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Amplifier - Amplifier CD (album) cover

AMPLIFIER

Amplifier

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.67 | 128 ratings

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Kotro
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Houston, we have a problem: this doesn't look like Space

Amplifier self-titled debut is a good, solid hard-prog album, but I must say that it doesn't really sound like a Psychedelic/Space-Rock album. The only thing space-related on this album is the theme of some songs, which doesn't really reflect on the music. The sound is actually quite metalish, mostly made of loud distorted guitar riffs and fierce drumming, contrasting with the vocals, which are far from aggressive. The pace of the playing is rather slow. The artwork was left in charge of guitar and vocals- man Sel Balamir. It is quite minimalist (as is the information on the CD), and despite being filled with photos (not a single letter in the booklet), these are not very appealing.

Amplifier has very few exciting moments, despite the strong energy of the songs. These often sound like variations on the same slow-beginning/crescendo/strong-ending song structure, which makes most tracks sound alike. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, in Amplifier's case it is a bit of a let down - to the regular progger it might appear a bit simplistic, dull or simply bland. In my case, however, the album does just enough to avoid provoking indifference (the greatest proof, to me, that an album has really failed) - there are some great tunes in here. The first three tracks, Motorhead, Airborne and Panzer, are a typical example of the band's sound. Heavy guitars and sound-effects generated by. guitars. This is one of the plusses of the album, the editing and production. Amplifier explore their instruments to the limit, opening doors to some very interesting sonic experiments.

Songs like Old Movies, Post Acid Youth and Half Life are slightly different in the way they try to escape the same structure, either being softer, more mellow tracks, or funkier, more uplifting approaches. Both Drawing Nš1 and Drawing Nš2 are pure filler to me: just apparently random noises. If these tracks are supposed to serve some concept, then I must have missed; if the band's classification is based on this, then there is something wrong with the genre. Even though they segue into the songs that follow, Neon and One Great Summer, therefore serving as some sort of introduction, they are easily forgotten and a simple waste of space. The aforementioned tracks, however, are quite the opposite: two highlights. Neon actually opens a great second half to this album. It is a good aggressive rocker followed by On/Off, one of the most remarkable power-ballads I've heard, with its delicate beginning followed by a good crescendo and a bombastic ending. Apart from Drawing Nš2, The Consultancy is the weakest link on this second half, but it is still as good as anything on the first. Drawing Nš2 opens for one great song: One Great Summer is probably the finest track in the entire album, an uplifting song with soft build-up and a powerful and emotional chorus. The album ends on a high note with UFOs, one of the longer pieces at 7:30, and one of the most deserving of the "space- rock" tag., for more than just the lyrics. It is the most accomplished piece on the album, musically speaking, with great spacey ambience conveyed by the echoing guitar work and the soundscapes in the background, and featuring some great vocals and harmonies.

As a whole, this album has some great songs, but the remaining are just innocuous, either because they are less-than-brilliant takes on the same slow-beginning/crescendo/strong-ending general song structure, or simply because they're borderline filler (something totally uncalled for on an album this length). I can't really comment on the comparison with Oceansize, as I am unfamiliar with that band. Regarding the comparison to Porcupine Tree, I can say that it quite misses the target: Amplifier is harder-sounding without being Metal, harder to grab the listener's attention and therefore perhaps harder to enjoy. After several listens, it hasn't clicked as well as I would expect. It is an album I will seldom listen, if only for great songs like Panzer, Neon, On/Off and the two final tracks.

Kotro | 3/5 |

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