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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Out of the fjords of the Great North (hailing from Trondheim) comes a gang of three Vikings and they made a remarked debut in metal circles, despite being atypical. A guitar-driven power trio where the leader is definitely the singing bassist Saether, who writes most of the tracks, but obviously Ryan's guitars are just as essential to the band's sound. Although the artwork induces a psychedelic illusion, the music is definitely leaning to more metallic fields, even if some tracks are obviously aiming at Hendrix - the 8-mins+ Hogwash is a killer track, even if a little too derivative, this despite semi-hardcore vocals and also the only song to feature added keyboards (Hammond organ for that matter) by an external help..

The band develops some ambiances, most notably during the intros of the songs before having Ryan's brutal guitars sweeping away whatever finesse they might have induced. This is especially true for Frances and its follow-up Wasted, where the guitar is backed-up by a huge binary rhythm. And to crown it all up, the almost-12minsTFC track that closes the albums, is a slow starter, but once the crushing guitar is rolling in, the track shows its hardcore metal heart, even if the first verse is sung in a slower break, but the heart of the song is steel-made. Definitely a good but not particularly proggy start to one of the longer lasting Scandinavian metal bands.

Report this review (#278643)
Posted Tuesday, April 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Lobotomizer is Motorpsycho's first album. The band played a dirty, raw and noisy kind of grunge in those days and would fit in perfectly between the Melvin's Houdini and Monster Magnet's first album. For PA, it's a most awkward title obviously, but on the other hand it's not more or less Prog then Monster Magnet's or Hawkwind's old albums.

The album boasts a dirty production that perfectly fits this kind of music: very alive, rocking and 'garage'. The opener is misleadingly gentle but it's not your typical soft intro. Motorpsycho has tried their hands at almost everything throughout their career and the dreamy opening track is certainly no surprise once you get to know them. The remainder of the album consists of rough grunge, not the slick Pearl Jam extraction but the grinding and filthy type. The band takes plenty of time for an occasional psychedelic jam and with Frances there's even a guitar-rock song, sounding like Sonic Youth in a particularly brash mood.

If I need something to kick off from melody-overkill, this dirty kind of grunge rock will perfectly suit that purpose for me. Lobotomizer is an excellent album but since Motorpsycho had much better in store, they won't get away with 4 stars this easily. 3.5 for sure!

Report this review (#299157)
Posted Tuesday, September 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Lobotomizer" is the debut full-length studio album by Norwegian hard rock act Motorpsycho. The album was released through Voices of Wonder in 1991. Initially in a limited amount of 1000 copies on vinyl and then in 1992 the album was released on CD.

The music style on the album is rather eclectic and the band incorporate everything from hard rock, heavy/thrash metal, stoner/sludge and industrial metal to the mix. While I realise I mention a lot of metal sub genres here, I wouldn´t really call much of the music metal. I´d call it metal tinged hard rock. It´s artists like Soundgarden and when the band are most heavy, like they are on tracks like "Hogwash" (which on a sidenote also feature a longer psychadelic rock tinged guitar solo) and especially "Wasted", an act like The Melvins that I´m reminded of. The industrial rock/metal influence is heard in the heavy, noisy and repetitive "Home of the Brave". I probably shouldn´t have mentioned thrash metal as an influence, as it´s such a small part of the band´s sound, but try listening to the opening riff on "Grinder" and tell me that´s not a thrashy riff right there.

For the time the sound production is pretty well sounding, but it´s a bit dated listening to the album with the ears of today. Had the album featured a more "timeless" sound production the music would probably have functioned even better than it already does.

...because overall "Lobotomizer" is quite a raw, well played and for the most part well written debut album by Motorpsycho. It should be mentioned that the band are a three-piece and that they employ "regular" rock instrumentation of bass, guitar, drums and vocals. Nothing too fancy, just pure raw rock´n´roll energy. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is warranted.

Report this review (#1246881)
Posted Wednesday, August 13, 2014 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
3 stars MOTORPSYCHO is one of Norway's most prolific and diverse sounding bands having racked up much critical acclaim for their ambitious stream of never-ending albums that feature genre-blending stylistic approaches and are most recognized in the world of progressive rock. However in the beginning when the band was founded by vocalist / bassist Bent Saether, guitarist / vocalist Hans Magnus Ryan and original drummer Kjell Runar Jensaen, the band was firmly grounded in the alternative heavy metal and grunge that was taking over the world in the early 90s. After a couple of warm-up demos, MOTORPSYCHO made their debut in 1991 with LOBOTOMIZER which found the band at their rawest, least progressive and as the cover suggests rooted in a stoner-tinged psychedelia or more appropriately called stoner metal.

LOBOTOMIZER fits somewhere in the murky area between hard rock, grunge and alternative metal. Most resembling Soundgarden in their earliest years with heavily distorted down-tuned guitar riffing, chunky bass and that now famous grungy drum along stylistic percussive drive, MOTORPSYCHO also exhibit a heavy speedy drive that keeps the music churning along with only a couple tracks like "Wasted" and "Eternity" slowing things down a few notches. While the heavy rock still retains a rather bluesy compositional approach not dissimilar to Alice In Chains, Melvins or Monster Magnet, the band was already a little more sophisticated than the average grunge band even at the very beginning with more dynamic compositional approaches that were displaying progressive tendencies albeit unfulfilled.

While most of LOBOTIMIZER is on hard rock overdrive, "Eternity" stands out as one of their most psychedelic offerings with lush acoustic guitar strumming, electronic swirling effects reminding me a bit of Hawkwind and more tripped out electric guitar antics. "Hogwash," one of their crowd favorites in live performances extends over eight minutes and provides a cool psychedelic jam that utilizes a heavily distorted guitar groove and Geir Nilsen's guest appearance on Hammond organ bringing a veritable 60s vibe to the table. The best and most accomplished track is reserved as the the closer with the near twelve minute "TFC" which takes both aspects of heavy grungy rock and psychedelia and churns out a lengthy mind bending trip into the alternative promised land with all kinds of Krautrock-ish freakouts thus flaunting their freak flag creds.

While LOBOTOMIZER is heavily steeped in the early 90s regalia of grunge and alternative metal, it's clear in retrospect albeit probably not at the time that MOTORPSYCHO was more sophisticated than the average grunge band on the block. Snuck into the mix was the use of violins and other sound affects to augment the trippiness effect and the interesting mixes themselves evoked an extreme sense of thoughtfulness absent from the major players of the day. While MOTORPSYCHO would score big in their native Norway all throughout their alternative 90s years, success would escape their clutches on a global scale. Although LOBOTOMIZER is often ranked as the band's weakest effort, i find this to be a truly satisfying slice of early 90s alternative metal / grunge that offers a lot more sophistication than the average Nirvana album for sure. Will Saether's vocal antics evoke the 90s, Ryan's guitar feedback and fuzz just as easily bring the 60s to the forefront. Perhaps not their best but not one to be skipped either.

3.5 but rounded down

Report this review (#1937870)
Posted Saturday, June 9, 2018 | Review Permalink
3 stars One of my favorite bands to have ever come out of the progressive rock scene has to be Motorpsycho. I, the thing I love about Motorpsycho is that, for one, they are consistently good in their studio works, and for two, they always try something new. No album of theirs is entirely the same as the last, making going through their discography both rewarding, and very interesting. One second you are hearing an indie rock album with some psychedelic flavors to straight-up intense jazz-rock that is all over the place. I think within their big sea of albums that so far has been a yearly occasion, the band has struck all the right notes for a progressive rock fan of mine with most of their albums. Even the albums I would consider to be their worst still have something enjoyable to them, whether it's a theme, a song, or just the energy they put into the music. They started their long and expansive career in the early 90s. Around this time the whole new wave movement of the 80s died down a bit, heavy metal was starting to change a bit from the hair and glam scenes to the more intense and technical scenes, hip hop got out of its infancy with more mature lyric craftings that paved the way for the hip hop we see today, and rock music started to get darker with genres like grunge and stoner rock having a firm grasp on the genre with bands like Nirvana or Soundgarden issuing a new wave of more gritty and rough music that have some routes in the psychedelic rock and garage rock of the 60s to late 70s. With that, we get into Motorpsycho's first studio album, a stoner rock/grunge work called Lobotomizer.

The title track for the album starts it all off with a 1-minute experimental melody. This is one of the shortest songs in the Motorpsycho discography, and with it comes a very strange factor to it. I do not think the song is particularly good, but the fact the album starts with this song as a kickstart to the long career of Motorpsycho is quite interesting. Not a particular fan of this song, but with it we get a start to something good.

The first real song is Grinder, which is a more grunge track, in fact probably the most grunge song they have made in their career. A lot of heavy chords with intense drumming and yelling. You can feel a sense of weight and power, and with it, you feel the band's early gears start turning. This is their true startup with this song creating a new sense of heavyweight music that was not seen before. This goes for most Grunge acts but I think Motorpsycho here did try to be more than just power in the music. You can feel the band trying something out that hasn't been done in the grunge scene prior, and that was to implement a bit more psychedelic music into their workings. While imperfect at this stage of their career, the factors that would define them are here in some primordial form.

We get those early implications with Hogwash. It is rough around the edges, but you get stuff that not a lot of grunge acts have pulled, and that is a simple but well-worth inclusion of some keyboards. They work well backing up the heavy sounds the band is creating, but due to how new it all feels in comparison with bands like Nirvana or Alice In Chains, who probably would've thought the idea of using keys in their music would be dumb goes to prove the value Motorpsycho can create. Even in this early point of who they were, they were trying new things and trying to be themselves while also being inspired by the songs around them. Well crafted and very great music on here.

However, as we start to see up until this point they start to mingle with other genres, namely stoner rock. The slow- moving genre that defines expectations for me, we get that in spades in Home of the Brave. This intense, powerful, and grueling song just whips you around after experiencing those more fast pace grunge tracks. Probably the most extreme song on here, we get those beautiful slow-moving beats combined with that intense guitar. It just builds upon itself as it sends you into a spiral of crisp sounds that make you wash away in the sounds expressed here. It feels like a trip that took a turn for the worse, and I think that is a great way to describe this song. While the first few songs feel very heavy, this song just cranks the heaviness way up. It works extremely well for what the band wants to pull.

Though I will say after Home of the Brave the band would start to get a little more washed up with the next songs, starting with Frances. For me, this song is great in its instrumentation. Loud noisy guitars with greeting drumming are a treat to behold. It's the vocals I have a problem with, and it's for two reasons. The first reason is that the softer vocal harmonies do not fit with hard-rocking music. It feels like the vocals and instruments are from two different songs. The second reason is that they do not sound like they are singing with the music. Rule of thumb for anyone getting into singing, sing with the music, it helps a lot. Do not do what is going on in this song, because quite frankly this is rough, and while that is to be expected, even some of the first albums by some of the first rock artists in history do a better job at singing with their music than this song here. In one respect it is a good song, on another, it is pretty bad.

We get back into some more of that grunge form with Wasted. I'll keep it pretty brief since I feel like if I talk about it I will repeat what I said on Grinder. If you liked the first few songs on this album, you'll like Wasted. It's a good song.

The next song is a 2-minute experimental collage called Eternity. Think of the title track except for slightly longer and a lot more avant-garde. It is just a mess of sounds, and honestly, I do not care for this track. It is just there to increase the run time of the album, and while I do give it an A for some effort, at the end of the day it isn't all that good and very forgettable in the band's discography.

The album ends off with the band's first longer songs, that being Tfc, which I do not know if it is meant to abbreviate something. I tried looking it up and my guess is either truly fine citizen or The Filipino Channel. I do not know, and honestly, I think the band doesn't know either. This 11-minute mesh of stoner rock mixed with grunge mixed with drone and a whole other bunch of genres ends the album pretty strongly in certain areas. When it is actual music, it is very sick. It feels like you are trapped in an industrial power plant and pressed like Giles Corey on a conveyor belt, it is just that heavy. Though on other moments it goes through more weird and experimental routes, and while that is not a bad thing, sometimes it feels like filler. Drone music is added in the mix, same with harsh noise, and more general Avant Garde genres of music are tacked on to either increase the song's length or to try new things, and judging who Motorpsycho are I'd say it's the ladder. The band clearly knows what they are doing here, but I feel like what they are doing doesn't work as well as they hoped. A perfectly fine 11-minute time waster, but not the best long song they have made.

This album is equal parts great and equal parts meh. It has some great moments that helped define the band's career moving forward and allowed them to experiment within their starting days as a grunge/stoner rock band. On the other hand, it is very rough in how it is done. Some songs feel way too obtuse, and other moments feel more like filler even when I know for a fact they weren't made to be filled in as such. It is a mix of some great ideas but with a rough draft that is quite ugly to look at with albums that'd come after. It is a fine stoner rock classic but one that hasn't aged the best. If you like stoner rock, maybe give this a listen, but start with the two albums that'd come afterward, or some of their EPs first before diving into the rough chisels of an awesome band.

Report this review (#2847165)
Posted Saturday, October 22, 2022 | Review Permalink

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