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5 stars Let's start at the end it's a really good place to start.

Map of an Imaginary Place and Hymn of Aten are wonderful tracks. Characteristically Amplifier. I've compared this Manchester band to Soundgarden in previous reviews. That's not really fair. Cornell is Cornell and Amplifier have clearly found there own sound.

Sometimes bands spring at us out of nowhere. You walk out of a gig thinking wow that support was awesome. You (or at least I) have a prejudice staunchly based on ignorance, that the support will be a poor band ... time for a couple of beers and a bit of craic. How wrong I usually am. Sometimes spectacularly: I recall first seeing Tesla backing Def Leppard, Kings X backing ACDC; you know the sort of thing. Anyway, Amplifier is definitely a band that leaps out of the "yeah i'm sure they're good but y'know gotta get back to the Tool (or whatever)" and grabs you by the nads and makes you sit up & listen.

Strange Seas of Thought just hits the spot. I would love to see these guys live and wait to see at what point Matt Brobin swaps his arms over for a fresh pair.

Music is a lot like food & wine, one man's meat is another man's poison. But not Poison (now there was a band I really just did not get). I reckon with Amplifier you get the best prog rock outfit in the UK at the moment.

There are a couple of tracks I really don't get in this album: Elysian Gold and Whst is Music. But for me I remember the highlights. This album has 3 really great tracks. THat's a great ratio in my books. Maybe I'm a glass half full person but for those 3 this album should be in your collection.

Report this review (#124020)
Posted Wednesday, May 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars First of all I don't think this is nearly as good as their debut. Having said that I love the sound these guys create, all that bottom end with that dark mood. I also like the singers vocals a lot, which simply means when you add it all up this one's a winner regardless of how much better the debut is. Some feel that this band isn't very progressive. I honestly could care less about that. If they're on this site I rate them by how much I like the music, not by how proggy it is. I'm not smart enough to rate music that way.

"Gustav's Arrival" is one of the better tracks and a great way to start the album. It's actually only one of two instrumentals, so give them credit for making this the first song on here. It starts off spacey followed by some feedback then a full sound. The bass rocks in this one. Very powerful track. "O Fortuna" is faster paced but not as heavy to open. It's heavy now. Haha. Vocals a minute in. The drumming is fantastic ! This one kicks hard. "Insider" is my favourite song on the album. It opens with a nice guitar line before the power comes in. Vocals join in. Amazing sound, I love the bass. "Mongrel's Anthem" features some really crushing guitar passages. The drummer is beating the hell out of his drumkit. The vocals are especially good here. "R.I.P." is a good tune but seems to lack something.

"Strange Seas Of Thought" has this cool guitar intro as vocals and drums join in to great affect. That guitar melody returns 2 minutes in as drums pound. He cries out "Is there anybody out there !" I like this one alot. "Procedures" opens with samples of someone doing things and then they start typing as the guitar comes in and mimics the typing. Very cool sound. Riffs follow and vocals join in. Such a catchy track. "Elysian Gold" has some meaningful lyrics while the drumming dominates. Great vocals and a powerful ending. "Oort" is really a 1 1/2 minute intro for the next track. We get heavy, spacey soundscapes that end with a beat as it blends into "What Is Music ?". Vocals arrive a minute in. Nice heavy sound. "Hymn Of The Aten" opens with a brief spacey section then TOOL-like drumming comes in. This is dark and heavy as vocals arrive. Crushing sound before 2 minutes. Excellent tune. "Map Of An Imaginary Place" has this incredible low end sound, lots of bottom end. Vocals are reserved, and it settles down when he sings. Nice contrast.

Nice album.

Report this review (#179647)
Posted Friday, August 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars Amplifier - 'Insider' 2.5 stars

More or less the same.

After the remotely interesting EP prior to this album, I personally thought it would give this band some hope. All it did was make the band sound more polished, but still has the same useless grit regarding compositions. The space element is more abundant on this one but it really isn't actually integrated into the music, rather just thrown in the beginning and end of some songs, truly unappealing.

The worst is certainly not over there. With some truly retro sounds that remind me of Metallica, a band of the past, I hear a song in the style of...Greenday. Yes, Greenday, as low as a prog band can get pretty much. The lyrics on this album are also some of the worst I have heard in a long time in just about any genre, but rap of course.

This is a band that I have given a chance and probably one that I will completely forget about given time. Speaking of time, this band has been a complete waste of it. They do not merit any mention alongside bands like Porcupine Tree, Dredg or Oceansize.

Report this review (#179651)
Posted Friday, August 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Amplifier really are a very good band and well worth the listen - they have great melodies (nice vocals - not those hateful growling vocals that too many metal bands use these days), great effects (very interesting as they are all done on the guitar - though I wish they would do more than they do), and sound quite different than anything else out there. They are compared with Oceansize (great friends apparently), but I feel you should listen to them in their own right and not compare.

I really like this album, and would recommend to those who aren't Prog purists but rather to those who like alternative rock with a Spacey/ proggy feel.

If I was reviewing this in an alternative rock website I would give it 4 stars, the 3 stars is purely in terms of this website. I'm glad there are still in the Psychedelic/ Space rock section - partly because I think too many bands have been taken out of this, and also for those in this category it's always questionable whether it is true/ pure Prog - an argument which is great fun.....

Amplifier are in this unfathomable category

There are a few tracks (particularly in the middle of the album) which are OK/ fairly average - they sound like a kind of punk metal and I hope they don't stay down this path in future albums - Mongrel's Anthem, RIP, Elysian Gold and What is Music? (although this latter track has a nice Spacey start it loses it and doesn't regain it) are all moderate rock songs with a punky feel and I would rate them as 5 or 6 out of 10.

Where Amplifier excel is in their more Spacey tracks where they use more picked rhythms with occasional heavyweight thrashes + good melodies - O Fortuna, Insider, Strange Seas of Thought (although this track could do with being a minute or two shorter - a bit of a surprise statement for someone who loves lengthy tracks) are in this mould and are really good - 8 or 9 out of 10.

Also, they should add in more acousticy tracks with great melodies - the hidden track Scarecrows in the EP Astronaut Dismantles HAL was SUPERB! - Please more like this.

However, the album finishes with a bang! The last two tracks are amazingly good, an dif the whole album consisted of tracks like these then I would be considering 5 stars.

I would highly recommend getting this purely for the last 2 tracks Hymn of the Aten and Map of an Imaginary Place - if this is the future of Amplifier, then I am really excited.

SO, if you are reading - more Scarecrows amd Hymn of the Aten PLEASE!!

Report this review (#189340)
Posted Saturday, November 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
The Crow
3 stars After a wonderful first album and an equally great EP, Amplifier released this second effort called Insider!

And with the same line-up, Sel Balamir produced and composed this collection of alternative prog-rock songs with an even more saturated sound, strong drums and great bass lines. The lyrics are so philosophical as ever, with some humor always implicit on them, and the style of the band remains more or less unaltered in comparison with the first album, leaving a bit the most experimental side of the band showed in And The Astronaut Dismantles Hal.

Sadly, the album lacks a bit of variety in the long term and the compositions are also not so outstanding this time, despite a pair of truly great and inspired moments. So although Insider is a worthy follow-up of the incredible Amplifier, it's impossible not to feel a bit of disappointed after repeated listening.

Best Tracks: Gustav's Arrival (incredible instrumental opener), O Fortuna (one of Amplifier's classics and a very stimulating mixture of alternative rock, progressive structures and even country influences) and Strange Seas of Thought (great guitar riffs)

Conclusion: Insider was the confirmation that Amplifier was here to stay, showing moments of true talent with songs like O Fortuna. Sadly, in comparison with the almost perfect debut of the band this second album feels a bit repetitive, hollow and with some uninspired moments in the form of songs like the boring What is Music?

Nevertheless, it's an album that I will continue to hear in the future and a worthy addition to the very interesting Amplifier's discography.

My rating: ***

Report this review (#2108031)
Posted Tuesday, December 18, 2018 | Review Permalink

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