Review by Rick Ossian
According to Sel Balamir (guitar, vocals), Amplifier‘s latest set, ‘Live In Barcelona 2013‘, is ‘more like a bootleg’ than an actual live release/recording. To be honest, it sounds every bit like any good live recording I’ve ever heard, particularly if you are an Amplifier fan (or a Hawkwind fan). Accompanying Monsieur Balamir in his aggregation’s endeavors are Steve Durose (also on guitar and vocals), Matt Brobin on drums, Alex ‘Magnum’ Redhead on bass and vocals, and Charlie Barnes (guitar, keys, vocals, ‘and also some prancing’). Prepare yourselves, folks, for we are on a trip ‘to another dimension’, as we hear on The Wave. Out into the stratosphere we go, presumably to a Hawk-fest of some sort or another, and consequently being beamed to us directly from Spain!
Mary Rose is an exercise in atmospherics, bass and vocals (and drums at the 3-minute mark). At 4:30, things really begin to kick in. Much of the same could be said of The Wave, mentioned above. This is more of an exercise in jamming, to be honest, than anything else. In my opinion, these cats are top-notch in that department. On with the show then!
Intergalacial Spell begins with a wall of guitar feedback, drums, and more feedback. About a minute or so in, the main guitar riff begins to hack into our brains. It is heavy, it is fat, and a bit out of place considering what we’ve been up against thus far – but somehow it just works. The vocals may seem a bit subdued (the unfortunate audio consequences of ‘being a bootleg‘, presumably), but it is a good tune nonetheless. The Wheel features a spacey-weird intro, and finds us going ‘round and round and round‘ in lovely fashion. There are no less than TWO guitar solos on this track, one about 3:30 and the next at about the six-minute mark. Both are nicely done. The first is big and nasty, a wah-drenched, feedback-driven monster. The second is much the same. Again they include the atmospherics (à la Acid Mothers Temple or Hawkwind or any other number of psych/heavy outfits).
Extra Vehicular, another track from the mighty Echo Street. Also featured are Mary Rose, The Wheel and Where The River Goes (go to their website for a free download of River), is a beauty – an absolute jam – and also turns into a near 14-minute behemoth! It begins mildly enough, but soon turns into a sonic wonderland. Motorhead is one of the few tracks here from their self-titled debut (also included are UFO’s, Panzer, Airborne, Old Movies and Neon). It has one hell of a signature riff and is, again, nicely done.
Interstellar (from the ever-mighty Octopus double-beastie album) has a heavy intro. The main riff hits you at about a minute in , and it IS fairly mellow. Let us not be dismayed, my little music freaks, because at the 3-minute mark things get heavy again. This is very good but needs consistency. Another bootleg factor, perhaps? UFO’s, by contrast, sounds like heavy metal and punk rock mixed together – but in a good way, and sounds reminiscent of Hawkwind again. It also sort of sounds like its title! Also from Octopus, Fall of the Empire is VERY heavy, sort of a slow thrash/sludge arrangement. I was again reminded of the Hawk men, but with a different twist, sort of a thrashy Amplifier with a Hawkwind vibe on the side…
Where The River Goes has sort of a classical intro, with some very neat harmonies. It gets a bit heavier as it goes. The ending may surprise you. Neon features a fingerpicking intro and some nice atmospherics. Panzer has sort of a slowed-down Motörhead vibe with a cool, Sabbath-y riff. Airborne is a cool jam with heavy riffing, and the phase-shifter kicks in at about the seven-and-a-half minute mark.
Close, the, erm, closing piece, was also the closer from the Sunriders EP (featured when purchasing a limited edition of Echo Street), is a bonus. It was recorded in Patronaat, Holland. It is a musical monster, with a percussive/bass-heavy intro, sort of a psych guitar solo at a minute in, then some heaviness at about six minutes in, then psych again, with a blistering guitar solo at 6:25. It is a bit mellower than the others, but still very well done.
Perhaps this is ‘more of a bootleg’ than a ‘genuine’ live recording. If that is the case, then I say bravo for bootlegs!
- Amplifier – Live in Barcelona 2013 (wyrdways.wordpress.com)
- Amplifier – Sunriders (wyrdways.wordpress.com)
- Monster Magnet – Last Patrol (wyrdways.wordpress.com)
- The Agent – Kingdom of Fear (wyrdways.wordpress.com)
- Alter Bridge – Fortress (wyrdways.wordpress.com)
- The Dead Daisies – The Dead Daisies (wyrdways.wordpress.com)