24 Jul 2021 - Ben
Prog / Heavy Rock | Stickman Records | Release date: 16 Apr 2021
Never afraid to comment on the issues of the day, Trondheim’s finest show us all what creative productivity looks like with their follow-up to last year’s The All Is One.
Motorpsycho formed in the late 80s as a Metal/Alternative band. Aside from picking a great name – inspired by a Russ Meyer film - they set to work quickly, releasing their first, Grunge-infused album, Lobotomiser, in 1991. Before long, they found their musical direction stretched beyond Grunge/Indie and began making music with greater musical ambitions, starting with 1993’s Demon Box double-LP. Since then they’ve moved through collaborations and projects that sit way outside the standard fields most people would expect a rock band to occupy, working with museums, free improv artists and others to create a more eclectic canon of work.
Having slowed down a little in the last decade – only releasing an incredibly creative and influential album every other year, instead of every year – they have released two in 2019 (The Crucible, The Light Fantastic), one in 2020 (The All Is One) and that brings us to Kingdom Of Oblivion, released on 16 April this year.
Bursting out of the gates in track one is “The Waning (Pt 1 & 2)” – a pacy, chugging warning that we’ve left it too late to take any meaningful action on climate change and it’s now time for the next generation to find a new planet to inhabit.
“The point of no return’s finally passed… Children fight your corner, you’ll need a new home. Boldly go where none have ventured.”
“The Waning…” sets out the stall for the rest of the album in terms of the social commentary, concern about the climate, religion. The title track seems to be a view from inside an opiate fog and relates why they aren’t particularly interested in finding their way out.
All of this sounds very worthy, but does it rock?
Yes. Yes, it does.
There are stomping, almost Black Keys-ish riffs. There are prog elements in extended instrumental sections. There are fingerpicked, folky aspects with close harmonies, reminiscent of Simon & Garfunkel. There’s a cover of Hawkwind’s “The Watcher”, that takes the original’s advancing, understated menace and moves it into almost ambient discomfort – like being slowly enveloped by The Fog. It creeps around you and wraps you up before you even know what’s happening.
As mentioned previously, there are stomping rock songs, such as “The United Debased”, that begins with taking well-aimed shots at aspects of certain western democracies - at some points telling the stories from each side. Halfway through, the song takes on another guise, rocking through a Black Sabbath-style triode run to bring a more menacing air to the proceedings. As with all the songs on the album, the music and lyrics team up to tell the story both explicitly through the words and implicitly through the music.
In essence, Kingdom Of Oblivion is an album proving that Motorpsycho are a band showing no sign of creative fatigue, no sign of slowing down and no sign of taking their foot off the socio-political gas pedal.