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Amplifier - The Octopus CD (album) cover

THE OCTOPUS

Amplifier

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.02 | 484 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars When you hear an excellent epic album it is apparent immediately

The enigmatic icon of the octopus logo led me to this album after seeing the logo appear in various forums and finally I have had my ears blessed with this incredible spacey music. Amplifier move from psychedelic prog passages to aggressive distorted metal blasts. The vocals are clean and come from another dimension removed from the music totally at times. They use echo effects and psych prog nuances to immediate effect. Influences must include psych prog acts as well as more recent Riverside, Anathema and Porcupine Tree. The music is always creating indelible melodies and very authoritative statements of fresh prog served up with blistering space rock. Some of this concept album is on the dark side, some expletives are heard, and at times the music is loud and overbearing but is never dull. The three musicians are tight and unrelenting on every track; Sel Balamir is the main focus on grinding and spaced out vocals; Neil Mahony is the bass engineering section and this is topped by Matt Brobin on drums. There are many guest musicians spattered throughout including some female vocalists to augment the sound.

This album is a beast running for 2 solid hours over 2 CDs. There are so many highlights on this incredible album. In no particular order, the songs that instantly lit up my mind include the 8 and a half minute 'Fall of the Empire'. This cranks along with killer riffing and strong emphasis on spacey guitars and odd time sigs. The Wave is like Hawkwind, especially the lyrics repeated, "In Another Dimension". 'Golden Ratio' generates cold atmospherics with echoed vocals and excellent phased guitar licks, using effects pedals that build to the raucous melodies. The guitar riffing is gold at time such as on the pounding guitar driven 'Interglacial Spell'. The sound is very heavy driving nails into concrete metal with ambient keyboards sustained over the top. The lead breaks are the type heard on psychedelic Hawkwind albums. 'The Emperor' is another blaster with effective and spaced out acid fuelled punctuations of sound. The heavy riff is broken by simple high pitched guitar tones. The melody is infectious with quieter passages and breaks. Belamir's vocals are excellent multitracked in places giving a vibrant full sound "over the edge of the ocean, the edge of devotion keep circling" It is a loud sound when the band go into full flight and let loose on their instruments, and it is an exciting sound.

Highlights are scattered throughout. 'Trading Dark Matter On The Stock Exchange' is an instant classic with magnificent atmospheric passages of guitar. The vocals are clearer and well performed by Balamir and it has a great melody that gets lost in layers of guitars. The lead break at the end is stellar, soaring into the stratosphere; revelling in arpeggios, and high impact melodic sweeps; absolute bliss.

'The Sick Rose' that begins the second CD has a creepy intro that reminds me of Roger Water's preternatural screams on 'Careful With That Axe Eugene'. The ambient atmospheres of keyboards generates a dark illusory peace, and a moderate pace follows with some otherworldly melodies that may remind one of Spanish or Greek music. The vocals add to this feel, then it locks into a distorted series of guitar chords. It builds over strong percussion and notable basslines with a repeated phrase "it's a life destroyed".

Also on offer on this epic work is the bass driving mini epic 'Interstellar' sounding like Led Zeppelin on acid. The time sig here is an incessant delightful off kilter motif. The melody melts into your mind and then is joined by dirty guitar distortion and some inspired harmonies. Once again this sounds like Hawkwind meets King Crimson. The unremitting riff is hypnotic and makes this one of the most memorable tracks. As soon as it starts you are met with that pulsating hammering riff and it is a pleasure to indulge within.

The concept of an octopus is prevalent in many of the tracks creating a conceptual framework. At times the music is more beauty than beast, such as on 'Minion's Song' that is piano driven, though no less dark in lyrical content than the rest; "well, catch them, catch them hold your waters, with fame and paradise not forsaken sing along to the Minion song, emerging from the jaws of each lion, treading on in a far constellation ride away on the wings of the Minion"

'Planet of Insects' has a chilling sound with multilayered keyboards and a powerful guitar grind. Sounds like Muse's guitar style in some ways with Porcupine Tree sounding vocals, though Amplifier are distinctive in style. Once again a consistent riff throbs consistently over the verses. There are some great slides down the strings on this track and it is heavy on every level. The lyrics are enigmatic; "it's all I know and ever see are your insects crawling over me" and you can interpret these any way you like. The buzzing sounds at the end add to the haunting atmospheres.

'White Horses At Sea / Utopian Daydream' is another fantastic track that is challenging and ambitious in structure. Riverside style vocals with crystalline guitar tones begin the track. Soon it builds to the mid section which consists of blasts of distortion and keyboard. There is a King Crimsonesque feel in the style of guitar finger picking also. Utopian Daydream continues quietly with otherworldly atmospheres, a sole piano plays, till we hear the voice say "excellent" that may be mistaken for Smithers from "The Simpsons" .

One last track worth mentioning is 'The Octopus' that begins with complex effects and a pulsating bassline. The melody is stunning, very stark and then Balamir's vocals alienate the soundscape further; "I never let you go" The guitars are terrific building an atmosphere of dread, though those melodies also hold a semblance of beauty. Then it builds into a swirl of chaos, with some metal guitars and a dark wall of sound. The effervescent music is present on every track, there are no filler tracks, and it keeps getting better with every listen. If you have 2 hours on hand this is one of the best ways you can spend them. Both CDs are equally powerful, some tracks will appeal more than others as always, and there are some awesome unforgettable moments that will astound, and some tracks go for too long, so not a masterpice, but on the whole this is one of the great releases of 2010/11.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |

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