Review Summary: Recreational and psycho-active fun
When discovering a new band out of the blue it is often times helpful to also take note of the genre they fall under; doing so can certainly help prepare you for many surprises and lay down (often false) expectations. Motorspycho are labeled as a psychedelic rock band and I believe this is a very simplified, albeit fitting title. Despite the band often venturing into obvious realms of jazz, sludge metal, and other extreme influences, they remain fundamentally consistent in providing ethereal backdrops wrapped in a groovy desert-rock like package. Being around since the early 80s this Norwegian collective has since released a respectable collection of unique albums that have earned them a major cult following and acclaim for their successful experimentation. Their music constantly shifts styles and flairs between each album, leaving 2010’s Heavy Metal Fruit
Opting to continue the jazz-influenced route the band began to pursue in its later years, the guitar on Heavy Metal Fruit
blends classic hard rock-style riffage with groovy accents and polishes. The banshee-like wailing of the singer bears resemblance (and most likely an influence from) from Ozzy Osborne, Axl Rose and other hard-rock legends of the past. The bass work is as solid as one would expect in a release praised highly for its swings and grooves, as are the drum patterns and fills. A major player in the mix is also the keys, which help to paint a nicely layered backdrop to the music.
“Starhammer” begins this album with a minute of silence before dropping into a groovy guitar riff complimented with a synth line straight out of the 70s. As if done to grab your attention, the riff is abandoned in favor of a more Sabbath-like doom metal oriented riff in just a few seconds. This is where Motorpsycho introduce the first moment of vocals on the album, which may take time to adjust to. However as the song progresses one will start to notice an oddity: a “quirk” in the way the vocals are presented. It isn’t until the initial riff of the album is played once more over the same outdated synth line that we realize this oddity isn’t apparent in just the vocals, but is also found in the musicianship as well. As Motorpsycho proceed to melt into a jazzy and psychedelic soundscape of steady snare and glossy guitar licks, the prevailing juxtaposition the band is attempting to create here begins to unearth.
Like the substances the music derives from, the band manages to combine fun and immaturity with serious and surreal effects derived from psychedelic soundscapes. There is no denying Motorpsycho clearly know how to handle their stuff, with top-notch musicianship shown throughout Heavy Metal Fruit’s hour long playtime. However they manage to completely avoid the pretentiousness and excess inherit in a lot of music written in the same vein by bringing in a sense of adolescent qualities. A perfect example of this duality can be found on the second track “X-3 (Knuckleheads in Space) / The Getaway Special”. The first half of the song follows suit with the name, with a fast paced rock vibe played along with humorous and catchy lyrics that seem to be about getting as high as humanly possible. The raw fun found in the lyrics and theme coupled with the adrenaline of the guitar riff help take advantage of the band’s unique vocals. However as the song progresses, Motorpsycho start to spiral out into another breakdown of psychedelic trance and jazzy guitar. In doing so, the Norweigen rock band create a harmonizing amalgamation of stoner-rock Kyuss and space-rock Pink Floyd.
Each song on this album sits in a rightful place, and it’s hard to hold any gripe with a single one of them. The record is evenly mixed with insanely catchy doom riffs, uplifting vocals that keep the music from dragging on, and progressive goldmines of psychedelic lounge music. However, the middle section of the final four part song “Gulible’s Travails” tends drag on with its cheesy lyrics and an unnecessary guest appearance providing weak female vocals. It’s a shame, as the intro and closing parts to this song are some of the strongest points of the album, especially in the bass department. Despite this flaw, Motorpsycho have managed to craft an accessible trip into a world they have clearly mastered; one filled with cosmic trance and quirky fun that have you remembering why you’re enticed to it in the first place: being completely messed up to the point of practically being in outer-space can be a great freakin’ time.