Motorpsycho
The Crucible


4.0
excellent

Review

by Raul Stanciu STAFF
February 16th, 2019 | 39 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Delving deeper into prog rock territory...

Motorpsycho show absolutely no signs of wear at the dawn of their 30th anniversary. Never ones to conform to anything but their own visions and sonic paths, the Norwegian trio is currently experiencing another rejuvenation. This started the moment drummer Tomas Järmyr sat behind the kit, allowing the guys to explore new musical territories. The man has already shown us on the brilliant The Tower how diverse can he be and that was after only a few months of jamming together (still, let us not forget or downplay Kenneth Kapstadt’s similar effect on MP’s output during the late ‘00s). A year later, accustomed to Bent Sæther and Snah’s styles, he was truly ready to showcase his skills on what became the latest album in the act’s discography.

The Crucible takes its cues from The Tower in all the ways, but delves deeper into progressive rock territory. Overall, you can include it amid the epic deliveries of The Death Defying Unicorn, Little Lucid Moments and its predecessor (obviously). For those who aren’t familiar with these older records, the music is influenced mainly by Black Sabbath, King Crimson and Yes. Clocking in at 40 minutes, the guys kept things tight and on point. Although there are just three tracks, they make it up by leaving you a gnarly journey to explore. Opener ‘Psychotzar’ is definitely the easiest tune to digest. The chunky riffs & guitar solos dominate here, whereas singalongs, mellotron leads, grand gongs splashes and cowbells gloriously join them. During the second half, things start to complicate a bit. A twisted jam takes off and Järmyr pounds the drums heavier by the minute, until everything falls into a quiet detour. Tension builds through uneasy chord progressions, so they ultimately burst back into a punchy yet poignant guitar motif that ends the song. This is that classic barn burner each of their works shares.

The two remaining beasts, ‘Lux Aeterna’ and the title cut express better the weirdness described by Bent in interviews preceding the release. The former begins as a rather mournful acoustic ditty, whose sound keeps intertwining with the tune’s major parts. It slowly progresses into the majestic main segment, again beautifully augmented by mellotron touches. There’s a lovely cinematic vibe flowing throughout, especially when the vocals pitch in. Halfway through, a piano interrupts everything and soon we’re thrown into a jazzy vertigo, where a saxophone solo tops everyone playing. The drum and bass interplay is stellar and even though I’m not a fan of the genre, I can say I thoroughly enjoyed being surprised by these jazzy leanings. As soon as they returned to the powerful part, I realized this is for me the best number on The Crucible. I love the atmosphere and how smooth each instrument was arranged in the mix. Close behind is the title track, covering the entire second half of the album. After a faux alternative rock rhythm tease (I thought this start would be a throwback to late mid ‘00s material), Järmyr performs a dozen of busy drum patterns and variations, over which the guys rip through the scales. Five minutes in and multiple twists later, we’ve finally reached to the gist of the song. Echoing ‘The Tower’, the verses are initially accompanied solely by clean bass and guitar embellishments. Things, however, gradually grow in intensity, before a wall of noise interferes over the mechanical groove. I wasn’t expecting such a contrasting feature to be used, still, it’s a great addition. It echoes in a way the lyrical content that expresses their discontent with the political, economic or social issues (available for the entire album). More guitar solos can be heard upon reverting to a variation of the opening sonic idea, while Sæther & Tomas push forward their intricate meshing. As expected, the coda is epic, but then again, the entire album works at a high level of detail, as well as musical prowess.

Some might consider The Crucible a tad pretentious even by Motorpsycho’s standards. Nevertheless, it’s a natural step further from The Tower, a move that was made available by their current drummer. This can be a polarizing LP, especially for fans who are turned on by their poppier side (myself included) or ‘90s works. In spite of that, I believe this musical vertigo is actually a minutely crafted conceptual piece that represents a peak in their career. Keeping in tune with their shape shifting trips, you can just sit this one out if it doesn’t sink in. I am sure it won’t be long until we receive another highlight offering a different sound too.



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user ratings (35)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
February 16th 2019


4747 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Another excellent album from Motorpsycho. It's not their most fun/catchy material, but I admire them for pushing boundaries again and leveling up their skills.



'Psychotzar' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEGbXRgKPbA

'Lux Aeterna' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bxb00OQEhJA

'The Crucible' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYiQ5-iy4xA

Digging: Asthma Castle - Mount Crushmore

SharkTooth
February 16th 2019


13965 Comments


Sweet! A new Motorpsycho!

ChaoticVortex
February 17th 2019


755 Comments


Gotta love how consistent and prolific these guys are.

DoofDoof
February 17th 2019


2226 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Consistently 3.5 ☝️

Digging: Jungsttter - Love Is

Mad.
February 17th 2019


4746 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Was so hyped for this. It's solid, but does kind of just feel like Motorpsycho doing more of the same at this stage rather than the experimentation that was promised (though more of the same is always above average for them).



Am starting to think peak period for Motorpsycho is Heavy Metal Fruit through to Behind The Sun, with everything after moving forward in smaller steps. Kenneth Kapstad was such a cornerstone of those albums and while Järmyr is excellent, I feel like his drumming is less nuanced... where's his equivalent of Kvæstor??



Like you've said, the album this feels most like is probably Little Lucid Moments - the guitar/drums have been a bit simpler and tighter since The Tower, and I do miss the loose/jammy/abstract side of their early 2010s albums which I felt was their defining feature.



I suppose I'm hoping for them to break some truly new ground like they were doing with Fruit/Unicorn, but maybe they're entering the Comfortable Later Period?? Who knows with Motorpsycho though, anything could be around the corner



Fun album tho

Mad.
February 17th 2019


4746 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Double post rip

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2019


4747 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yes, since Heavy Metal Fruit they've headedinto this prog rock bonanza that keeps expanding. They reached a point where the pop parts are drowned by the proggy ones. I don't think they'll stay much more time in these waters and they still seem eager to experiment.



Jarmyr is great for this phase IMO, especially for their jazzy leanings, but when I saw them live he played the '90s material really tight. I hope they'll revert to a more straightforward or catchier direction sooner than later.

DoofDoof
February 17th 2019


2226 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Not bad in so far it's an obvious attempt at recording their version of 'Dark Side of the Moon' (by way of Sabbath).

DoofDoof
February 17th 2019


2226 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Plus some Crimson

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
February 17th 2019


15099 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks for reviewing this insomniac, nice!



And shit didn't know Kenneth left the band, I thought he was doubling with Spidergawd. Kind of makes sense though. I love Kenneth but gotta say Tomas Järmyr is a beast. The drums really stand out on this. Aside from that, one of the best things they've done, in love with this album.

Digging: Deafkids - Metaprogramao

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
February 17th 2019


14733 Comments


putting this on the 2019 list...

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
February 18th 2019


4747 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks! Yeah, Kenneth left the band in 2016 after the Here Be Monsters tour. No reasons mentioned. They've been playing more '90s material live ever since. Saw them last year and 'Taifun' was insane.

Ecnalzen
February 18th 2019


8092 Comments


Thinking about diving into a few albums from this band. Commenting for self reminder.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
February 18th 2019


4747 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Wise choice!

tcat84
February 18th 2019


1230 Comments


This band is so underrated. They have a few albums that don't live up to the hype in the early 2000's but if you like anything on the prog/alt/pyschadelic rock spectrum this band has so many great albums.

Only 46k listeners on Spotify. Granted they don't tour much outside of Europe so that might be why the limited exposure.

Ecnalzen
February 18th 2019


8092 Comments


I listened to some of Heavy Metal Fruit the other day and it definitely got my interest.

They have so many albums, it's hard to decide what all to try out. Maybe I will just start with the 4+ rated stuff and go from there.

Ecnalzen
February 18th 2019


8092 Comments


Hot damn, that is still at least 8 albums.

So much music.

Ikarus14
February 18th 2019


1292 Comments


Hmm, this sounds tasty. How have I not heard of these guys before?

Digging: Steven Wilson - Hand. Cannot. Erase.

TheSpaceMan
February 18th 2019


11877 Comments


havent heard anything after behind the sun. shame, no idea why

Kompys2000
February 19th 2019


2366 Comments


Probably gonna wait a bit to check this since it's not available on Bandcamp, Soundcloud or YouTube, but I'm listening to The Tower now and I have to say I'm pretty impressed. Kinda reminds me of King Gizzard but with more testosterone and less pointless wanking.



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