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AMPLIFIER

Amplifier

Psychedelic/Space Rock


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Amplifier Amplifier album cover
3.69 | 134 ratings | 14 reviews | 23% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 2004

Songs / Tracks Listing


1. Motorhead (6:15)
2. Airborne (8:29)
3. Panzer (7:03)
4. Old Movies (5:50)
5. Post Acid Youth (6:04)
6. Half Life (3:49)
7. Drawing No. 1 (2:09)
8. Neon (4:17)
9. On/Off (6:34)
10. The Consultancy (4:59)
11. Drawing No. 2 (2:49)
12. One great Summer (5:56)
13. UFO's (7:29)

Total Time 71:51

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians


- Sel Balamir / Guitars and vocals
- Neil Mahony / Bass
- Matt Brobin / Drums

Special Guests:

- Matt Steele / Electric piano on 4, reverse piano on 9
- Claire Lemmon / Backing vocals on 8
- Steve Lyon / Blissful virus on 11
- Mike Vennart / Backing vocals on 3 & 13
- Steve Durose / Backing vocals on 3 & 13


Releases information

Music for Nations - 2004

Thanks to king16 for the addition
and to aapatsos for the last updates
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The Astronaut Dismantles Hal by Amplifier [Music CD]The Astronaut Dismantles Hal by Amplifier [Music CD]
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AMPLIFIER Amplifier ratings distribution


3.69
(134 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(23%)
23%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(46%)
46%
Good, but non-essential (21%)
21%
Collectors/fans only (9%)
9%
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)
1%

AMPLIFIER Amplifier reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Tristan Mulders
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Amplifier - Amplifier

Amplifier is what you get when you mix haunting vocals, brilliant melodies, a lot of noise and effects and great rhythmic together; and surprisingly. it works for me!

This album is really one of a kind. The music is build up in layers and each time I listen to it I recognize different things that I previously didn't hear. It's a continuous journey through a brilliant dark musical landscape.

What amazes me most is the lack of keyboards. Sure a prog band needs to have a keyboardist, at least that's standard. But the lack of keyboard isn't a problem with this band, since they use all kinds of effects on the guitar which creates this weird soundscape, weird but beautiful at the same time.

Just get this album and you'll know what I'm going on about, it's quite hard to explain, but I'm sure that this is a band that I'll follow for a while, just to see if they can create a second album that has this type of high quality.

Oh, nice thing to know, the lead and 2nd vocalists of the also Manchester-based band OCEANSIZE, Mike Vennart and Steve Durose, are featured on the songs Panzer and UFOs as backing vocalists.

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Review by obiter
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I found this a suprising album. Not quite what I expected.

The opening tracks, Motorhead, Airborne and Panzer were heavier than I was expecting given the "spacerock" billing, but then having listed to the consultancy already it was not a complete suprise. Having said that Motorhead & Panzer as titles didn't exactly leave me expecting The Lark Ascending

So, after the opening, where are we? Enjoying a polished heavy sound which reminded me of Soundgarden. Old Movies begins and suddenly you are forced to realize that there is a lot more going on here. This is no metal band: and you get one of those joys that prog delivers more than any other genre: the "this is different" feeling, that "boy I really like this, I can't quite pin it down to a sound I already know" feeling. Post Acid maintained the challenge.

I reckon Old Movies would be a better track to have on the stream

Half-Life is a bit to cliched rock for me. I can imagine it being a live favourite. It's timing and tight stops are interesting but hvaing followed Kings X (who have really impressed me live --- that sounds so pompous, as if my view mattered, but hey, it's people like me that buy this stuff). Prog Order is restored with Neon, vocals, lyrics, thoughtful control of crescendo and soundscape take this beyond metal.

On/Off is a slow sentimental track, slow and has the obligatory metal build up at the end: sort of disappointing. Then the Consultancy: you can hear this on the Stream: opens like Queensryche, Soundgardens you: but then there is that clear understated vocal (love the mix): sufficiently different. To be honest the stream of this song is the reason I bought the album, so open doors are being pushed here: make your own mind up.

Drawing No 2 is an epic of symphonic jazz funk fusion transcending the boundaries of prog as we know it: nah it's a couple of minutes of odd sounds: Toni Iommi would be very proud.

One Great Summer is (oh cringe here it comes) one great track.it's my favourite on the album (Old Movies is a close second)... Sometimes with prog I think we can disappear so far up our own backsides that we are contemplating our navels from the inside. Here's a lovely sweep of a song with thoughtful lyrics and just the right amount of threatening growling guitar to keep it real.

UFOs returns to a more technically classically prog format: slightly more experimental, a tad of haunt, and more than a smidgeon of sci-fi. A song which mentions rainbows and Ronnie James Dio isn't in sight.

Now, having said all that. I really like this album. It's not Yes/King Crimson/Genesis or Pink Floyd but it's not 1970-77. Hindsight is 20/20. For me it's not Rush or Caravan or Hatfield or Ozric or Tull but it seems to me that this is an album you must have in your collection because like Hidria Spacefolk it crystallizes a type of music that is emerging at the moment.

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Review by Prog-jester
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I got that band after hearing so many positive things about them. LastFM recommended them as nearest related band for OCEANSIZE and other Alternative Prog. Some friends of mine claimed that they even better. Maybe I’ve begun with wrong album?

Anyway, AMP’s debut is nothing close to OCEANSIZE (except for some ‘Sizers’ back-vocals in two tracks and the fact that these bands both hail from Manchester). In fact, it’s not Prog (IMHO), it’s pretty simple groovy stoner-like Alternative Rock a-la…it’s hard to tell really, so many bands play the same stuff!!! All songs sound as if they were taken directly from jams, mainly one-riff- based, all in 4/4 (except for pre-last track), all pretty long for what they can offer, without much reason (maybe to strength the Psychedelic Effect?). In two words, take Steve Wilson and force him to sing in an average alternative trio. Besides they heavily use overdubbing additional tracks, and I doubt they’d be able to recreate their studio sound at live shows. After all, nothing terrible, pretty listenable, but I won’t recommend that band to those who believe they’re gonna be the same way awesome as PORCUPINE TREE, DREDG or OCEANSIZE - you’ll be disappointed as much as me.

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Review by Kotro
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Houston, we have a problem: this doesn't look like Space

Amplifier self-titled debut is a good, solid hard-prog album, but I must say that it doesn't really sound like a Psychedelic/Space-Rock album. The only thing space-related on this album is the theme of some songs, which doesn't really reflect on the music. The sound is actually quite metalish, mostly made of loud distorted guitar riffs and fierce drumming, contrasting with the vocals, which are far from aggressive. The pace of the playing is rather slow. The artwork was left in charge of guitar and vocals- man Sel Balamir. It is quite minimalist (as is the information on the CD), and despite being filled with photos (not a single letter in the booklet), these are not very appealing.

Amplifier has very few exciting moments, despite the strong energy of the songs. These often sound like variations on the same slow-beginning/crescendo/strong-ending song structure, which makes most tracks sound alike. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, in Amplifier's case it is a bit of a let down - to the regular progger it might appear a bit simplistic, dull or simply bland. In my case, however, the album does just enough to avoid provoking indifference (the greatest proof, to me, that an album has really failed) - there are some great tunes in here. The first three tracks, Motorhead, Airborne and Panzer, are a typical example of the band's sound. Heavy guitars and sound-effects generated by. guitars. This is one of the plusses of the album, the editing and production. Amplifier explore their instruments to the limit, opening doors to some very interesting sonic experiments.

Songs like Old Movies, Post Acid Youth and Half Life are slightly different in the way they try to escape the same structure, either being softer, more mellow tracks, or funkier, more uplifting approaches. Both Drawing Nš1 and Drawing Nš2 are pure filler to me: just apparently random noises. If these tracks are supposed to serve some concept, then I must have missed; if the band's classification is based on this, then there is something wrong with the genre. Even though they segue into the songs that follow, Neon and One Great Summer, therefore serving as some sort of introduction, they are easily forgotten and a simple waste of space. The aforementioned tracks, however, are quite the opposite: two highlights. Neon actually opens a great second half to this album. It is a good aggressive rocker followed by On/Off, one of the most remarkable power-ballads I've heard, with its delicate beginning followed by a good crescendo and a bombastic ending. Apart from Drawing Nš2, The Consultancy is the weakest link on this second half, but it is still as good as anything on the first. Drawing Nš2 opens for one great song: One Great Summer is probably the finest track in the entire album, an uplifting song with soft build-up and a powerful and emotional chorus. The album ends on a high note with UFOs, one of the longer pieces at 7:30, and one of the most deserving of the "space- rock" tag., for more than just the lyrics. It is the most accomplished piece on the album, musically speaking, with great spacey ambience conveyed by the echoing guitar work and the soundscapes in the background, and featuring some great vocals and harmonies.

As a whole, this album has some great songs, but the remaining are just innocuous, either because they are less-than-brilliant takes on the same slow-beginning/crescendo/strong-ending general song structure, or simply because they're borderline filler (something totally uncalled for on an album this length). I can't really comment on the comparison with Oceansize, as I am unfamiliar with that band. Regarding the comparison to Porcupine Tree, I can say that it quite misses the target: Amplifier is harder-sounding without being Metal, harder to grab the listener's attention and therefore perhaps harder to enjoy. After several listens, it hasn't clicked as well as I would expect. It is an album I will seldom listen, if only for great songs like Panzer, Neon, On/Off and the two final tracks.

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Review by TRoTZ
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This heavy rock debut, clearly inspired in Oceansize alternative rock, captures some of Tool's darkness and Porcupine Tree's melancholia, retaining a certain post-grunge feel. The 3 element work (guitar, bass and drums) is guided mainly by dense guitar, oscillating from distorted and psychedelic spacey passages to heavy memorable riffs. By opposite, vocalist timber is very sooth and melodic, creating a modern effective contrast like in Porcupine Tree. Globally effective, in its simplicity reaches to be a sophisticated and intriguing work, while being energetic enough to appeal to the most vibrating rock fans.

7/10 (good)

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Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars It doesn't get much better than this for my musical tastes. Heavy, melodic, powerful and dark.This is a trio ? And i thought RUSH could make a lot of noise for a trio. I have had their EP "The Astronaut Dismantles Hal" for some time now and enjoy it a lot, but this absolutely blows it out of the water with the sheer intensity and wall of sound they create. It does bring to mind some of the nineties alternative bands i used to listen to as well.

"Motorhead" opens with some scorching feedback as drums come pounding in followed by powerful doom-like wall of sound. When vocals come in the sound lightens. Check out the drumming when he's singing. It gets so heavy and chaotic 5 minutes in. "Airborne" is dark with some atmosphere. Drums arrive after a minute. The guitar starts to light it up. Vocals 2 1/2 minutes in. Love when he sings "It's time to fly" after 4 1/2 minutes, very powerful. The drumming is incredible. It's hard to believe, but it kicks into an even higher gear 6 minutes in. My God ! Talk about being overwelmed. Awesome tune. "Panzer" offers up to us more punishingly heavy music. Vocals are aggressive and emotional. Thunderous bass before 4 minutes followed by the best part of the song after 5 minutes when the guitar starts to rip it up.

"Old Movies" is slower to begin with as drums and guitar that echo create a lot of atmosphere. Vocals a minute in. It kicks in before 2 1/2 minutes. Killer sound ! This contrast continues. "Post Acid Youth" opens with some nice deep bass as drums slowly pound, and a soundscape is created by the guitar. A very alternative sounding tune. I like it ! "Neon" opens with a simple guitar line as it becomes fuller sounding rather quickly. A calm when the vocals come in. This contrast continues. "On / Off" opens with a gentle guitar melody as light drums join in. Reserved vocals follow. The chorus is so uplifting. They turn up the power before 4 minutes. Nice. The rest of the song is fantastic. Blistering guitar 5 1/2 minutes in. "The Consultancy" has such an amazing sound to it. The drumming is great. "One Great Summer" may be my favourite. There are so many good songs though. One and a half minutes in the song becomes so crushing and moving. "UFOs" is very dark to open. Tons of atmosphere. Vocals before 2 minutes. What a change before 2 1/2 minutes as it brightens and breaks me. It happens again a minute later. Love the mood 4 1/2 minutes in that is similar to the intro. A minute later a wall of guitar hits us hard. Another dark atmosphere follows.

This sounds so good turned up really loud. I'm not surprised with all the high praises throughout the music world that I read in the bio here at ProgArchives after hearing this for myself.

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Review by ProgBagel
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Amplifier - 'Amplifier' 2 stars

Prog?

At least with this album, I see no progressive tendencies so far with this band. The songs might be longer than normal rock standards, but they get their idea across in each song just as shortly, or even shorter. The psychedelic/space rock tag is also completely wrong, as this seems to be alternative metal, sometimes, just plain metal.

The one band to compare Amplifier to would be fellow hometown musicians Oceansize, who even make an appearance on backing vocals on this album. They share some similarities in sound, but I find Oceansize to be the praised older brother, while Amplifier is the reject of the family. Oceansize seems to be hitting all the right buttons to eventually become a promising act next decade while Amplifier is just regressing into oblivion.

This album doesn't have many original things going for it. A seasoned listener can hear lots of riffs that have been heard before, and a too similar vibe from the already mentioned Oceansize, Porcupine Tree, Dredg and dare I say some 90's Metallica.

The songs have littler variation of them; a track-by-track analysis would be completely ludicrous. The basis of the songs seems to be guitar oriented jams that just stay repetitive and then are polished with many overdubs. There is also little do discover upon multiple listens.

This is not something a listener will look forward too after hearing some of the brilliant alternative prog bands like Oceansize, Dredg and Mew. Dredg seems to be the band that really captured a real artistic form with their album 'El Cielo' and Oceansize continues to push the right buttons with their latest 'Frames' to be truly outstanding. Amplifier's debut was a struggle to create anything that can be considered new, but regressive to just common alternative music, maybe some dated 80's-90's metal and even the blackest depths of grunge music. Not recommended to anyone unless they just want some simple alternative music in their library.

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Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
4 stars So this band is compared to Oceansize? That is true to a certain extent, but it's kind of an improper reference. If there are similarities with Oceansize, it's because both bands are influenced by the same early 90's generation of rock bands.

Amplifier takes influences from the US alternative rock gods Sonic Youth, Jane's Addiction and Alice In Chains, as well as from the UK Manchester psychedelic scene from the same period (Jesus & Mary Chain, Catherine Wheel, Loop). Not exactly references that shout Prog, but still, these UK bands breathe Kraut-rock and I've always thought Jane's Addiction was vintage progressive rock from the second I heard Three Days!

I must not forget to thank Sinkadotentree for guiding me to this band. Their energetic and spacey rock works so much better for me then Oceansize. I wouldn't say they are better then that band, but Amplifier's catchy grunge-rock and the warm power of Sel Balamir's vocals simply makes a much stronger impact on me. On top of that, there aren't any hiccups in the songwriting. Every track adds nicely to a varied and uniformly solid release.

Highly recommended for rock fans, certainly if you're curious how an acid rock flavoured version of Alice In Chains fronted by an English vocalist would sound like.

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Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars I've heard about many comparisons made about this band: mainly OCEANSIZE and PORCUPINE TREE. What I hear in the first tracks is a connection with the Dutch 35007, instead. The heavy distorted guitar is very similar to the sound of the Dutch heavy-psych band.

The crescendo of noise on "Motorhead" is very similar to the 35007's "Tsunami", given tha main difference the fact that this song has lyrics, and when they sing they can effectively remind a bit to PT or even other heavy-prog bands.

Also "Airborne" reminds me to 35007, again the album "Liquid". This track is even more similar to "Tsunami" than the previous. It's likely a coincidence due to the fact that both the bands are making heavy psychedelic music, but listening to this song I can easily confuse Amplifier with 35007, at least until they sing as the voices are quite different, surely less Dutch...

"Panzer" has lyrics and is more similar to the debut EP of 35007. I have to say that both Amplifier and 35007 have some of Ozric Tentacles in the instrumentals.

"Old Movies" is the first non heavy song with guitar harping, slow drums and some loops. When the distorted guitar enters in the chorus they remind a bit to Porcupine Tree. However any reference is just to describe the music, the band is original enough and this is a very good song.

"Post Acid Youth" is opened by a bass solo. I remember an old Joy Division's song with similar sounds. This song has a little flavor of new wave, but I can't remove 35007 from my mind.

"Half Life" starts with a sequence of chords reminding to Beatles, just more distorted, but this song doesn't sound like anything else. It's rock, they are not inventing a new genre, but I can't think to any other artist to relate to this song. It's a good rock song coming from the past with new fresh sounds applied.

"Drawing No1" can seem Floydian but, again, listen to 35007's Liquid to find something very similar.

"Neon" is opened by a U2 like guitar and drums. Luckily they change quickly. I don't like U2 at all (I'm probably one of the few, I don't know). This song is quite dark, imagine Radiohead playing with the singer of Coldplay (for the falsetto), but paying attention to the instrumental part only will show you that it's not effectively so different from the other tracks of this album.

"On/Off" is the most Porcupine Tree song of the album in terms of vocals, but the obsessive guitar behind, even though on major chords has a Krautrock flavor.

Heavy sounds are back with "The Consultancy". In this song I see echoes of Beatles of the psychedelic period. One of the best album's tracks, very energetic.

Probably on every psychedelic album there has to be at least one song that sounds "Floydian". "Drawing No2" is the one. Bass and keyboards to setup a relaxing ambient, then sliding guitar and drums, finally some dissonant noise of a "saucerful Of Secrets" type and the gapless transition to the following track "One Great Summer". This is a song that could remind even to Mostly Autumn as well as to bands like Phideaux. I had several impressions from this song, even Hogarth's Marillion.

"UFOs" is a good closer. Psychedelic and spacey based on bass harmonics.

The overall impression is that this band pays more attention to the compositions respect to the often mentioned 35007. Their work is made more of "songs" than of "jams". This is a very promising debut, not totally psychedelic, maybe but full of good music in any case. Having rated Liquid with 4 stars I can't rate this one less. Looking forward to their more recent works.

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Review by kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This trio have been kicking up a storm in musical circles, coming across as Queens Of the Stone Age having an argument with Radiohead with Muse as referees. They have such an awesome sound which has been captured by Chris Sheldon (Foo Fighters, Feeder), so that it possible to play this at the volume it deserves. Any band that is prepared to open with song called "Motorhead" (no, not THAT song) knows that they are opening themselves for a critical pasting. The only they get away with it is by producing a distorted riff heavy slab of metal that says "come here, this is us, enjoy". They aren't afraid to mix and move, bringing in different styles in a way that Radiohead are happy to employ, but not with this sheer hard rock intensity.

To have these guys share a bill with Muse would surely be a match made in heaven, two trios both out to prove that rock and be extremely heavy yet exciting and very different to the norm at the same time. Sel's vocals are much more 'normal' than Mr Bellamy's, which does possibly give this band an edge when it comes to being accepted by the rock crowd. There is an intensity within this music, a passion that is almost frightening. Amplifier are here to mean business, with a debut album that is certainly going to get them noticed. They have already been touring with bands as diverse as Gary Numan and Deftones, and have just been out with Auf Der Maur. This is experimental metal for the modern age, and along with Funeral For A Friend they are showing that modern bands can produce great debuts in the UK.

Originally appeared in Feedback #79, May 2004

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Latest members reviews

2 stars This album is slightly reminiscent of the more recent output of porcupine tree; walking that thin line between prog metal and heavy prog, with the majority of the songs clocking in a six minutes or more, and each track displaying a decent level of internal variation. That is to say, this band ... (read more)

Report this review (#457502) | Posted by stranded_starfish | Sunday, June 05, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I totally love this. It absolutely rocks but whilst also taking you into space at the same time, and not many bands can achieve this. This is their best effort so far (although don't get me wrong - I DO really like HAL and Insider). I did own HAL and Insider before this, and I got this as an ... (read more)

Report this review (#196729) | Posted by PinkPangolin | Thursday, January 01, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A great debut album! Surprisingly this album appears to be more intersting that it seems at the first listening. I mean the first time I listened to it I thought yes good, different but I'll loose interst Well it proved me wrong! good riffs, melodies, lyrics, sound, the highlights of the album ar ... (read more)

Report this review (#168383) | Posted by fabien | Tuesday, April 22, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Often compared to Oceansize, another group from Manchester. Not without a reason, as both groups play a very guitar driven kind of prog rock. But whereas Oceansize often flirts with post-rock of questionable quality, Amplifier just rock. And they rock in a very classy way. There are couple of ... (read more)

Report this review (#72991) | Posted by silentman | Friday, March 24, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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