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Motorpsycho Motorpsycho & Ståle Storløkken: The Death Defying Unicorn album cover
4.21 | 529 ratings | 19 reviews | 37% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2012

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD 1 (41:21)
1. Out of the Woods (2:41)
2. The Hollow Lands (7:37)
3. Through the Veil (16:01)
4. Doldrums (3:07)
5. Into the Gyre (10:22)
6. Flotsam (1:33)

CD 2 (42:28)
7. Oh Proteus - A Prayer (7:35)
8. Sculls in Limbo (2:21)
9. La Lethe (7:53)
10. Oh Proteus - A Lament (1:05)
11. Sharks (7:56)
12. Mutiny! (8:33)
13. Into the Mystic (7:05)

Total Time 83:49

Line-up / Musicians

- Bent Sæther / vocals, bass, co-producer
- Hans Magnus "Snah" Ryan / guitars, vocals
- Kenneth Kapstad / drums
- Ståle Storløkken / keyboards, orchestral arrangements

- Ola Kvernberg / violin
- Kåre Vestrheim / Mellotron, gongs, Fx, co-producer

Trondheim Jazz Orchestra:
- Kjetil Traavik Møster / clarinet, tenor & baritone saxophones
- Hanna Paulsberg / tenor saxophone
- Klaus Ellerhusen Holm / alto saxophone
- Andre Roligheten / tenor saxophone, bass clarinet
- Mathias Eick / trumpet
- Eivind Nordseth Lønning / trumpet
- Mats Äleklint / trombone
- Kristoffer Kompen / trombone

- Daniel Turcina / violin
- Åse Våg Aaknes / violin
- Sigrid Stang / violin
- Stina Andersson / violin
- Frøydis Tøsse / viola
- Lars Marius Hølås / viola
- Marianne Lie / cello
- Tabita Berglund / cello

Releases information

Subtitle: A Fanciful And Fairly Far-Out Musical Fable

Artwork: Kim Hiorthøy

2LP Rune Grammofon RLP3124 (2012 Norway)
2CD Rune Grammofon RCD2124 (2012 Norway)
2LP Stickman Records PSYCHOBABBLE 073 (2012 Germany)
2CD Stickman Records PSYCHOBABBLE 073 (2012 Germany)

Thanks to Starhammer for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy MOTORPSYCHO Motorpsycho & Ståle Storløkken: The Death Defying Unicorn Music

MOTORPSYCHO Motorpsycho & Ståle Storløkken: The Death Defying Unicorn ratings distribution

(529 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(37%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(35%)
Good, but non-essential (19%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

MOTORPSYCHO Motorpsycho & Ståle Storløkken: The Death Defying Unicorn reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Warthur
5 stars A wild and delirious journey through a bizarre variety of musical styles, Motorpsycho's The Death Defying Unicorn is prog brilliance. Intense instrumental workouts reminiscent of King Crimson give way to sections featuring vocals reminiscent of a much more successful version of Pure Reason Revolution's attempt at updating Pink Floyd on their debut album. Spooky passages threatening to break into space rock, zeuhl or RIO territory at any moment swirl around before coalescing into avant-fusion segments reminiscent of Frank Zappa conducting the Mahavishnu Orchestra. In fact, it's Ståle Storløkken adding some jazz sensibilities to the fabulous Motorpsycho, a potent combination which makes me want to explore the work of both further.
Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The Death Defying Unicorn reminds me somehow of THE WHO's Quadrophenia but, musically, it reminds me most of MAUDLIN OF THE WELL's 2001 Bath/Leaving Your Body Map release(s). There is about an equal mix of delicate, often orchestral (jazz and string) parts that use vocals and/or acoustic (orchestral) instruments layered and mixed into/and with long, repetitive, plodding heavy parts. The effort is ambitious and laudable I'm just not sure the outcome and effect are as laudable as my fellow reviewers are extolling.

1. "Out of the Woods" (2:41) starts the album off with an intro filled with a lot of dissonance and tension being carried out among orchestra and large horn section (the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra). (8/10)

2. "The Hollow Lands" (7:37) begins quite powerfully with some multi-layered, busy music feeling quite a bit like THE WHO's Quadrophenia and SYLVAN's Posthumous Silence. It goes on for what seems like a long time. Too long. When it quiets down and the singing/story begins there is a nice MOODY BLUES feel to it--melody, vocals and all. The bass, drum and guitar interlude at 3:45 is awesome--turning very psychedelic after the electric guitar starts to solo (and still surprisingly MOODY BLUES-like!). An all-instrument build and crescendo opens up for a return to the singing/melody part. The orchestration almost clutters/muddies it, though. Ends with orchestral segue into the next song. (9/10) 3. "Through the Veil" (16:03) begins with some percussives a la BLUE MAN GROUP and Ståle Storløkken's SUPERSILENT. The percussive groove is quickly augmented and taken over by a very full horn section. Just before the two minute mark, a powerful heavy rock groove takes over sounding like a cross between CLAPTON and HENDRIX. The vocals enter giving it a very ALICE IN CHAINS sings CROSBY, STILLS, NASH & YOUNG feel to it. The next section, beginning around the 3:40 mark, takes one on a journey as if ARANIS were playing WINGS' "Live and Let Die." THE WHO takes over with a kind of QUADROPHENIA ride from 6:50 to 10:20. Nice work from the horn section. Then a HENDRIX-like guitar riff reintroduces and accompanies the re-entry of the vocal part. At 11:33 the heavy rock parade switches gear, to a kind of STEPPENWOLF/IRON BUTTERFLY jam. But then things quiet down at 12:25, get bluesy until a psychedelic guitar riff, and distorted vocals take over for a bit with "I can never go back, never go back there" BYRDS/CSN&Y section. Awesome bass sound and lines. SYD BARRETT would love this music! (Maybe he's there: playing the guitars!) African-like drumming with electronic psychedelia guitar sounds play out till it ends with an organ leading into the next song. (8/10)

4. "Doldrums" (3:07) is kind of a modern orchestral interlude. Quiet. Like doldrums. (7/10)

5. "Into the Gyre" (10:23) ("whirlpool"?) begins with a chamber orchestra intro, wobbling (on purpose) as electronic instruments join in and take over. Very SUPERSILENT-like. Layered vocal sections takes over, sounding like it's telling a BEATLES-esque children's story. At 4:32 the song finally kicks out of park and into gear--though taking a while to establish exactly what gear that will be. I guess 'cruise.' At 6:10 the boys must hit the autobahn cuz it suddenly races into overdrive--on a busy road, at that, cuz the soloing guitar, bass, drums, horns, and keys are all racing--as if against each other: the cohesion seems a bit lost, more like reckless abandon and chaotic unpredictability. Then it stops. (A crash?) This quiet section again makes me wonder if there isn't supposed to be a visual element running along with this, so mysterious is this rather eery, almost ambient section. To end. Not my favorite song. (Nor would it be my favorite rollercoaster ride.) (6/10)

6. "Flotsam" (1:33) is almost like a solo cello's tuning session. What is going on?? Floating debris after the shipwreck? (5/10)

7. "Oh Proteus ? A Prayer" (7:35) begins with a gorgeous little string trio. Vocals and synths join at 0:45 in a very TOBY DRIVER way: chromatic singing over dissonant chords. This goes on and on, builds, Toby is joined by his usual thick guitars and bass, plodding on, trying to pretend to invite the listener in with samples of 'pretty' melody, while the music is warning you to be cautious--be very cautious! Interesting song. (7/10) 8. "Sculls in Limbo" (2:21) offers another "Silent Sorrows"/"Welcome to the Machine" intro- type moment. Space. Must be floating. Still. (6/10)

9. "La Lethe" (7:53) begins with a kind of jazzy pulsation, again TOBY DRIVER- or even ULVER-like, eventually establishing a more ULVERish Post Rock feel to it, down to the plodding, pulsing pace, wild horns playing in the background, and odd male voices 'groaning' around in the fore and background. I guess this is a very good musical representation of Hades' River Lethe. Glad I don't live or work there! Does this mean the protagonist is close to death? Great MEL COLLINS-like sax solo in the six and seventh minutes. A suspenseful pause ensues at the 6:20 mark before an AFTER CRYING-like orchestral crescendo enters and builds. Violins lead into the next song. (8/10)

10. "Oh Proteus ? A Lament" (1:05) is a multi-layered vocal in which the protagonist muses about his surroundings/fate.

11. "Sharks" (7:56) is such a murky, mysterious, yet ultimately pretty TOBY DRIVER/RADIOHEAD/RAVEL's "Bolero"-like song. It just goes on way too long. (about the same length as "Bolero"! More than a coincidence?) I especially enjoy the entrance of the brief appearance of horns at 3:15. The ensuing lyric is sung almost tongue-in-cheek, comically. Intentional irony? The sharks thrashing in the final two minutes is pretty good. (8/10)

12. "Mutiny!" (8:33) transitions from the tension of shark-infested waters into theme music from a high-octane James Bond rescue mission--or a great song left off of motW's Part the Second album. Perhaps the only song on the album with a fairly straightforward, familiar melody. Definitely a great prog/classic rock feel. An early-KING CRIMSON-like instrumental section mid-song continues to make this one feel like a keeper for the all-time playlist. (10/10)

13. "Into the Mystic" (7:05) is an amazing song with all kinds of wild voice samples and a The feel and sounds remind me of some of the harder-driving music of THE MOODY BLUES and THE HOLLIES with a hint of RICK WAKEMAN. Although it segues straight out of "Mutiny!" it starts off with an awesome violin solo from Ola Kvernberg. The WHO/MOODY BLUES-like vocal melody and JETHRO TULL acoustic guitar-part from song 2, "The Hollow Lands" returns in full force, in its awesome glory--and is later rejoined by great violin, synth, and, of course, the ubiquitous heavy bass and drums.

The final lyrics leave me a bit befuddled: I didn't really sense this dude's struggle with other men--or even much within himself--but more of the random travesties of nature (both Mother and human). Eh?

A masterpiece, IMHO, is something that either offers something new mentally, sonically/aurally, or compositionally--something that could have an impact on other musicians and perhaps on the course of music history (of which, of course, only time can be the judge) OR it is music that offers the listener a package that is so enthralling, so emotionally engaging, that it keeps drawing you back again and again over time. Though I've owned Death Defying Unicorn for a while now I have had trouble A) listening to the entirety in a single sitting and B) feeling drawn in enough to want sit through the whole thing --especially the epics "Through the Veil" and "Into the Gyre." The songs seem to go on longer than I can stay connected. Even the 'shorter' songs, "Hollow Lands" (7:37), "Oh, Proteus?A Prayer" (7:35), "La Lethe" (7:53), and "Sharks" (7:56) seem to drag on longer than they 'need' to. (Only "Mutiny!" (8:33) and "Into the Mystic" (7:05) hit on all cylinders, IMO.) Why are they so long? Why are they so tunnel driven bordering on monotonous? What is the purpose and/or value of this story (I mean, does it have valuable lessons or archetypical significance to the universal listener, or is it a myopic tale from someone's personal dream or altered state of consciousness)? Is this piece of music intended to accompany a visual display (film, slide, art gallery, ballet, or stage play)? Is this really meant to be a theatrical soundtrack? If so, it may, in fact, need to be heard in association with that other medium in order to be fully appreciated.

I have to say, however, that as a purely musical adventure it has trouble standing on its own as a "masterpiece." It is interesting and has many excellent parts and amazing compositional ideas (blending orchestra, jazz group and rock quintet to tell a 90 minute story), but it is not a piece in which the listener finds himself easily drawn into or compelled to stay within the magical spell of the music--not like Beethoven's 9th Symphony, Brahms' 2nd or 3rd, YES's "Close to the Edge", GENESIS's The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway or "Supper's Ready," MIKE OLDFIELD's Incantations, many of the master-jams from the realms of Krautrock, Space/Psychedelia or Electronica or any of the Colossus/Musea Records epics from Odyssey: The Greatest Tale. Only one song stands out as "amazing" in a way that makes me want to push repeat over and over (well, actually two: the last two--which are pretty much one song), and neither the story nor the music is so compelling as to keep me engrossed for the full length of the "play."

As adventurous as this project is, as admirable is the vision and intent, I do not find it a success at creating a timeless masterpiece of musical entrainment. I like it, I will revisit it, and I will recommend it to the hardcore prog lovers out there. On that note, I rate this with 3.5 stars: it is IMHO, less than "excellent addition to any prog rock music collection" but significantly better than "good." More like a 3.88. It is not essential to every prog listener's music collection. I would recommend it to any and all prog lovers who are drawn to explore musics that push the envelope--that offer something different and out-of-the ordinary. I truly appreciate the mastery displayed in the attempt to render this ambitious project--and that the artists themselves might feel quite satisfied and successful in their result. I merely question how well their "success" will translate into sales, referrals and a place in the history books.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars A masterpiece album of 2012.

Motorpsycho has become somewhat of a cult hit around the prog community of late hailed by many respective reviewers and collabs as album of the year so I had to indulge. Before I approached the album I had no idea what to expect, though I had heard one track on a Prog mag compilation sampler and loved that. So I put on the headphones one dark evening after midnight and let the music immerse my soul. I think I was lifted into another plane of existence as the music simply nailed me to the couch with its inexorable power. The opening hyperventilating saxophone kept lunging into spasms until finally an outbreak of dizzying orchestra blew the doors off any boundaries that may have been set in place for music convention. This is mind blowing stuff and is encased in a concept of a ship lost at sea and how the crew fight for survival against incredible odds. It moves eventually into an acoustic rhythm with beautiful flute responses and a song begins.

We have come Out of the Woods into The Hollow Lands. I am already in love with the hyper strangeness of odd rock and orchestra symphonic expulsions. I begin to realise why the album was hailed as one of the albums of 2012. It is purely progressive heaven. The way the band utilise bass and scratchy guitar on this song is incredible. This is the song I had heard on the sampler and I couldn't stop playing it. It is mesmirising. Then an awful thought hit me; that I would have to go into the album of the year thread and redo my top 10, yet again, and this will be an equal number one. This is amazing music and I don't know why it took me so long to get to it. The lyrics spell out the tale unfolding of a cabin boy as part of a ship's crew; 'It seems the order was clear, 'go see if anything's there', so our ship set sail found her course, and in a month a hundred souls slipped through the veil, to state our claim to the Hollow Lands'.

Next it is Through The Veil, a 16 minute epic that opens with scratching on a guitar or something. It is weird and delightfully avant garde. The sax reminds me of Jackson's odd chimes from 'Pawn Hearts'. It builds into a heavy fuzz guitar riff stinking of classic 70s rock and it is buried in avant sax outbursts that grind with vivacious delight. The pure invention and bold approach is captivating and never fails to impress. This is prog with the hinges hanging off the doors, not just out of the box, the box is blown clean open. It is quite unnerving in sections, with screaming violins, crescendos that blaze from nowhere and then are layered with beauty. I listened to this during a rather downbeat moment in my life and it spoke to my heart. This is so incredible, I feel even more moved emotionally than my first listen of the masterpieces of King Crimson and Van der Graaf Generator. It changes time sig at 5:50 and motors along with staccato sax, and out of sync guitar that floods through and germinates into spasmodic fireballs of anger.

The lyrics unfold the amazing tale; 'Something fills the air, it's all around us, as striking as a bolt out of the blue, the impact's nearly rendered us unconscious, laid a mist upon the crew'. It feels aggressive and unfriendly but it is such a refreshing soundscape, the way prog should be, not the poor excuses of prog bands that commercialise everything they put their hand to. To heck with commercial, Motorpsycho are the real deal and are full on proglords. The vocals are like Hawkwind and the guitars are like Led Zeppelin or Budgie tuned down; it has a distinct 70s sound, that was captured by Opeth on 'Heritage'. At 11:50 the song takes a detour into pure sonic violence with a freakout psychedelic lead break over a cacophony of brass noise. Then it moves into a spacey reverberating voice effect akin to Camel or Led Zeppelin's most psychedelic vocal work. The way the sax riff locks in and allows the other musicians to commit jazzerside over the scape is an astonishing achievement; this is the beauty of the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra and Trondheimssolistene. I love how this music is not designed for the squeamish, and how it would cause the average music listener to switch off; this is prog dammit!

Doldrums is next, much shorter at 3:07, but no less inventive, glistening with off kilter brass and downright chilling musical figures, like an orchestra in its most rebellious state of mind. At this stage I had to look at who was playing this zany music; we have Bent S'ther on vocals, bass, Hans Magnus Ryan on vocals, guitars, Kenneth Kapstad on drums, and Staale Storl'kken on keyboards. They are an incredible unit and are getting some well deserved attention with this astounding album. The Trondheim Jazz Orchestra and Trondheimssolistene are a real drawcard to this album though as they provide intense musicscapes that really augment the rock sections.

Into The Gyre is replete with beautiful violins in the opening that move into a floating flute passage. The heavenly sounds threaten to break out and yet it merges into an airy vocal instead. The music is mischievous playing with time sigs and tempo changes. I can depict a semblance of a concept more clearly that revolves around the sailors on a voyage to somewhere, who hit a snag as the ship is plummeted down.; 'Down into this sailor's tale, damned before the storm, and into the gyre we'll go, I think I feel the Maelstrom's tug, on our ship, my mind and my soul'. It builds with cymbal splashes and plucking guitar Frippisms that may represent waves crashing against the ship as it heads to a destination lashing through torrential storms. It builds ascending higher in pitch and the intensity grows until the crescendo and the fuzz guitar takes dominance with a fret melting lead break, and some dissonant violins scream violently. This is an unbelievable virtuoso performance from all concerned. It is as good as the Van der Graaf Generator outbreaks of the 70s. Then it stops and a lone guitar monotone figure is heard and some tearful alienated violin scrapes. An organ shimmers and throbs with an unnerving drone, and it has a chilling dark resonance. The image of a ship moving slowly through the fog springs into the conscious. At 2 am in the morning this is a creepy soundscape for this reviewer but I cannot stop listening intensely.

Flotsam is a short (1:33) transition style track that has a hollow minimalist violin sound that enhances the feelings of loneliness out on the water lost at sea. The raw sound is so moving, we can even hear the strings being scraped and the bow lifting off, all is mixed to the front for great effect. Then it segues into Oh Proteus - A Prayer, that features more violins with melancholy power. The voice that sings is harmonised; 'our ship is sunk in the deep forever.' It is very sad in mood and a measured performance over the mournful symphonic strings.

'We are lost in the fog directionless,' Bent S'ther sings, and then a majestic organ and violin passage builds with a powerful crescendo. Then a very deep guitar riff joins on an odd time sig as we hear of 'the desert of torment' and the words state the tale has taken a turn for the worst as the crew bravely fight for survival now their ship is lost. 'an ocean of thirst and madness, Oh, we must row ' put your weight on the oars, oh, we must pull as if everything depended on it, Let us sing a song while we bend to the task, let us set the course by the stars, and let us row and save our lives.' Again my thoughts are drawn to VDGG's 'A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers', not only the lyrics but especially the atmosphere and creepy effects made by odd musical figures.

Sculls In Limbo is an atmospheric piece with very eerie music that has a haunting resonance. La Lethe is more upbeat with a dynamic jazz fusion feel like Mahavishnu Orchestra on slow motion. It mirrors the feeling of rowing on an endless ocean, and has that ray of hope the sailors would also have at this point as food runs dry and the sea becomes a beast ready to swallow them whole. This is a powerful instrumental that has many emotional textures, it is sombre, bleak and yet strangely compelling music.

Oh Proteus - A Lament is another short piece (1:05), with doom laden lyrics; 'Something here is wrong, Still hunger is gnawing, and I feel my mind is going slowly.' Sharks (7:56) is an appropriate title as we realise the sailors are going to be eaten alive by the ferocious killers of the sea. This track moves in many directions like sharks circling as the protagonists face certain doom in the terrifying maw of the sharks. The lyrics state it clearly; 'Nothing moves but the fins of the sharks that swim, So endlessly, dark shadows that roam the deep, stalk our wake and haunt our sleep so ghastly white.' So the occupants await their turn to die, but the protagonist does not want to go quietly in the night without a fight; 'We ventured to find the hollow earth but all that we found were the hollows on our souls screaming for subsistence, gnawing, devouring, to give my life to give them their lives? Such preposterous hypocrisy I cannot abide, oh no I will not go quietly.' The lyrics are staggering in their poetic beauty and are perfectly matched by the glorious progressive jazz symphony.

Mutiny! Is a fast paced track, quite jarring after all the gentle ambience. In fact it blazes with heavy guitars chugging and brass stings. It moves into dissonant competing guitars and reverberating keyboards. It is a raucous sound emulating the trauma of the protagonists who fight for control on the boat. The lyrics speak of the mutiny 'Damn you sir, and damn your etiquette! The blood red moon has set and you're not here for long, I'm no gent, but don't take me for a fool, I serve no master and I won't obey your rules! You're a thief and taker! You're a cheat and faker!'

The noisy avant jazz settles into violins and segues to Into The Mystic. This last track wraps up the concept beautifully, opening with 70s style guitar riffs and a wonderful pulsating bassline. The violins are everpresent howling over the guitars and pounding drums. It is an accomplishment the way the musicians are able to capture so much raw emotion with the blend of rock and jazz. The protagonist tells the last part of the tale; 'It was a hopeless try, but I couldn't just lay down and die.' He has survived after 'staring death in the face' but he is now left with painful memories as 'deep into the mystic I gazed.' The music feels like a finale, the violins and flute compete nicely with a Fripp like guitar riff and there are some lovely sweeping symphonic textures. The keyboards join in and there is a wall of sound drawing the album to a close.

I can only include with the inevitable after being treated to a mesmerising musical explosion like this. The album is an undisputable masterpiece of prog and one of the must listen to albums of 2012.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In their endless pursuit to keep trying new things and taking on impossible challenges, Motorpsycho reinvented themselves for the umpteenth time. They teamed up with Stale Storlokken's jazz orchestra to deliver nothing less then an 80 minute double CD filled with catchy alt rock, psychedellica, stoner rock, prog, jazz and a film score to match. Yihaa!

A first thing to note is how well the orchestra blends in. The words 'orchestra' and 'rock album' in one and the same sentence usually send shivers down my spine, not here. The approach is quite unique with orchestral parts that somehow cross over between Prokofiev's 'Peter and the Wolf' and a steaming jazz-brass band (think Jagga Jazzist for instance). The orchestral score mixes perfectly with Motorpsycho's stoner prog. The result is dense, over the top, bombastic and completely out there, but man this orchestra rocks!

The album relies less on Motorpsycho's trademark Sabbath-y riffs. They are still there, but take second place behind the rich orchestral texture and spacey effects. 'The Hollow Lands' is a brilliant example. Some subtle flutes and acoustic guitars add to the Prog feel of the album, which is without doubt their proggiest effort so far. If that point needed further proof then the 16 minute 'Through the Veil' amply delivers as it jams out into a barely contained chaos. 'Doldrums' - 'Into the Gyre' offer some welcome calm after the 25 minute opening storm and conclude an excellent first disk.

On CD2, the calm continues for a while till 'Proteus' catches a groove around minute 4. At this point I would expect the album to look for some kind of closure but it simply keeps going, and not in the right direction as far as I'm concerned. 'Sculls in Limbo' is a fine 2 minute orchestral interlude but this far into the album it simply lulls me in limbo. The slow pace of instrumental 'La Lethe' can't wake me up neither. If anything, these tracks fulfill a self-prophecy, making me feel very close to meeting the eternal sleep indeed. 'Mutiny' is our wake-up call and delivers what Motorpsycho excel at: rock. 'Into the Mystic' reprises the riffs and melodies of the opening track. Nice but not really needed after 80 minutes. We got the idea already.

Adding an orchestra into the rock mold and not ending up being cheesy is worth an award by itself. On top the album boasts quite a number of stellar tracks. But the total listening experience suffers from lengthiness and is a letdown. For me this album takes quite some weeding in it's 3rd quarter ('Lamb Lies Down on Broadway' syndrome?). Great work but I'd rate this one quite below my favorites 'Trust Us', 'In The Fishtank' or 'Heavy Metal Fruit'. Just a bit less would have been a whole lot more. 3.5+

Review by Mellotron Storm
5 stars After being disappointed with their previous album "Heavy Metal Fruit" I really had no intention of getting this. Enter Todd who sent me an audio clip and I was sold. Now i'm not a big fan of double albums or concept albums but this double concept recording is incredible. Just to be clear there are always exceptions to the norm as I do have some amazing double albums and concept records, and i'd certainly include this with those. The story here is about a young man who gets caught poaching and his punishment is to be sent off in a ship which turns out to be worse than death. Lots of orchestration in this one too and i'm not usually into that but again they make it work perfectly. Easy to see why this made the Collaborator's top five for 2012. This is a very cinematic recording that really does take you on a journey. The TRONDHEIM JAZZ ORCHESTRA is fantastic and I like the heavy sections as well. Also there is a seventies vibe with those flute / mellotron-like sounds.

Disc one starts off with "Out Of The Woods" which is just over 2 1/2 minutes of experimentation as the horns and other sounds come and go. It's very orchestral later on here in this intro track. Guitar late as it blends into "The Hollow Lands" and drums also join in in this intense piece. It settles after 2 minutes and we get vocals for the first time. There's those mellotron flute-like sounds. It builds with growly bass and pounding drums as the vocals become more passionate. Man this is so good. Excellent instrumental section after 3 1/2 minutes too. Check out the raw guitar here. Vocals are back around 6 minutes. This has to be a top three track. "Through The Veil" opens with strange sounds like percussion really and some horns honking. This is the 16 minute epic of the first disc. It kicks in just before 2 minutes. Hell yeah it does ! Vocals follow and they sound great. We get an instrumental section before 4 minutes with horns, violin, drums and more. Vocals are back a minute later. A change before 6 minutes and this is catchy and instrumental. A calm before 9 minutes but it doesn't last long. Vocals and that ealier sound return 10 1/2 minutes in. A calm 2 minutes later with some interesting vocals. It kicks in again a minute later before settling back again with some cool guitar expressions. "Doldrums" begins with orchestration that is laid back but not for long. This sounds really good like a soundtrack for a movie. "Into The Gyre" opens with strings. The vocals a minute in are reserved. It starts to build 4 minutes in until they are kicking it hard. The guitar is on fire before 6 1/2 minutes ! This insanity lasts for a minute then we get a calm. Organ joins in late followed by some haunting atmosphere. "Flotsam" is the 1 1/2 minute conclusion to disc one and it's a melancholic, helpless sounding way to end it.

Disc two starts with "Oh, Proteus-A Prayer". More melancholy as the vocals come in singing "All is broken...our ship has sunk in the deep forever". This is sad with violins. It then sounds like a horror movie before 3 minutes as the vocals stop briefly. They return with more passion including louder orchestration. "Skulls In Limbo" is a short piece that is haunting throughout. It blends into "La Lethe". It starts to build some until it becomes powerful before 2 minutes and continues throughout. "Oh, Proteus-A Lament" is only a minute long and it's where the vocals return with lots of orchestration. "Sharks" has these fragile vocals as he describes the futility of his situation. Death is near. Some bombast before 6 minutes to the end. "Mutiny !" hits the ground running with the vocals and drums standing out but there is a full sound here. Man this is such a great track. A calm before 8 minutes to the end. "Into The Mystic" ends the album in style. A nice heavy intro as the guitar cries out. So good ! The violin is slicing it up. Vocals join in before 2 1/2 minutes. Love when it calms down with mellotron-like flute 3 1/2 minutes in. It picks back up with vocals. The last three minutes are instrumental.A top three track.

I am just so impressed with this recording. This is what Prog is all about and these guys have nailed it with "The Death Defying Unicorn". In my top five for 2012.

Review by EatThatPhonebook
4 stars 7/10

Perfectly Structured Delirium.

"The Death Defying Unicorn" is a collaborative studio album between Norwegian Alternative Rock/Progressive Rock band Motorpsycho and Staale Storlokken, a known Jazz composer also from Norway, accompanied by the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra. It is Motorpsycho's fifteenth album, and their first collaboration with Storlokken. The final concept and idea they were able to craft is very original; Once again, the band turns towards a different direction from their previous works (it is a blueprint of theirs in fact to be shifting sound continuously, despite always holding the same roots firmly) in a positive and exciting way.

There is a lot of Motorpsycho here for sure: the same exuberance is felt, especially in the vocals, and the songwriting is still somewhat Alternative Rock oriented. However, the arrangements the music surrounds itself in are much more similar to Jazz and Progressive Rock, because of the overwhelming amount of horns and strings that seem to be the predominant characteristic of the entire album. There are still the electric guitar bursts and acoustic verses, but when they happen they don't feel as strong or peculiar as the orchestral instrumentation.

With this in mind, the band decided to go with mainly two kind of songs: the fast-paced, delirious ones, that often are longer and include an improvisation/Jam section, while the calmer songs are carefully executed and orchestrated. These two kind of songs are really the only material this album has going for, but it's feels like a self-sufficient formula anyway, despite the length of the album ( one hour and twenty minutes, divided up in thirteen tracks), which should suggest a bit more variety in terms of mood. But letting the album flow as it is, It's admirable how only two types of songs intertwine with each other so elegantly, and shift moods with such a carefully studied pace. The emotional ups and downs of the album being so spread out throughout the 80 minutes of its length is almost promoting the feeling that the listener may gladly loose himself in the midst of it, without losing too much. It's more about the entire work, basically, than the individual songs, which gives "The Death Defying Unicorn" the feeling that it's kind of like concept album, like a bizarre opera.

Although there could have been not only a little more variety in the instrumentation, but also in the songwriting (a lot of the songs sound pretty similar to one another), Motorpsycho's release is another triumph of their vast discography, and a decent follow-up to the great album that was "Heavy Metal Fruit". Motorpsycho is a band that ever since the nineties has done music, and has never been afraid to experiment with new things, and it seems they haven't lost this habit of theirs. Hopefully, material will be coming out of the studio consistently after this.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "The Death Defying Unicorn" is the 14th full-length studio album by Norwegian rock act Motorpsycho. The album was released through Stickman Records/Rune Grammofon in February 2012. It´s a collaborative release between Motorpsycho and Ståle Storløkken. The latter plays keyboards on the album and has arranged the tracks along with the group. He is also responsible for arranging the parts of the album played by Trondheimsolistene and the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra. "The Death Defying Unicorn" was released on double CD and double 12" vinyl.

The music on the album is quite the eclectic mix of psychadelic, stoner/hard and progressive rock spiced up with some avant garde type jazz/chamber orchestra moments (and some more symphonic ones too). At times the avant garde element reminds me of The Mothers of Invention. There is also a cinematic/theatrical element to the music, which is probably due to this being a concept album, and to build a dramatic atmosphere to go along with the lyrics (which are a fairytale at sea of sorts), the band have opted to include that element too. The band themselves are as always well playing and their jamming type rock, which owes a big depth to both 60s psychadelic rock and 70s hard rock, and on this particular album also to 70s progressive rock (vintage keyboards and flutes are some of the elements), works like a charm. A heavy bass, fuzzy guitars and (mostly) laid back mellow vocals are the foundation of the music. All the other elements are layered on top of that. Sometimes, like in some parts of the 16:01 minutes long "Through The Veil", in a multi-layered chaotic fashion.

A track like "Into the Gyre", with it´s mellow first couple of minutes and heavier and busier last couple of minutes, is an obvious highlight to my ears, but there are brilliant moments popping up throughout the album. Tracks like "The Hollow Lands", the above mentioned "Through The Veil", the energetic "Mutiny!" and the closing "Into the Mystic" are standout tracks too. I could have done without some of the most ambient and slow building tracks, but that´s probably an aquired taste.

The sound production is warm, organic and detailed, suiting the music perfectly. Overall "The Death Defying Unicorn" is a very adventurous album by Motorpsycho. It´s admirable how an act that have been around for about 25 years are still branching out and trying new things. This is by far their most progressive release yet and while there are several nods toward 70s prog and other vintage rock styles, this doesn´t sound like a clone of anything. Motorpsycho are unique. At 83:44 minutes, "The Death Defying Unicorn" is a pretty long album and if the band had left out some of the more atmosphere enhancing ambient tracks like "Doldrums", "Flotsam", "Sculls in Limbo" and "La Lethe" I feel the album would still have been a long but much stronger one disc album. In it´s current for there are though still enough quality material to warrant a 4 star (80%) rating.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars If you only hear one Motorpsycho album in your life, let it be this one. There is a huge chance that you'll decide that it won't be the last one you'll ever hear.

Motorpsycho had gone through the years proving time and again that they were a team of musicians that could make an impression of some kind in different styles of rock. Starting with stoner rock and moving through various sub-genres like country rock, alternative, fusion and now finally making their mark with progressive rock. And with the 2 CD album "The Death Defying Unicorn: A Fanciful and Fairly Far-out Musical Fable", they did it in a big way. So big, in fact, that they created a masterpiece. For anyone that doubted they could do it, they proved them wrong.

"The Death Defying Unicorn" is a progressive rock lovers dream come true with a fascinating story and a musical score that pretty much defied anything else that came out that year. On this album, Motorpsycho teamed with Stale Storlokken, the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra and the small string orchestra Trondheimsolistene to create a bombastic, yet top-notch album full of heavy rock instruments meshed with orchestra and jazz instruments, and left the critics, fans and the public with their jaws hanging open in awe.

Originally, this music was a long-forgotten by Motorpsycho as an idea they had toyed around with and then shelved without further development. After it was brought back out into the light, it ended up being commissioned by Molde International Jazzfestival to be performed on their main stage for their 50th anniversary in 2010. The music afterwards was re-arranged, fine tuned and recorded from the beginning with Stale Storlokken, one of Norway's top keyboardists, doing the arrangements for the ensemble work. What we ended up with is an amazing multi-movement work with a lot of power and amazing musicianship.

The first CD contains the first 7 movements of the album, starting out with the overture "Out of the Woods" which features mostly strings playing the first main theme and developing it, preparing for the next part "The Hollow Lands" which continues the developed motif with the sudden inclusion of Motorpsycho and an explosion of guitars, keys and drums playing right along, and what an opening and what an impression they make right off the bat. As you find yourself enveloped in this amazing music, you eventually come to the lyrics, dynamics being utilized to emphasize the first part of the story, and the addition of the jazz orchestra. But it all really comes together in the epic "Through the Veil" which sees all of the musicians come together in a miasma of sound and awesomeness. Here is a 16 minute track that combines the craziness of jazz/rock fusion classic "20th Century Schizoid Man" of which it has been compared to. At this point, the listener knows that they have entered a world of amazingness and that this album is to be remembered and be recognized as a rock masterwork. The music has to be experienced, it is that awesome. Everything to this point represents the main character being brought onto an ill-fated ship and the ensuing storm that rips the boat to shreds, leaving it floating aimlessly in the aftermath. Things cool down after those first three tracks, but the music isn't any less interesting, in fact, it proves that this is not just a one-trick pony, but that it can be dynamic also. "Doldrums" gives you a cooling off period before another long epic track "Into the Gyre" which ranges from lighter fare to spurts of guitar and rock magic, all 3 styles of progressive rock, jazz and classical music working together wonderfully. "Flotsam" ends the first disc with a more reflective number, atmospheric and still quite intriguing, the music representing sailors lost at sea.

Disc Two begins with "Oh Proteus, A Prayer" and continues with the story of the sailors lost at sea and mysterious and atmospheric music with harmonized layered vocals and heavy strings. The melody is loose and listless, wandering around like the ship. After 3 minutes in, it increases in volume, a dark undertone is brought about by churning guitars (waves) as the wandering vocals continue. The darkness continues to drone on after the vocals end as the layers of instruments meld together. "Sculls in Limbo" utilizes effects to make eerie and unreal effects, staying mostly minimal in sound. "La Lethe" fades in slowly with the jazz orchestra building the music slowly, but with a soft beat and rhythm that gives a surreal feeling, almost as dreams of past memories. The music builds and a sense of danger and unease come with the build. Again, a drone-like sound creates the dark undertow of the water, while the hazy jazz orchestra continues to play, but in a more experimental way, contributing to the mental fog surrounding the ship's crew, what is real and what is not. Wordless vocals are harmonized, but mixed deeply, and somehow a melodic sax solo emerges from the dark nightmarish instrument haze, and even that seems unsure of itself as the music builds, then suddenly lets go and softens, then suddenly increases in a dramatic orchestral passage. This section ends with a short reprise of "Oh Proteus" subtitled as "A Lament" this time. This brings back decipherable vocals, but now the crew seems to be losing their sanity.

The last three tracks deal with the crew slipping into insanity starting with "Sharks". The title might suggest the meat-eating fish, but in reality deals with the sharks of the mind. Soft, slightly unhinged singing and minimal music that sounds like something from Roger Waters mind begins the track. Soft pizzicato strings underlie a bowed violin playing a loose melody. After a while, the brass comes in very quietly, then more vocals, a little more upfront this time. Dissonant chords from the strings bring in more unease, then things increase in intensity and drama as the music crescendos. A male chorus sings and the darkness becomes more evident. It's an excellent payoff for the patient listener as the drama builds and flows into the excellent "Mutiny". Now we go into full progressive rock mode as a frantic feeling takes over with excellent vocals and complex musicianship follows. A wild instrumental break led by guitar and bass take it up to another level and the music sounds inspired by the introduction to Yes' "Changes", but with a layered and hazy feel with heavy guitars. It's all quite awesome. When it reaches the climax, it all seems to come crashing down, then suddenly recovers bringing back vocals, mellotron and more guitars. But it's all so well-layered that it still sounds like a full orchestra. Finally, it all calms for a softer vocal ending, and this segue's into the finale "Into the Mystic", which is not the Van Morrison song by the way. This one takes right off into heavy, dark guitars and a screaming violin solo over the top of it all. This ending is one of the best endings to a concept story-based albums I have heard. Talk about a rousing and climactic ending.

This album is so amazingly well done that it deserves to be up there with the masterpieces of prog, and if it had been made in the 70's, we would be singing its praises just like we do for the other masterpieces of that time like "Close to the Edge", "Pawn Hearts", "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway", and "Dark Side of the Moon", it is that good. Like I said at the beginning, if you only hear one Motorpsycho album, let it be this one, and I'm sure you'll be soon wishing you could hear some of their other albums. This is a genius masterpiece, an essential album that will make those that believe there is no good progressive rock after the 70s back into believing that it is still alive and well. This is it folks, one of the best progressive rock albums from the 2010s. Simply amazing and inspiring, it should be considered one of the all-time greats of progressive music that is meant to be heard from start to finish, not one track at a time. It's one of my rare 6-star albums.

Review by Kempokid
5 stars Motorpsycho is a band that I've been wanting to explore the discography of for a really long time at this point, predominantly for the simple reason that The Death Defying Unicorn is not only one of the best prog albums of the decade, but one of the best prog albums ever created in general. The Death Defying Unicorn is an album that feels as if it manages to get almost everything right that it sets out to do. The story told is evocative and plays perfectly into being able to support some very strong atmosphere, which the album capitalises upon very frequently to the point where so much of what is explored can be understood purely through the music. The vast array of instrumentation brought into the fray further reinforces how strong the imagery can be and how intense things can get as well, with both a brass and string orchestra being integrated through the psychedelic, dense compositions to give them further depth and dramatic flair. With this album, it's not just a case of how much it feels that it does that makes it so impressive, but the fact that every element of it goes so far beyond what one could typically expect from such ideas, ensuring that not a single element of their craft feels underutilised or even merely just good, all culminating in one of the finest albums out there.

The album immediately kicks off and represents how utterly inspired and intense it is with the intro track Out of the Woods, with the very first note being a high pitched, shaky clarinet tone that carries on for an extremely long time, creating an uneasy tone with a sense of underlying beauty and chaos that's only elevated once the horns and strings come in. I love the way it almost sounds as if these instruments are battling against one another as the strings in the background add some theatricality and majesty to it all, with an increasingly huge amount of layers being piled on top, the most satisfying being once you get to hear the melodic intro of The Hollow Lands. This works not only because of immediately creating a throughline between the two tracks and having them transition nicely, but also allows what essentially feels like 3 minutes of buildup to completely erupt into a flurry of power from everything, the drums going all over the place, playing in such a way that barely holds any sense of rhythm and instead more closely resembles the aggressive crashing of waves to immediately establish the nautical theme the album takes on. This chaotic intro is balanced nicely with some more stripped back sections that introduce the vocals, which throughout are sung and harmonised by 2 of the band members and give off a rather unique effect that makes them sound constantly drowned out, yet with a distinct sense of intensity. I feel this represents the tumultuous mental state of the main character rather well as he's forced to embark on a journey he never wanted to be a part of, with the crashing drums creating some very evocative imagery of the threats to allow the listener to further sympathise, with the atmosphere and soundscapes being that of danger and exploration of the unknown. This song does an utterly fantastic job at setting the tone and direction quite a bit of the album takes on, and even ends with a moment of beautiful melancholy with some soft string arrangements that further adds to the storytelling.

With all of this said however, the peak of the album's exploration of inner turmoil and fear is Through the Veil. While the song is 16 minutes long, I'm confident that every moment of it serves to contribute both to itself and the album as a whole, from the gradually building intro to the remorseful conclusion. One of my favourite things about the song however is its main riff, as not only does it sound extremely groovy and memorable, but it gives off some really strong Black Sabbath vibes that I absolutely love in this, adding yet another dimension of sound to something that's already got 5 different things going on at all times. Much of the chaos that The Hollow Lands brought forth is toned down in favour of being an increasingly intense display of regret, which ends up giving off a subtle, yet undoubtedly noticeable tonal difference as well, with the song tapering off at multiple points and bringing forth these long, fast-paced passages, almost as if the vocals are being interrupted by powerful outside forces. Stuff like this is part of what I find makes this album so special, just the way that so much attention is paid to these details to make the music work as a storytelling device without sacrificing anything at all, still sounding phenomenal at basically any point. The track also comes to a close in a pretty clever way after the music reaches some insane climactic moments, shifting this anger at the situation that was created into one of quiet resignation and acceptance, the repeated line of "I can never go back there" being particularly chilling for this reason, as well as foreshadowing the direction a lot of what's left of the album ends up taking. This progression from having the loud, intense moments of music representing a character to instead representing the harsh surroundings the story takes place in ends up giving the album all the more character along with the ability to craft some even more full-on passages.

Into the Gyre represents this change rather well, as despite the fact that the song's about a ship getting completely destroyed by the sea in a very violent way, the first half of things are extremely light and minimalistic, which mirrors this sense of quiet resignation about the situation. With that said, not only does this end up being the magnum opus of an album full of masterpieces, but it just feels like it manages to go even a step further than everything else. With this said, my favourite moment here is those first few minutes, with everything being played so softly that you can here the clarinet players breathing through their instruments and the subtle differences in airflow thanks to the reeds being opened and closed, with other elements like interwoven tambourines and the central flute melody contributing even further to the feeling of lushness. I particularly like the way that this force of nature isn't even musically represented in what could be considered an evil way or anything as well, instead bring framed in a threatening, yet completely beautiful and majestic light, with passages of sweeping strings completely engulfing everything. The next portion of the album, from Flotsam to Sharks all carries a very similar feel to it, but it's one that I find really admirable and interesting. Not much really happens here, everything has a tendency to just feel very, very sparse. This sets up a tone that feels truly hopeless, with the only moments of heightened emotion coming in the form of desperate cries for help that you already know will be answered by nobody, really capturing this feeling of being totally alone in what feels like a truly impossible situation. With this said, I do understand that some might not really enjoy this, especially in the case of La Lethe, with is basically 8 minutes of sparse instrumentation that sounds akin to small waves slowly rocking assorted pieces of driftwood and rafts, but I just think that it adds to much to the album to get this extended period of total isolation.

Sharks is where the album starts to pick up again, but also manages to start off at the album's emotional low point with the simple but effective technique of simply having only one of the vocalists take part at first. This immediately makes everything feel incredibly empty and has the eventual buildup and first moment of energy in about 25 minutes feel absolutely gargantuan, with the alternating horns and strings being incredible at conveying a growing sense of resentment and desire to do literally anything about what still feels hopeless. This moves into Mutiny! flawlessly and ends up being yet another of the many moments here that I consider perfect. The ascending strings, the bass, everything about the song just has a driven feel to it completely devoid of any uncertainty or tentative feelings, a moment of complete triumph within what's been a largely miserable experience, and it just doesn't stop for the entire duration of the song and just, wow, what an incredible release and moment of positivity from within an album that constantly conveys things going horribly wrong. The true genius however, is the fact that Into The Mystic exists, taking this fury and triumph, and then revealing that it literally didn't change the situation at all, everyone left is still going to die, there's still nobody to find their wreck, it's still the end of the road for them. Despite this, the track which is mostly a reprise of The Hollow Lands, just with different lyrics, ends off on a far more positive note, with the melancholic strings being replaced with a far more energetic arrangement with some lovely mellotron, which at first could seem a bit strange, until it's all revealed where so much of this fear and frustration that's been perpetuated throughout stems from. In the end, the main cause of so much strife is that of lacking any control or agency, making what could seem like a fruitless endeavour to some end up becoming such a pure moment of hope. Sure, the protagonist ends up being alone at sea, but he still feels as if he can accept it optimistically now, knowing that he did all in his power and took back his life in those final moments, a moral victory like no other, and leaves the album on a profoundly bittersweet note that I'm a huge fan of.

Overall, while there may be some small issues throughout The Death Defying Unicorn, it is nonetheless one of the boldest and most exciting prog album I've heard. The blending of psychedelic rock and prog with such bombastic string and horn arrangements give the album something special, especially with how perfectly integrated they really are, making them feel like more than just another flavour of the standard prog formula, instead sounding just like itself and like barely anything else to quite the same effect. Albums like this prove that even if progressive rock might not have the same popularity or universal appeal as it once did, but it's by no means dead, with some of the genre's best material still coming out these days. If there's one prog album to check out from the 2010s, then it's definitely this one in my opinion, there's just so much right with it and so little that I could consider a flaw, insane stuff.

Best tracks: Through the Veil, Into the Gyre, Mutiny!, Into the Mystic

Weakest tracks: Doldrums

Review by Dapper~Blueberries
5 stars After Little Lucid Moments Motorpsycho has been pumping out hit after hit in the realm of their new found prog tendencies. However, it goes without saying that their magnum opus, the highest peak they reach in their prog rock ideals, comes in the form of a very strange, beautiful, intense, and highly magical album that is best described within the subtitle: "A FANCIFUL AND FAIRLY FAR-OUT MUSICAL FABLE". This is The Death Defying Unicorn, the album that really gave Motorpsycho the big splash they needed within the prog rock community, highlighting that they aren't just a rock band that dabbles in prog rock, but also bathe in it.

This is a collaborative album the band did with the Norwegian jazz and classical composer Ståle Storløkken. This collaborative work makes this album feel more tight knit since without the help of Ståle, this would not reach the same highs as it does in its current state, because this is some stellar music to be found here.

This feels like one big progressive rock epic with each track weaving around each other, like a moving gyroscope. There will always be a returning leitmotif or theme within this record that will be explored later on, and as someone who is a sucker for leitmotifs with my track record of being a fan of Undertale and Deltarune and other Toby Fox works, hearing these returning and winding themes always brings an intense joy within my heart that I cannot describe. This truly feels like a movie, with moments of fairly Disney-like romanticism with intense moments of avant-prog tendencies, like a bizarre, almost The Flyesque fusion between the jazz workings of Frank Zappa, the highly magical sounds of Renaissance, the bizarre wildness of The Cardiacs, and a good sprinkling of the more gothic prog orientation of Anglagard, and that is barely scratching the surface of the variety of sounds this album holds. Sometimes you might get very Swans-like post rock with tracks like La Lethe, or moments that feel very much like Soft Machine. This is, by definition, the most varied prog rock album I have ever heard, and no track feels out of place. Motorpsycho and Ståle Storløkken work in tandem with each other as they play this giant epic of prog proportions. It is just one of my favorites in this strange niche of more contemporary prog.

The story here is also fantastic in my opinion. It tells the journey of a poacher, who becomes a cabin boy for a crew that wishes to explore the hollow lands, with each song being a new encounter that winds and twists the mortal coils that dawn on the poacher. It is this almost lovecraftian epic that I cannot help but adore, especially within the movement between Oh Proteus - A Prayer through Oh Proteus - A Lament. It all just works in tandem with the music, and I just cannot help but adore it.

I think the album's magnificent three piece closure of Sharks, Mutiny!, and Into The Mystic just makes this album more of a masterpiece than it already is for me, just how it loops back to the beginning, almost symbolizing that many more have been through the journey in the hollow lands many times before, and will continue afterwards. It is just a fine closure within the inherent epicness this album exudes, and for that, I cannot help but rank this any less than a five out of five.

If you want a very grand, beautiful, and highly varied prog rock work, stop what you're doing and listen to this album. It is one of those albums that keeps on giving with highly magical movements that take you on a trip through an extremely wild adventure that makes you want to come back for more. This album truly defies death, no matter how you scratch it.

Latest members reviews

5 stars This album is an absolute marvel. It was the first Motorpsycho album I heard and ever since I've been listening to the band constantly. This record for sure remains as one of the best works from the band and works amazingly from beginning to end. The Death Defying Unicorn actually encapsulate ... (read more)

Report this review (#2696045) | Posted by Nhelv | Monday, February 28, 2022 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Everything about it reeks of ambition. The colorful, but non-sensical title. The overly verbose introduction. The double CD format (which could have been easily shaved into a single 70-minute killer CD, by the way). The inclusion of both a jazz AND a string orchestra. Well, despite the promis ... (read more)

Report this review (#1392259) | Posted by Progrussia | Thursday, April 2, 2015 | Review Permanlink

5 stars My favorite album of 2012. The instrumentation is really impressive and Kenneth Kapstad has grown to be one of my favorite drummers of the newer generation. The concept is quite silly but also intriguing, and the music reflects the lyrics really well. My favorite songs are (in chronological orde ... (read more)

Report this review (#910968) | Posted by Vellevold | Thursday, February 7, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars 10/10 I believe the sound offered by Motorpsycho this album is unlike anything you may have already appeared on earth, at least that's ever reached my ears. How to sort this epic album? Jazz-fusion? Hard-rock/stoner rock? Psychedelic Rock? Orchestral music? Avant- garde? Or was it all togeth ... (read more)

Report this review (#910822) | Posted by voliveira | Wednesday, February 6, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Motorpsycho and Ståle Storløkken: The Death Defying Unicorn (2012) The work of Norwegian band Motorpsycho is really interesting and unique. Although their sound is derived from Grunge style, they don't hesitate to mix a bit of Jazz, a pinch of Classical music, a little bit of Psychedelia, and ... (read more)

Report this review (#863924) | Posted by Gandalfino | Tuesday, November 20, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The best album of 2012 - quite possibly... A weird, wild and wonderful ride. Motorpsycho, with help, have created a unique offering that stacks up well against the notable and honored concept albums of the past and extends the sound palette we normally associate with progressive rock. I think of ... (read more)

Report this review (#770152) | Posted by tboyd1802 | Wednesday, June 13, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars After the astonishing 2010's "Heavy Metal Fruit", Motorpsycho managed to make one more step forward with this courageous creation. This is a record that makes their early days works sound like music from a different band. This is an adventurous concept album based on epic sea voyage legends, s ... (read more)

Report this review (#750344) | Posted by Astryos | Monday, May 7, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Motorpsycho is a Norwegian band that was a big unknown for me. I know it is only thanks to their then-new album "Heavy Metal Fruit" (2010) and only by looking at this masterpiece, I gradually began to search for their other albums. Their relatively large production however suffers from a signi ... (read more)

Report this review (#720509) | Posted by Gandalff | Tuesday, April 10, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Noone expects something unique from a band's 15th album. Unless we 're referring to Motorpsycho, this musically inventive band from Norway. "The Death Defying Unicorn" features the band's collaboration with Trodheim Jazz Orchestra and the result can be adequately described as "unexpectedly sup ... (read more)

Report this review (#647362) | Posted by DeKay | Tuesday, March 6, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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