing from Stefan Altzar.

There’s an altogether darker vibe to the title track, that incorporates moments of spoken word embellishments as it takes the listener on a intriguing journey that twists and turns with a deftness, to coincide with the journey undertaken by the character at the heart of the album’s concept.

Whilst all of the seven tracks on this record are worthy of high praise, one of my other favourites has to be the magnificent ‘First We’ll Go To Mars’. It starts with an urgency that then opens into a groovy riff, punctuated by bold electronic sounds, almost psychedelic in approach. The bass/drum-led verse allows Altzar’s vocals to take centre stage nicely and then, everything falls away except atmospheric and emotive synths over which the vocals simply beguile, full of emotion and melodic intent. I’m actually reminded slightly of Subsignal thanks to the chosen melodies and overall delivery; believe me when I say that this is a positive thing. From there, the song reveals yet more huge hooks, albeit to a heavier soundscape. The way the song ebbs and flows from introspective to bold and powerful is captivating and thoroughly addictive. This will almost certainly find its way onto  my ‘individual songs of the year’ list, and rightly so.

‘The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter One)’ may only feature seven tracks, but there’s a good 45 minutes of music to enjoy, even when one of the tracks is a sub-two-minute acoustic interlude. The closing track, ‘Into Battle (Like My Father)’ extends just beyond the ten minute mark and it is worthy of every one of its 603 seconds. Naturally, more sublime hook-laden melodies feature, but it is also fair to say that this is probably the most ‘progressive’ in terms of its structure, and the way that it flits effortlessly from idea to idea, creating with it moments of intrigue, suspense, darkness and beauty, particularly via the closing crescendo of sorts and reprise of the opening bright, breezy and bouncy guitar-led melody. You cannot fail to have a smile on your face as the final, eloquent and emotive guitar notes of the extended outro gently recede to nothingness.

As you might be able to tell, I really like this record. The music is of an incredibly high standard but in addition, it sounds great thanks to an impressive production. And it looks fabulous too; the artwork by Richard Dearing may not be my normal chosen fare, but there is no doubt that it is striking and in keeping with the album’s concept. In a nutshell then, ‘The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter One)’ is the full package, and if you enjoy rich, vibrant and intelligent music with more than a hint of originality, then you need look no further than this sophomore release from PreHistoric Animals.

The Score of Much Metal: 93%

Check out my reviews from 2020 right here:

Ihsahn – Pharos

Hinayana – Death Of The Cosmic
Oceans Of Slumber – Oceans Of Slumber
Okyr – Premorbid Intelligence
Manticora – To Live To Kill To Live
Pain Of Salvation – Panther
Vanishing Point – Dead Elysium
Unleash The Archers – Abyss
Veonity – Sorrows
Nyktophobia – What Lasts Forever
Ages – Uncrown
Awake By Design – Awake By Design
Black Crown Initiate – Violent Portraits Of Doomed Escape
Gaerea – Limbo
Buried Realm – Embodiment Of The Divine
Navian – Reset
Selenseas – The Outer Limits
Quantum – The Next Breath Of Air
Ensiferum – Thalassic
Long Distance Calling – How Do We Want To Live?
Airbag – A Day At The Beach
Re-Armed – Ignis Aeternum
Atavist – III: Absolution
Frost* – Others EP
Darker Half – If You Only Knew
Atavistia – The Winter Way
Astralborne – Eternity’s End
Centinex – Death In Pieces
Haken – Virus
Pile Of Priests – Pile Of Priests
Sorcerer – Lamenting Of The Innocent
Lesoir – Mosaic
Temnein – Tales: Of Humanity And Greed
Caligula’s Horse – Rise Radiant
…And Oceans – Cosmic World Mother
Vader – Solitude In Madness
Shrapnel – Palace For The Insane
Sinisthra – The Broad And Beaten Way
Paradise Lost – Obsidian
Naglfar – Cerecloth
Forgotten Tomb – Nihilistic Estrangement
Winterfylleth – The Reckoning Dawn
Firewind – Firewind
An Autumn For Crippled Children – All Fell Silent, Everything Went Quiet
Havok – V
Helfró – Helfró
Victoria K – Essentia
Cryptex – Once Upon A Time
Thy Despair – The Song Of Desolation
Cirith Ungol – Forever Black
Igorrr – Spirituality and Distortion
Nightwish – Human. II: Nature.
Katatonia – City Burials
Wolfheart – Wolves Of Karelia
Asenblut – Die Wilde Jagd
Nicumo – Inertia
The Black Dahlia Murder – Verminous
Omega Infinity – Solar Spectre
Symbolik – Emergence
Pure Reason Revolution – Eupnea
Irist – Order Of The Mind
Testament – Titans Of Creation
Ilium – Carcinogeist
Dawn Of Ouroboros – The Art Of Morphology
Torchia – The Coven
Novena – Eleventh Hour
Ashes Of Life – Seasons Within
Dynazty – The Dark Delight
Sutrah – Aletheia EP
Welicoruss – Siberian Heathen Horde
Myth Of I – Myth Of I
My Dying Bride – The Ghost Of Orion
Infirmum – Walls Of Sorrow
Inno – The Rain Under
Kvaen – The Funeral Pyre
Mindtech – Omnipresence
Dark Fortress – Spectres From The Old World
The Oneira – Injection
Night Crowned – Impius Viam
Dead Serenity – Beginnings EP
The Night Flight Orchestra – Aeromantic
Deadrisen – Deadrisen
Blaze Of Perdition – The Harrowing Of Hearts
Godsticks – Inescapable
Isle Of The Cross – Excelsis
Demons & Wizards – III
Vredehammer – Viperous
H.E.A.T – H.E.A.T II
Psychotic Waltz – The God-Shaped Void
Into The Open – Destination Eternity
Lunarsea – Earthling/Terrestre
Pure Wrath – The Forlorn Soldier EP
Sylosis – Cycle of Suffering
Sepultura – Quadra
Dyscordia – Delete / Rewrite
Godthrymm – Reflections
On Thorns I Lay – Threnos
God Dethroned – Illuminati
Fragment Soul – A Soul Inhabiting Two Bodies
Mariana Semkina – Sleepwalking
Mini Album Reviews: Moloken, The Driftwood Sign & Midnight
Serenity – The Last Knight
Ihsahn – Telemark EP
Temperance – Viridian
Blasphemer – The Sixth Hour
Deathwhite – Grave Image
Marko Hietala – Pyre Of The Black Heart
SWMM – Trail Of The Fallen
Into Pandemonium – Darkest Rise EP
Bonded – Rest In Violence
Serious Black – Suite 226
Darktribe – Voici L’Homme
Brothers Of Metal – Emblas Saga
A Life Divided – Echoes
Thoughts Factory – Elements

 

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

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