Review Summary: The gift that keeps on giving
You could say Motorpsycho have been on a roll for the past 15 years. Not one misstep to be found and rarely a year passes by without new music out. We barely had time to accommodate with the brilliant The All Is One
when the guys already announced a brand new record. Admittedly, Kingdom of Oblivion
started out as a hard rock LP, but considering the band’s course this past decade, it inevitably developed various twists and turns in the process. A significant amount of the songs here were recorded together with the aforementioned double album, so expect a familiar approach in sound and structure. Nevertheless, a number of experiments have been included too, creating one dynamic ride again. At this point in their career, the trio is in full control even when testing waters.
Although shorter than its predecessor, Kingdom of Oblivion
feels considerably denser overall. There are a handful of epics which deliver the riffs and go through all those trademark Motorpsycho moments. Highlights include ‘The United Debased’, ‘The Transmutation of Cosmoctopus Lurker’ and ‘At Empire’s End’. The former brings forth a smooth main groove with catchy vocals, complete with a powerful guitar solo that shifts halfway into a darker, more intriguing segment. There are fewer electronic elements, as the band focused on the punch of their instruments. The last couple of minutes speed up the tempo and become chunkier tone-wise. There isn’t one clear climax, each part expanding on its own instead. Meanwhile, ‘The Transmutation of Cosmoctopus Lurker’ channels their psychedelic strengths, offering a slight return to the Little Lucid Moments
era. The results are slightly messier on purpose and I dig the noisy riffs and busy drumming. After so many tight songs, this one comes across as a breath of fresh air. Moreover, ‘At Empire’s End’ shares a moodier vibe, using those folksy bit Bent loves as a starting point amid grandiose, Mellotron-led rhythms. The latter might have stemmed from successful jam sessions, since the trio left considerable room for the instrumental to unfold.
The remaining, shorter tracks provide some needed diversity to Kingdom of Oblivion
. At the album’s core lie three interesting ditties which might raise some brows upon initial listening. The band’s take on Motorhead’s ‘The Watcher’ begins with a round of noise, before the bass line and muffled vocals quietly play in the background until overtaken by it again. On the other hand, ‘Dreamkiller’ features gentle acoustic touches and Bent’s soft croon, only to be interrupted by pounding drums and sharp guitar licks. Things turn louder by the minute, maintaining the same pattern. This experiment reaches an end with ‘Atet’, a theatrical, folksy coda. It’s like experiencing a sonic equivalent to a fever dream, but I definitely enjoyed it. ‘Lady May’ & ‘The Hunt’ lay on the other side of the acoustic spectrum, boasting some lovely melodies, whereas ‘Cormorant’ closes the ride with a thoughtful, lounge tinged atmosphere.
In the end, Kingdom of Oblivion
seems to position itself in between phases. It’s like a half step away from the Gullvåg trilogy. The songs are just as strong and powerful, although quite familiar at times. Despite this thought, I must admit I thoroughly enjoy listening to this album. Bonus points for the acoustic moments, which are more interesting than on The All Is One
. Motorpsycho raised the expectations bar so high and continue to hold it up there. You can only criticize small details, but overall, this is another excellent journey in their catalog.