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KingBathmat - Truth Button CD (album) cover

TRUTH BUTTON

KingBathmat

Psychedelic/Space Rock


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Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Truth Button' - KingBathmat (7/10)

In the modern scheme of progressive music, alternative rock now plays as much of a popular influence on the scene as do the style's traditional draws of classical and jazz music. Among other greats, Porcupine Tree, The Mars Volta and Radiohead are some of the best known groups keeping progressive rock up to date and with the times. KingBathmat (a name as odd as any you're bound to come across) aligns themselves with this forward thinking trend in progressive rock. Although their arrangements occasionally tip the hat towards the genre's original legends, "Truth Button" is a solid fusion of prog and alt rock. The two halves are given equal credence and proportion in the style, and though KingBathmat have left room for further improvement on this album, it's rare to hear such a smooth combination of the old and the new.

Although progressive rock is the heart and soul of "Truth Button", I was surprised to hear such a heavy grunge sound at play here. Yes, grunge, the celebration of everything opposite of the traditional progging spirit. Although the two schools are in direct conflict on paper, KingBathmat makes the two work together. Although a modern rock sounds pervades the songwriting, much of the strictly grungy vibe on "Truth Button" is confined to the guitar tones, which retain a crisp clarity in the production in spite of the fuzzy textures. Although progressive rock is certainly no stranger to loud guitars, the riff-oriented nature of KingBathmat is incredibly overt. Although the song structures ultimately favour the sort of complexity and longform structures that so often appear in progressive music, many of these riffs are the sort of thing you might hear on a modern radio rock single. This balance between accessible and proggy elements largely defines what frontman John Bassett and co. have done on "Truth Button".

Adding upon the hard rock foundation, KingBathmat layers their sound with spacey effects and vintage keyboard licks. Particularly on the gorgeous extended instrumental segment of "The End of Evolution", the way these synths have been incorporated into the sound are incredibly effective, although these elements are used decidedly less than they could have been. Although these songs tend to reach for the infamous ten minute mark, they are each based around melodies that you'll likely find yourself humming along to by second spin. Although John's vocals are not particularly skilled from a technical perspective (his harmonies often run flat), he has a welcome warmth and sincerity to his voice, and a slightly nasal quality that works well with the band's alternative rock roots. Although the addition of the synths do alot to flesh out their mix, "Truth Button"s purely rock-oriented moments feel a little barebones. Although the tone of the guitar is rich, it generally feels too highly mixed. I get the impression that KingBathmat were trying to get the feeling of a raw, live performance across in the recording, the loudness of the album mix tends to distract from the more subtle details.

"Truth Button" is a solid exclamation that progressive rock can be accessible and even catchy. KingBathmat bring a strong set of compositions to this latest album, although their most promising progressive elements feel underused. In any case, KingBathmat successfully translate the progressive mentality onto the modern sound of rock, and that sort of thinking is something we need more of in the years to come.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#879466)
Posted Thursday, December 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
Muzikman
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars KingBathmat are an independent progressive rock band, hailing from Hastings in England. Initially started by singer/songwriter John Bassett, the band have now independently released five albums to date Son of a Nun (2003), Crowning Glory (2004), Fantastic Freak Show Carnival (2005), which was my introduction to the band, Blue Sea, Black Heart (2008) and Gravity Field (2009). The 4 piece band comprises of John Bassett (bass, vocals), David Georgiou (keyboards), Lee Sulsh (guitar) and Bernie Smirnoff (drums).

Their sixth studio release is Truth Button and it sounds like another fantastic combination of rock, prog and psychedelic treats. This being the third release I have covered, I anticipated yet another rockin' adventure of sorts. I was not disappointed.

Based on what I have heard since 2005, Truth Button has more guitar heavy moments than any release yet thanks to Lee Sulsh. It is a very welcome sound for these ears. The band's ability to mix the harder and softer aspects together in one song is what will win you over. The switching back and forth and sudden time changes are what define it as a progressive work of art. For instance, the opening track 'Behind the Wall,' comes out rocking hard and was a good choice to set the overall energy and tone of the album. 'Book of Faces' is a prime example of the switching up from heavy and dark segments over to more airy light parts that change the entire direction of the track. This is the most intriguing aspect of KingBathmat. 'The End of Evolution' is more of what I have come to expect from this band, with my own familiarity of the music already locked in, it clicked in instantly. This is the KingBathmat sound that got me interested right from the start. The rocking melodic guitars, driving layered keyboards and a locomotive bottom end are what come together seamlessly to create their own special sound. The keys in particular add a lot of flavor to the tracks, with sounds varying from sounding like early Yes to equal parts menacing Phantom of the Opera organ flourishes. It's all quite interesting and fits each section of every track like it is supposed to be there.

As the album played on I found it increasingly difficult to choose what was the defining moment or what the magnum opus of the collection was. Every track is quality and prog rock at its finest. John Bassett is still the driving force and 'voice' of the band and it his vocalizations that put a unique stamp on the KingBathmat sound.

'Dives And Pauper' certainly has its moments as well, rock goes into hyper drive on this one, and they never take their foot off the gas. This band could be anything they want to be with all the talent at their disposal and the variety of sound they can offer up in one track is very impressive.

With 6 tracks (4 bonus tracks on the digital release that I did not have the pleasure to hear) of prog complexities coming at you there is a lot to ingest and appreciate if you happen to be a discerning listener that likes something different at every turn. I think you are bound to find what you desire with Truth Button, just push start. This is an excellent album with true talent showcased in every song. A can't miss prog rock classic perhaps? In my estimation'yes.

Key Tracks: Behind The Wall, Book of Faces, Dives And Pauper

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Send comments to Muzikman (BETA) | Report this review (#897017)
Posted Monday, January 21, 2013 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Truth Button is the latest album from KingBathmat, a psychedelic-prog band with a fast, heavy style of space rock reminiscent of the Bevis Frond playing hard rock. The sound of the album is raw and unpolished, and whilst the quality of the performances are quite consistent, the album offers few standout moments, giving the overall impression of a piece knocked out in a hurry without an awful lot of thought being given to polishing the compositions. The spontaneity expressed in the band's sound will doubtless appeal to some listeners so if you're into hard- edged psychedelic rock with a modern bent it's not a terrible choice, but I wouldn't throw any parades for it just yet.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#928183)
Posted Monday, March 11, 2013 | Review Permalink
ProgShine
COLLABORATOR
Errors & Omissions and Crossover Team
4 stars The new Progressive Rock! This week I've reviewed two CD's of two different bands (the other one being Half Past Four) that show how Progressive Rock can go forward and yet, looking into the past, with style and originality.

KingBathmat is an English band and Truth Button (2012) is their 6th album. And it seems that the Alternative Rock really plays an important role in today's Prog music, cause we see it more and more in 00's groups. The band recorded the album with a quartet this time: John Bassett (vocals and bass), Lee Sulsh (guitars), Bernie Smirnoff (drums) and David Georgiou (keyboards).

Initially released in June of 2012 independently by the band, Truth Button (2012) was re-released later in January 2013 by StereoHead Records and it is a 'weird' collection of 6 tracks in almost 50 minutes. Why weird? Because the band achieved a fusion of different styles inside Progressive Rock like Alternative Rock, Psychedelia, Experimental Rock and even? Grunge!?!

Truth Button (2012) is also a concept album, it deals with an underlying theme of technophobia and social disconnection due to the ever-growing trivial use of modern technology of our times.

The opening track 'Behind The Wall' has all the guitars from the 90's Alternative Rock but mixed with melodic passages while the second one 'Abintra' is very heavy with a doom feeling and very weird vocals. While the two first tracks were a bit more on the heavy side, 'Book Of Faces' is more Prog in the common sense, at least in the first minutes. Then it becomes a healthy mess.

In the 'second part' of the album we have 'The End Of Evolution' with a few 'modern' touches and for me a low point on the album. 'Dives And Pauper' return with the KingBathmat sound and the epic titled 'Coming To Terms With Mortality In The Face Of Insurmountable Odds' closes the album in high style.

KingBathmat is not so easy to digest and at the same time catchy and full of good melodies. It takes some time to get used to John Bassett vocals too, but as soon as you do Truth Button (2012) comes very natural to the ears. Sometimes the tracks may seem a bit too long but it changes with a few listens. The band proves that it is possible nowadays to be experimental and drink heavy doses of Progressive Rock but at the same time have Heavy Guitars, a tight Rock n' Roll sound borrowed from the 90's and lots of singable melodies.

Truth Button (2012) is a proof that experience acquired after 6 albums and 10 years of playing and not being afraid of trying new approaches can give you big and beautiful fruits on your tree. In KingBathmat case this fruit is Truth Button (2012).

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Send comments to ProgShine (BETA) | Report this review (#941695)
Posted Wednesday, April 10, 2013 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
4 stars It has been quite some time since I last heard anything from these guys. In fact, when the only other album of theirs I have heard, 'Fantastic Freak Show Carnival', came out in 2005 the band was just one guy, multi-instrumentalist John Bassett, but these days it is a genuine four piece with John providing guitars and vocals, David Georgiou (keyboards), Rob Watts (bass) and Bernie Smirnoff (drums). They are particularly proud that reviewers find it almost impossible to properly describe their music, and just listening to this the very first time, the one thing I was very sure of was that I really liked it. How to put those feelings into words for others to understand who hadn't heard the album was a little more problematic however. The album is basically the bringing together of hard rock and neo-prog, and with that as a basis there are plenty of art rock, alt rock and even psychedelic influences so that as the listener moves through the album one is never really sure of what is coming next, which in turn is one of its' great joys.

It is a timeless album, almost as much at home in the late Sixties as it is in the current day, refusing to sit in just one space but instead bringing together a cornucopia of sounds and ideas in a way that is somehow always accessible, and never hard work. True, it can go from keyboard led to fuzzed guitar and bass at a drop of a hat as they move happily from one genre and style to another within the same song, but it always maintains a sincerity and conviction that carries it through. Whereas some albums tend to drift, this has a focus and intensity that means that the listener feels compelled to keep coming back to it time and again.

The one annoyance I have with this album is that between the last one I heard and this one is that there have been two others, and thanks to this I now need to go back and see what they are like as well. If you have never come across these guys then you owe it to yourself to go and do so now. And if you ever wondered what Black Sabbath would sound like if they were crossed with 10CC then play "Book Of Faces" and wonder no more. www.kingbathmat.com

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Send comments to kev rowland (BETA) | Report this review (#965372)
Posted Sunday, May 26, 2013 | Review Permalink

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