Thursday, 7 March 2019

Motorpsycho - The Crucible (2019)



Country: Norway
Style: Progressive Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 15 Feb 2019
Sites: Facebook | Official Website | Wikipedia

OK, I freely admitted when reviewing the new Mythopoeic Mind album that I'm no expert on Norwegian prog rock but, seeking out more of this stuff, I was hardly expecting to stumble on a band who have been around since 1989 and have released a, well a metric shitload of albums. Check out their page on Wikipedia and look at all those albums and double albums, even a triple!

I have to say that I adored them immediately, because Psychotzar, the nine minute track that kicks things off, does so with a gorgeous gong. This is old school metal, very much in the Black Sabbath vein, but with an enticing psychedelic edge that especially comes into play during the quiet section. Even there, this is heavy stuff and I dug it a lot, even if there seems to be a kazoo riff that kicks in seven minutes into the song? I presume that it's not a kazoo riff but, whatever it is, I love it!

Amazingly, Psychotzar is the shortest track to be found here because it's quite clear that the reason Motorpsycho have made so many double albums is that they write long songs.

Lux Aeterna, which runs just shy of eleven minutes, has folky bookends and it sounds like there's a flute and a saxophone behind the rumbling bass and drums that are just aching to erupt. This one builds very nicely until the fantastic pause five minutes in that allows the band to break into acid jazz territory with the sax getting notably wild. It doesn't reach the levels of sheer insanity that John Zorn favours, but it comes closer than anything I can name. This all reminded me of early King Crimson, and that's never a bad comparison to be able to make.

And that leaves us just one to go, the title track, which runs over twenty minutes because at least five are taken up with a routine (but very nice) prog rock intro that eventually finds a Yes vibe once it gets going, with a prowling bass and a set of questioning themes. The middle section is rather experimental, if not as out there as its equivalent one track earlier, and it's grounded by a hypnotic underlying riff.

One warning I should throw out here is that at points, the title track gets really quiet and I mean REALLY quiet. I had this album turned up loud but I could still hardly hear the quiet sections.

Now, I loved the first two tracks. Motorpsycho may wear their most obvious influences on their sleeves but these tracks are consistent enough to work together on an album like this. The band had already sold me on their name, given that they, like a few others, sourced it from Russ Meyer, but they sold me on their music here too.

I didn't like The Crucible remotely as much, which is a shame because it's over half the album, but I didn't dislike it. It just seemed too long and indulgent and yeah, I know I'm talking about a prog rock band here who have obvious King Crimson, Genesis and Yes influences. It could easily have lost a quarter, even half its running time, without changing its impact. And an approach like that would have left room for another track.

Two 8/10 tracks and one 6/10 that's as long as those two put together means that I need to split the difference, I guess, and go with a 7/10. I'm eager to dip into Motorpsycho's back catalogue and see what wonders can be found. This is just an introduction to me and I'm very thankful for it.

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