Review Summary: An early contender for the best heavy psychedelic album of the year.
It seems that with each decade start Motorpsycho successfully reinvent themselves and churn out new career highlights. Their continuous, chameleonic approach to any genre from metal to pop, country and jazz has been immensely rewarding for almost 30 years now. While the '90s brought us the expansive Blissard
and Timothy's Monster
, the early '00s produced the exquisite jazz/pop-derived Phanerothyme
and Let Them Eat Cake
. Most recently, these prolific Norwegians have recorded two strong hard rock pieces, Heavy Metal Fruit
and Still Life With Eggplant
, plus the expansive, orchestral jazz-rock journey, entitled The Death Defying Unicorn
. This year, they return with Behind The Sun
, another collection of harder edged material that continues their winning streak.
Finding hidden gems where one might think it's least possible, Motorpsycho once again utilize the bulk of leftover ideas that didn't find their way on Unicorn
. While its predecessor was a shorter, more immediate affair, Behind The Sun
needs a bit more time to get under your skin due to the broader musical scope and longer time span. Even though some songs aren't that hard to digest, others are more attention demanding and complex. The best example is 'Hell, Part 4-6', a progressive piece that starts off with haunting strings, followed by quiet, acoustic guitar strums. These become the foundation for the groovy bass and dueling guitar solos which make up the infectious first half. Somber synthesizers and lush strings mark a shift midway through, unraveling patiently until everything bursts into a brilliant finale. This is hands down one of the best tunes the band has come up with yet. The song is beautifully arranged with every segment being extremely well honed. Meanwhile, the instrumental shred fest, 'Kvaestor' is another undoubted highlight. The heavy riffing and manic drumming are backed by a peculiar, mechanical soundscape which exerts a discordant effect when put together with the rest of the instruments. This gives the song a cartoonish feel as the whole thing sounds like Super Furry Animals hopping on the psychedelic hard rock train.
Since these guys can never resist adding some straightforward rockers (and for the better of it!), there are some really cool cuts like 'The Promise', whose main riff rekindles Monster Magnet's early classic tune, 'Medicine', yet the band put their own touch with the distorted bass, crunchy guitars and some nice mellotron touches in the background. Still, the hardest hitting number is the epic finale, 'Hell, Part 7: Victim Of Rock', where they unleash the fuzz on their twisted leads. There's a lot of improvisation over locked rhythms and the gang vocals used give the track even more power. They are very similar to the first part of the Hell saga found on Still Life With Eggplant
, thus linking the two efforts as one large entity and giving a sense of closure.
On each record Motorpsycho usually frame certain musical concepts tight and accurately follow them until the last second. However, since Behind The Sun
is simply a collection of standalone tracks, it manages to capture several sides of the band, giving a great glimpse of what they're all about these days. Besides the heavy riffing, there are a couple of lovely, dreamy tunes such as the opener, 'Cloudwalker' or 'Entropy'. The former gets things in motion with sunny guitars and melodic vocals before it grows into a more powerful jam with a shouted chorus, while the latter boasts a mellow tone, resembling the '70s output of Pink Floyd with its folk approach and flashy solos. Also, 'Ghost' leaves the guitars in the background in favor of a deep bass rhythm complete with nostalgic strings and a droning piano lead. Synthesizers add a lot to the atmosphere while Bent's quiet croon gently finds its way through to the listener's ears. These gorgeous cuts help to craft a more tender side of this balanced record.
In the end, each Motorpsycho fan will have something to truly enjoy from this excellent effort. There aren't many bands who can keep their material at such high quality for such a long time. The act's formulas are constantly changing yet the trademark catchiness and grooves are always there. Fusing these qualities has proven to be a really wise choice as there is so much to explore within only an hour of music. Moreover, the presence of a second guitar player, Reine Fiske, gives a welcome boost to the overall sound. The group should consider keeping him as a constant member as he's a perfect fit for them. Behind The Sun
is an early contender for the best heavy psychedelic album of the year, and a mandatory listen for any rock fan.