Amplifier
Echo Street


3.5
great

Review

by Finbar USER (21 Reviews)
May 24th, 2013 | 51 replies | 3,887 views


Release Date: 03/11/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Amplifier take off into space, but don't quite reach the stars...

2 of 3 thought this review was well written

The Octopus is one of the greatest prog albums of the 21st Century. It's hard to deny with its soaring riffs, thunderous drumming and lyrics that take you on a trip through the vastness of space, travelling faster than light.
That album took the band no less than four years to craft, while Echo Street was finished in a matter of months.
It shows.

It's easy to be fooled into thinking this will be Amplifier's best album yet with the near-perfect opener Matmos. The song sees the band dropping their usual themes of interstellar travel and insects with magic powers for Sel Balamir to sing an ode to love and fulfilment, a wall of guitar and Matt Brobin's signature drum fills creating a powerful, uplifiting atmosphere. A slow build of subtle and spacey atmosphere until a final breathtaking release make for what turns out to be one of Amplifier's best and most distinctive songs, a clear sign of a confident and maturing band.

However, as the next song The Wheel foreshadows, the rest of the album is much less masterfully crafted, with some songs feeling half-baked in structure, this track left a fairly pointless listening experience. Amplifier's formula of reaching the mid-point of a song and then repeating the first half - which had previously caused them to flirt with repetitiveness on songs like The Octopus and Fall of the Empire - has finally failed them; The Wheel teasingly builds up to a moment where one of Balamir's mind-melting riffs could take it away but nope, at 3:53, the song just starts again.

With the addition of ex-Oceansize guitarist Steve Durose, you'd think there'd be frequent interplay in the string section but it appears that the driving grooves that previously made Amplifier are almost extinct, replaced by standard chord progressions that, while not making the music boring, fail to truly captivate the listener much of the time.
This is not helped by how when solos are present, they are too low in the mix so important moments often fail to stand out, especially in Extra Vehicular's heavy section, leaving the song feeling like it should be 5 minutes shorter.
Then there's Paris in the Spring, could have been amazing but ends up meandering for 8 minutes, unsure whether it should be an quiet lament or thundering and explosive, instead mixing both and achieving neither.

Despite all these rantings, Echo Street is in no way a bad album. It has its stand-outs in the beautifully simple Where the River Goes, every instrument slowly coming together until the track soars in its climax, and the title track, an immersive, soothing and even psychedelic piece with a gentle bassline layered over Sel's distant falsetto, proving the band's huge talent for expansive, atmospheric space rock.
It's also nice to see Amplifier attempting something entirely new with the all-acoustic Between Today and Yesterday, poor Brobin having to sit still for 5 minutes without hammering that floor-tom for once. Also, Mary Rose is a joyful, light-hearted closer, though it does become a tad repetitive and can't hold the smallest ember of a candle to the previous album's Forever and More, which could rank among the best closers of all time.

Echo Street is a valiant attempt by Amplifier to embrace their mellower side but I feel it was rushed (perhaps to bring something to the table for their new record label?) and it proves to be the album's downfall, showing even in the album's artwork. While Amplifier have never been known for having the most enthralling artwork, Echo Street's looks like a half-hour Photoshop job - the 'ripped' paper effect is abominable...



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user ratings (33)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Mad.
May 24th 2013



3587 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Needs more Octopussy.

Digging: Dwellers - Pagan Fruit

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
May 24th 2013



3336 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I find this slightly better than The Octopus, because it's more concise. Octopus was too much, but had some stronger tracks. Glad someone finally reviewed this, I really like the record. Matmos (which is one of their best songs so far), Where The River Goes, Between Today And Yesterday and Extra Vehicular are really good. However, I do agree with you that this feels a bit rushed and the cover is average.

Also, merge the sentences throughout the paragraphs, because it looks a bit disjointed this way. I understand you tried to separate your ideas, but it works better as a whole. You could use apostrophe for track names and italics for the album title, this way the two can be better distinguished.

Digging: Anberlin - Lowborn

Mad.
May 24th 2013



3587 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

^^ People say The Octopus was too long, but I don't really feel that... it's meant to be an epic and there isn't a single bad track on it.

Thanks for the advice but I kinda like it with the spaces ;)

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
May 24th 2013



3336 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You can do however you want, it was just an opinion.

I agree with you, some of the songs there are really strong, but this is easier to digest. Echo Street was the first record I heard from these guys (I know I suck, I wasn't aware of them until a month ago or so) and from here I checked back their discography. Maybe that's why I like it more. The same thing happened to me with Porcupine Tree: I love The Incident (again, the record that introduced me to them), when others feel it's lacking, but that's another story.

Mad.
May 24th 2013



3587 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Fair enough, this probably is the easiest to digest of their albums. Make sure you check their debut, it's golden

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
May 24th 2013



3336 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, I have listened to it. Motorhead, UFOs, Airborne, Panzer and Post Acid Youth are my favorites.

Mad.
May 24th 2013



3587 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Damn, 3.5 on The Octopus? You gotta give it some relistens man, takes a while to grow

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
May 24th 2013



3336 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I will, but after a couple of listens it was a 3.5. However, at such length and complexity it will most probably grow on me.

Mad.
May 24th 2013



3587 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, it's definitely one of those. Keep listening to Interstellar, The Sick Rose, Golden Ratio and Forever and More those'r some brilliant tracks.

Come on, no more comments? Surely someone's got something I say about the review or the album?!

sjp55555
May 28th 2013



85 Comments


Been on the fence about picking this up. Loved Octopus, self titled even the Insider. First half of this sounds interesting but second half sounds uninspired.

Mad.
May 29th 2013



3587 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's more like the good songs being sandwiched between the... not-so-good songs.
1,3,4 and 7 are the stronger tracks.

audiosmurf
June 30th 2013



56 Comments


i dont think this is their weakest album at all, its just so different. to me it screams porcupine tree, which is definitely a good thing. between today and yesterday is the shit btw.

Mad.
June 30th 2013



3587 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, the change in direction could be good but they haven't found their feet with it yet. I miss the killer riffs though :/

KerfuffleinaHussle
June 30th 2013



740 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Loved the debut enough to review it, one of my all-time favourites.

Astronaut was meh, Octopus I just couldnt get into, the music was good but the lyrics were just too...idk

I mean its cool that this doesnt sound like an 80s Star Trek theme tune and the fancy new Kscope packaging is all well and good but musically this is just dull...starting to think the debut will never be matched

Mad.
June 30th 2013



3587 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Damn man The Octopus is an absolute killer for me, imo better than the debut. More variety and... Interstellar.

I got your review flagged as the main album review btw ;)

KerfuffleinaHussle
June 30th 2013



740 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I need to sit down and listen to it properly some day, start to finish, both CD's. I bought the disc so no excuse really. I remember particularly liking Interstellar yeah, as well as The Sick Rose, Interglacial Spell and the closers to both CD's. The rest lost me a bit, but it probably needs more growing time than I gave it.

Ahhh cheers mate! I only just realised this is your review too aha, threw a pos your way I totally agree on the comments about the song structure of 'The Wheel' too, I noticed that as well, felt so lazy

Mad.
June 30th 2013



3587 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Pos appreciated, that 1 was looking lonely.

Every Octopus song is great but the ones you mentioned are the best, as well as Golden Ratio. Forever & More is perhaps the best closer I've ever heard

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
June 30th 2013



15802 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Heard a few tracks when it came out and i wasn't that impressed, seemed a letdown after Octopus, i'll probably give it another try.
Nice review tho, pos.

Digging: Synaesthesia (UK) - Synaesthesia

RadicalEd
August 16th 2013



2555 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Matmos is very good. The rest not so much though. It's alright.

Digging: Depth Connection - Fever Dreams

Mad.
August 16th 2013



3587 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

That's pretty much this album in a sentence



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