by Pistol Pete USER (32 Reviews)
March 30th, 2013 | 9 replies

Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An album full of great ambition and determination, but too often leaves the listener asking “So What?”

On their self-titled debut album, Amplifier showed us some fantastic traits that hinted at a band with a lot of promise. “Space Rock” is such a weird term to use as it’s hard to describe what exactly that is. What’s even weirder is that one listen of their debut album and you can almost immediately point and say “THAT MUST be space rock”. Amplifier blends those spacey psychedelic sounds of bands like Pink Floyd with an edgy, grungy alternative rock style almost akin to Alice in Chains. They sound like a misplaced ‘80s band transported to the new modern age. While it definitely had its minor flaws, the majority of the self-titled album effortlessly fluctuated between soothing and airy segments to riffs that felt like refreshing cold water being thrown in your face. Even more impressive was how the band managed to do all that in single songs, not necessarily splitting those ideas up into separate songs. What is certainly evident though is the band sounded strongest when they play at their heaviest. Sel Balamir has such a keen ear for weighty riffs and adds just the right dose of heaviness, ensuring the sound is powerful without being intrusive.

Insider sounds very much like an Amplifier album. It’s obvious the band wanted to further explore their heavier edge. You can hear how ambitious the band was when the title track kicks in. They truly want to pummel the listener with as many juicy riffs as possible. But in the end the album feels sloppy and crudely pieced together. There are too many segments that don’t make sense and far too much “rock”, not enough “space”. The first two tracks are great examples of what I mean. “Gustav’s Arrival” tries so desperately to kick-start the album with a bang, and does to an extent. However, it shows that Amplifier’s sound requires Balamir to be present vocally as well and in the end we get a stomping opener that seems somewhat hollow without any lyrics. “O Fortuna” finally gives us some lyrics, but the song again feels too straight-forward, full of hard riffs with vocals that don’t follow the pace properly. What little quirky deviations the song has feel forced and whatever “O Fortuna” has to offer, the song “RIP” sounds so similar to it that both songs no longer feel distinct or unique at all once they finish.

Pacing is also a major issue here. The best rock albums know when to ease off on the noise and give the listener a break. Amplifier certainly knows how to accomplish this too. “On/Off” was a lovely fluttering space rock track off the last album that relaxed the listener before leading into the ultimate climax of the album when “The Consultancy” starts up. On Insider, there are only a countable amount of times where Amplifier gives us a break. One such example is the pointless little interlude that is “Oort”, and what do we get after it? While “What Is Music?” does start with a bizarre electronic beat, we just end up getting even more rocking soon after. Lyrics can sometimes be the saving grace, but looking at those final few tracks it’s safe to say the lyrics aren’t offering anything thought-provoking either, just a lot of “into the blue, up into the blue (yeah)” and “sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose”. Awesome.

Amplifier is a great and promising band. They do in fact know how to make a good song; we’ve seen it before multiple times, and even on here. The song “Procedures” has a random and intriguing intro that shows Amplifier has a slight humorous side to them. It’s paced perfectly, offers the album’s grooviest riff, and the vocals and instruments share the track time harmoniously. It kicks ass and is one of Amplifier’s strongest songs, easily the “Consultancy” of this album. This is a band slowly figuring itself out and is one of the few rock acts around that you can still anticipate something great coming from in future albums, maybe that magnum opus we all knew they had in them? Who knows, but it’s not here that’s for damn sure. Insider is the epitome of “average”. Almost every song is pleasant sounding with Amplifier’s signature characteristics, but most amount to nothing spectacular in the end; gloriously inglorious.

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Rob Heald (3.5)
Progress can be seen as Amplifier begins experimenting with new sounds and styles, but in the end mo...

Comments:Add a Comment 
March 30th 2013


Album Rating: 2.5

"Procedures" is a sick song. This band is actually amazing, but this album is probably their weakest effort.

Digging: O'Brother - Garden Window

March 30th 2013


nice read and you backed up your points well


Digging: Fleurety - Min Tid Skal Komme

March 30th 2013


Album Rating: 4.0

If you think this is their weakest effort, wait till you check out their latest - 'Echo Steet'. It's such a placid and lackadaisical effort that it made me miss the near-relentless dynamism of this one.

As for article, it's a fairly decent write-up. As stated above, you've supported your criticisms justly. I'd be interested to read what you consider to be the minor flaws of their debut. It's an album I've always considered to be one of the great, hidden gems of the 00s.

March 30th 2013


Album Rating: 4.0


March 30th 2013


Album Rating: 2.5

@Oiad: Thanks man. I've really wanted to check out "Echo Street" because I think "Matmos" is an unbelievable song/single. But the reaction to it on this site has been fairly mediocre so haven't had much enthusiasm yet to go hear it. Will get to it.

I liked their self-titled a lot, and it has easily some of their best songs. But the one thing this band does do occasionally (especially on this album) is just meander around with songs that don't progress to much and the first half of their self-titled has a bit of that also. I love their spin on progressive rock though I think they are capable of creating some truly fantastic songs ("Motorhead" is absolutely amazing and I also like a lot on "The Octopus").

March 30th 2013


Album Rating: 3.0

It's not the band's fault. Fucking SPV, they rushed them to finish this quickly.

March 31st 2013


Album Rating: 4.0

@pwalcher: 'Matmos' is indeed a top song. Unfortunately it's the highlight of the album rather than being indicative of the general quality. In my opinion things more-or-less go slowly downhill afterwards. Maybe impressions will improve upon additional listening but even if it does it's hard to see me rating it higher than their previous albums...

March 31st 2013


Album Rating: 2.5

Aww man what a bummer, was looking forward to that =[

Whatever, plenty of other great albums in the first quarter of this year

October 27th 2013


Wow, completely missed this review. Very well written, but perhaps a little harsh on the album. It's a 3-3.5 for me I'm thinking so far.

Good thing they picked up and produced the orgasm that is The Octopus after this

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