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Amplifier The Octopus album cover
4.02 | 494 ratings | 15 reviews | 36% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2011

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Runner (3:38)
2. Minion's Song (5:51)
3. Interglacial Spell (6:25)
4. The Wave (7:00)
5. The Octopus (9:17)
6. Planet Of Insects (5:49)
7. White Horses At Sea / Utopian Daydream (8:55)
8. Trading Dark Matter On The Stock Exchange (11:33)

1. The Sick Rose (8:58)
2. Interstellar (10:18)
3. The Emperor (6:40)
4. Golden Ratio (5:16)
5. Fall Of The Empire (8:29)
6. Bloodtest (5:18)
7. Oscar Night / Embryo (7:44)
8. Forever And More (9:23)

Total Time 120:42

Bonus CD-EP from 2012 Media-Book edition:
- Fractal :
1. Executive (7:24)
2. The Chase (4:55)
3. Fractal (6:07)
4. Solaris (3:43)
Video - The Making Of The Octopus (26:30)

Total time 48:39

Line-up / Musicians

- Sel Balamir / guitars, vocals, producer & mixing
- Neil Mahony / bass
- Matt Brobin / drums

- Charlie Barnes / piano
- Tom Knott / trumpet
- Rose Kemp / vocals (1,4 CD2)
- Mike Vennart / backing vocals
- Claire Lemmon / backing vocals
- Denise Johnson / backing vocals
- Kemal L. Freaktide / voice of Satan

Releases information

Artwork: Jackie Howson (logo) & Paul Hallows

2xCD Self-released (2010, UK)
3xCD Self-released (2012, UK) Re-entitled "The Octopus 2.0" with a bonus CD-EP "Fractal" including 4 tracks plus 1 Video

Thanks to AgentSpork for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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AMPLIFIER The Octopus ratings distribution

(494 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(36%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(35%)
Good, but non-essential (20%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

AMPLIFIER The Octopus reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'The Octopus' - Amplifier (7/10)

When attempting to craft a truly landmark-worthy statement in music, the trend in rock music is generally to create something in excess. Be it a groundbreaking concept piece, or a sprawling double album, the formula often rests on how much ambition is involved. Such is the case of UK rock group Amplifier, with their third album, entitled 'The Octopus'. A vast output of material topping the two hour mark, Amplifier's attempt at a prog rock masterpiece is quite good, although a much more effective experience may have been insured, had the album not drawn on an hour past it's welcome.

Although many bands (particularly those within the 'progressive' scene) try their hand at double albums, few are ever able to feel quite worth the length and investment, with even the best bands letting some filler slip by into the final product. With that being said, 'The Octopus' feels like a compilation of an excellent psychedelic album and a decent alternative rock release, with the songs meshed together to give some semblance of flow. Unfortunately, while 'The Octopus' is graced with a few absolutely majestic pieces of music, the less convincing tracks give the album that much less of an excuse for being so long, leading one to believe that the band may have been better off releasing this double-disc opus as two separate albums.

With a sound that is easily associated with fellow Brits Porcupine Tree or Oceansize, Amplifier do manage to take their roots in prog and merge it with a more accessible alternative rock sound to appeal to a demographic beyond the underground progressive music circles. However, despite quite a few songs that don't sound too far from the sort of British alternative rock that has stormed the media as of late, Amplifier's fundamental influences are quite easily located in prog rock. From the first disc's soundscapish opener 'The Runner,' hurried footsteps in stereo almost immediately rings with Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side Of The Moon', and implies that the band is attempting to write something just as epic. As well, 'Interglacial Spell' carries a very Middle-Eastern undertone that is synonymous with Led Zeppelin's 'Kashmir' (incidentally from their own double album 'Physical Graffiti'). However, many of these little homages feel plainly derivative over clever, and as a result, it's as if 'The Octopus' cannot handle the pressure of holding the company of such giants.

That being said, much of the music here is quite good. The best moments are without a doubt however, the spacey, psychedelic voyages the band takes with such numbers as the title track 'The Octopus', 'Trading Dark Matter On The Stock Exchange' (graced with one of the greatest guitar solos I have heard in a while), and the final track 'Forever And More'. All in all, the first disc is quite a bit stronger than the second, although the album's sheer length does undeniably work to deter the overall enjoyment of the music.

While 'The Octopus' does not reach the echelon of the masters, Amplifier certainly demonstrates their ambition with this vast double album. At two hours long, one can expect a pretty daunting task getting into this album, but as with all good music, the songs here do grow and ferment with time, proving that while not a masterpiece, Amplifier has put just enough good things in the album to make for a great, if not truly excellent listen.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars I've made no secret for my love of this band which started for me with their 2005 EP "The Astronaut Dismantles HAL". I finally found their debut some time after that and was blown away by what I heard. It's still my favourite album from this Manchester, England trio. "Insider" the second album was great but not as good as the debut.The second album wasn't exactly a positive experience for the band as they had 3 months to write and record it for the label they were on."Octopus" is the complete oposite as the band took 3 years to complete this ambitious double album. In an interview I read recently in "Classic Rock" magazine with guitarist / vocalist Sel Balamir he tells us how he holed himself up for a year and taught himself how to finsish the record. He says he never wants to spend 3 years on a recording ever again but in the end feels it was worth it for this their magnum opus. At one point in the interview he says laughing "We're not a Prog band". It's amazing to me how the media have brainwashed a whole nation into thinking that Progressive music is lame and to stay clear. I think that attitude is starting to change thankfully but even Steven Wilson for years tried to distance himself from Prog. Now he embraces it. Some never stopped like Robert Fripp and obviously many fans of Progressive music. So okay this isn't a Prog album.You can say it it but it doesn't make it true because this is Prog people ! And it's a concept album (haha).

Sel talks about the concept. "The Octopus signifies a mechanism of existance.The whole project exists somewhere between rock music, philosophy and creative writing. Part of it's about randomness and everything descending into the entropy of information and ... it all sounds very wanky when I talk about it. That's why I wrote it all down,to make it more self-evident". They gave a 70 page hardback book with the first pre-sold 1,500 cds describing the concept.Yeah this isn't Prog at all (haha).

Anyway as far as the music goes it's fantastic but i've said it before, i'm not into concept albums, especially double concept records. Regardless this is a 4 star record but it could've been 5 stars if it was pared down to one cd with the best tracks on it. Still this is a definite highlight for 2010 and close to being a top 10 for that year. Heck maybe in time it will become a top 10 afterall there's a ton of music on here to wade through.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Some really great, though very dense (as in, 'very interesting; requiring a lot of the listener's attention') music covering nearly two hours! Wow! How luxurious would that be to be able to sit with headphones for a two hour musical journey! But, music of this calibur--production value, sound quality and compositional skill on par with the likes of PORCUPINE TREE, RIVERSIDE, ANATHEMA, PHIDEAUX and LUNATIC SOUL--may be worth it! As a matter of fact, if you're a fan of the above listed bands, you'll find a lot of sounds, riffs, and and structures to be very similar to each of those. Nice MARIUSZ DUDA-like vocals and beats throughout, lots of post-2002 PORCUPINE TREE heaviness, many of the subtleties for which PHIDEAUX is known and loved, and frequent reminders of the Post Rock feel of ANATHEMA and LUNATIC SOUL. Overall, though, I'd place thses guys--and particularly this album--in the category of 'RIVERSIDE/PORCUPINE TREE 2006;' probably better than "In Absentia" and head and shoulders with "Second Life Syndrome." Well done. No weak songs. Just . . . a lot of music. Definitely an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection.
Review by Starhammer
4 stars "This one's dedicated to Walt Disney..."

Despite being labelled on this site as a 2010 release The Octopus wasn't actually commercially available until early 2011.

The Good: This is the third studio album from the Manchester band but having heard of them I didn't really know what to expect. There are 16 tracks here, spread equally across two discs and with most clocking in at well over five minutes it is definitely a lot to digest! But like a seven course meal of the highest quality it can bring almost infinite pleasure if consumed in moderation. Full of kicking riffs and spacey soundscapes the style reminds me of both Porcupine Tree and Pink Floyd, but it is far from derivative. Each song is carefully crafted and I am surprised at how engaging some of the longer pieces are despite minimal variation, a true sign of masterful song writing. I'm not going to go through the album in detail as I'll let you explore it yourself, but if I had to pick my favourite songs it would be The Runner and The Wave from disc one, and Interstellar and Forever and More from disc two.

The Bad: Somewhat ironically its only shortcoming is its length.

The Verdict: A surprise package that I highly recommend opening.

Review by obiter
5 stars As someone who followed this band for years and was skint when it came to the special album give aways at first release ... to say i was gutted would be the understatement of the decade .. nah I would be las disappointed as Higbald as he relaxed and said: oh all those sails in the east look lovely

this is an 11 star album.

simply bands no longer do this anymore. if you're prog you must get this. tom schulz, dan fagan these guys dedicate. Beefheart. Zappa. More Dedication.

For me the closest comparator to this album is Topographic Oceans: not in sound but in sheer vision and balls.

Yes, I got the stickers, yes i got the bumf, yes i got the diatribe. but you know what ... this album bloody well deserves It is simply better prog then anything else in years.

If the first Amplifier albums could be said to nod towards commerciality (even if only with a thousand yard stare) then this one gives the bird. As far as I am aware there is no other band in Britain or Ireland getting anywhere near close to this.

Still no major deal for this awesome outfit. If I win the lottery they'll have all the studio time they want.

You will not get better prog than this in 2011.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by Warthur
3 stars Amplifier's The Octopus offers a two-album brace of space rock in the Floydian tradition blended seamlessly with more modern alternative rock influences, a seam of post-rock, and maybe a teeny tiny pinch of Genesis and Ozric Tentacles here and there. The band's debt to Pink Floyd is occasionally a leeeeeettle bit overplayed - the opening intro section lifts just a little bit from Dark Side of the Moon and the eagle-eared will pick up some lyrical references here and there - but they're still appreciably more fresh and original than your typical Pink-Floyd-and-alt-rock band like Anathema or something. This one didn't get the attention it deserved when it slipped out a couple of years ago, but hopefully that will change in the long run, though I suspect some may be turned off by the somewhat intrusive and undercooked vocals.

Latest members reviews

5 stars "The grand benchmarks against which all British progrock albums will be judged", says the opening line on the cover of the original album. Bit cheesy and exaggerative, yet not far off from the truth. First of all... double cd rambling on for two powerful hours? Yes please! The first cd takes a s ... (read more)

Report this review (#1540279) | Posted by Porcupineapple | Wednesday, March 16, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Wow, I really have no words to describe the potentiality of this album. It is impressive and powerful all the way around. All the songs have a perfect synchronicity that makes you enjoy the album totally without having the feeling of removing it from your CD player; you will wait for more and ... (read more)

Report this review (#1041157) | Posted by Memo_anathemo | Sunday, September 22, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Amplifier's third studio album The Octopus, from early 2011, is a superb album and a definitive moment in the band's career. The British trio have crafted a truly interesting and inventive album that gets better with every successive listening. Split across two eight track CDs, one white on bla ... (read more)

Report this review (#521811) | Posted by Gentlegiantprog | Monday, September 12, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars After hearing some really great things about this band and their new album The Octopus. I finally chanced upon this album at my local record store. Let me begin by saying it blew my mind on the first listen and still does after so many subsequent listenings. I will not go through a track by track ... (read more)

Report this review (#423974) | Posted by Droidmaster | Monday, March 28, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars It has been a long time coming, but "The Octopus" was definitely worth the wait. Two hours of music is never easy to pull off, but Amplifier do so with considerable flair (strangely, its predecessor feels longer at half the length). "The Octopus" takes us on a journey through space, from the ... (read more)

Report this review (#383996) | Posted by Warren | Friday, January 21, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The beginning is important in all things.... This album is by far the most adventurous effort from the band to date, and all bases from space rock to proto Black Sabbath metal via grunge to anthemic neo-stadium rock are covered. Can you label this band? Well they're not prog-metal ' la Opeth ... (read more)

Report this review (#376831) | Posted by Starless | Sunday, January 9, 2011 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Sincerely believe that this album is not for me, is an album of Psychedelic, Space Rock? I don't think, rather I found a post-prog album, I sometimes found it very monotonous, but I must admit they did a better job than his previous works, sometimes I seemed to hear a very commercial band, I ... (read more)

Report this review (#349817) | Posted by GermanZERO | Saturday, December 11, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I think I just found my top album of 2010. "The Octopus" by Amplifier is an ambitious double album sprawled across two hours of wonderful music. Now, normally I would decry the whole idea of even making a double album, as I have had a pretty bad track record when it comes to double albums in t ... (read more)

Report this review (#349552) | Posted by AgentSpork | Friday, December 10, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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