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PreHistoric Animals - The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter 2)

PreHistoric Animals
The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter 2)
by Ian Yeara at 13 April 2022, 6:50 AM

PREHISTORIC ANIMALS is a Progressive/Alt Rock/Metal two man band from Sweden. Last year the promo for The Magical Mystery Machine Chapter One was dropped into my lap. I had no idea what to expect from it really, but it ended up being a really catchy blend of progressive metal and alternative rock. Chapter One had this sort of raw feeling to it, not in terms of being heavy, but the songwriting seemed off the cuff and not exactly concerned with song form conventions. Chapter Two is more traditional in song forms, as well as in construction of the album as a whole. IE we have a minute and a half opener into a very catchy four and a half minute song. Chapter Two is also a lot heavier than Chapter One, taking more influence from progressive power metal bands this time.

Listening to the albums back to back helps put this album in greater context. They flow pretty well together, with Chapter Two being a lot more smooth in terms of production and sound. The vocals are much improved this time around, not that they were bad last time, just a lot more raw and less focused. This time the vocals just sound perfect, someone really lavished a lot of time and effort on them in the mixing booth. It’s interesting, the band describes themselves as being influenced by pop music, I don’t really listen to much pop music, but I’ve never heard any that has choruses as complex as this. At the heart of their sound this is what makes them fun and unique; their choruses are longer and more complicated than what I would usually expect even from a prog band. This keeps the music from being too predictable. I do think this album simplifies things a bit, but without losing what makes them special.

Musically they set the atmosphere with repetitive but absolutely gorgeous riffs, and this is the good kind of repetition so they add layers as they repeat the main riff. The rhythm section keeps the soundscape intriguing and ever present. For my fellow attention deficit people, there is always something going on whether on the surface or underneath it to grab your attention and keep it. The tone is generally upbeat with a hint of longing and melancholy, this album might be a bit darker than Chapter One, but not by much. I don't really think this album surpasses Chapter One, nothing here hooked me the way "Into Battle (Like My Father)" did. There are still some great hooks: "I am the Chosen One (And I Like it!)" probably stands out to me the most so far. "We Harvest the Souls of the Brave" is a great opener, combining aspects of the previous album with some riffs that are definitely heavier than anything off Chapter One. Tracks 4-7 unfortunately just haven't grabbed me yet. I enjoy listening to everything on this album, but they don't really insist I re-listen to them unless I'm going through the whole thing. I'm sure my feelings will change over time, but you have to release the review eventually right? The expectations game is real, the last album had me prepared for more catchy hooks and instead despite shorter track lengths we got more complex music with less emphasis on hooks.

"Pull me in" is a neat little electronic interlude basically that sets the tone and atmosphere for the last track, and these guys do seem to like saving the most epic track for last. "It's a Start, Not the End" is the longest song on the album and of course the most complex and ambitious. It succeeds in all these things and I think it's a fine ending to the album. It doesn't really seem to have a central chorus, really the hook of this song comes from the main riff. It's just not as memorable as the ending of the last album, let me get that off my chest. However it does seem like there's a lot more buried under the surface. I do appreciate that this album doesn't rely on hooks, but I also wish it was more memorable as a whole.

I find it fascinating that this album even with shorter songs and more prog/power style choruses manages to be less memorable than Chapter One. Make no mistake this is a good album and if you like this band you will enjoy this album, but I think this one takes some time to digest and fully appreciate. PREHISTORIC ANIMALS is a modern prog band that seems to have their style figured out. It's a very clean sound that alternates between simple passages with hooks and heavy and or cacophonous sections usually with a strong melody coming through the mix. These guys are really good at constructing their songs and I'm sure they will only improve with time, this is their third album I believe and this far in their career they have found their groove and I hope they stick with it.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. An Empty Space
2. We Harvest the Souls of the Brave
3. I am the Chosen One (And I Like it)
4. Ghostfires
5. Coras New Secret
6. The Protectors of the Universe
7. 2100 (New Years Eve)
8. Pull Me In
9. It's a Start, Not the End
Lineup:
Samuel Granath - Drums & Keys
Stefan Altzar - Guitar, Bass, & Vocals
Record Label: Independent
     


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