Review by Rick Ossian
This is the follow-up to the Manchester unit’s fourth full-length LP, Echo Street. They are now a more streamlined four-piece, featuring Sel Balamir (guitar, vocals), Steve Durose (guitar, vocals), Matt Brobin (drums) and Alex ‘Magnum Redhead (bass). According to their bio, the four-piece line-up “has delivered a subtle shift in style allowing them to mix their epic space-rock jams with accessible pieces boasting three-part harmonies”. They do sound as if they’ve scaled things back a bit since The Octopus (2011), which was a sprawling, 2-LP prog masterpiece. Of course, they’ve done a couple of records since then ( Echo Street, 2013 and 2012’s Hymn of the Aten – Eternity Show), and some things have changed.
On first listen, I found myself gravitating mostly towards the closing epic, erm, Close. At 7:47 it is by far the longest piece on offer here, but it is well worth spending the eight minutes to listen. This burgeoning progfest begins with a different sort of a drum intro, and soon turns from a spacey, dreamy number into a full-on, roaring, quasi- Hawkwind behemoth. Very fierce, especially around the five-minute mark when things really kick in. There is also a tasty guitar solo at around three-and-a-half minutes in. A fine tune to represent the current state of things in the Amplifier camp, then.
What of the other tracks, then, you might say? What indeed. Track number one, Spaceman, is true to form and its title, starting us off with an excellent, weird spacey keyboard intro. Some monster organ playing going on here. A well-played guitar solo comes in at about 2:20, and there are some lyrics foreshadowing what may be the end of the universe: “The stars exploded/ and spacemen died“. Sadly, but surely, there are no more spacemen for us to look up to. Inevitably, we yearn for our astronauts, even knowing that they are long gone. Let us hope not for good!
Sunriders features a very cool intro with an acoustic guitar figure, drums and vocals intertwining in a ‘golden fire’. “We’ve only just begun/To chase the long day down/Into the sun“. Something tells me we may hear a more realized version on the next long player. I will keep my fingers crossed.
Never and Always is a bit heavier, especially in the introduction. It soon turns into a (ulp!) light-pop, doo-wop number, however, which was a bit of a surprise, and not necessarily a pleasant one, either. Though I’m glad to see an EP following hot on the heels of the LP from earlier in the year (I believe Echo Street arrived in March), neither that nor this EP come close to the mighty Octopus. Looking forward to hearing the next installment, but not as impressed with this one in particular.
- Trainwreck Architect – Traits of the Sick (wyrdways.wordpress.com)