Motorpsycho are now 30 years and 22 albums (excluding live albums and sundry collaborations) into their multi-faceted existence. As you would expect from such seasoned veterans, everything they release exudes an easy confidence, but perhaps more unexpectedly they still manage to surprise. This band never release the same album twice, and although there is a thematic link to last year’s sprawling operatic opus The Tower, we soon realise that we are entering the gaping maw of a new and distinctive prog rock monster, going by the name of The Crucible.
Psychotzar opens proceedings with a fist fight between Yes at their most energised and Black Sabbath. Neither seems to be getting the upper hand so they call it quits, snort a pile of spacedust and let the music do the talking. The riff is quite relentless over which some killer lead lines fly around like shards of white-hot sunspit. It’s getting quite warm in here.
Musing on mortality and our place in the grand scheme of things, as is the wont of anyone over 50, sets the tone as our Nordic warriors call out from the lyrics of the satisfyingly cosmic Lux Aeterna. It is a song that lulls the listener into a sense of false cosiness, when out of nowhere, just over halfway into its eleven minutes a thoroughly barking guitar solo knocks you off your feet at 120 mph, sounding uncannily like a scuzzy outtake from Grace For Drowning. If Mr Wilson was wielding a chain in a Viking biker gang from Mars, he might sound like this. Soon, Mellotrons struggle manfully and eventually succeed in stamping the melody back on this bucking bronco of a tune, as guitars froth and strain at the leash.
There are only three tracks on this album, at nine, eleven, and a staggering twenty one minutes respectively. The Prog Button has been pushed, and I noted a couple of cheeky references nicked from the Mighty Crim along the way, as well as the other references I mentioned, but this remains a trip on the travel-worn but reliable and instantly recognisable Motorpsycho mothership. There is weirdness aplenty in the mid-section of the lumbering propulsive beast of a title track, a monster that lays waste to entire galaxies as it careens about the universe. There is no let up in the energy these wily old creatures shoot at you through the speakers, the guitar fury of Snah driven by the thunderous rhythm section of Bent and Tomas exuding the toughness of an experienced prizefighter. Somehow, you can’t ever imagine this band touring 45 year-old albums on cruise ships, or anywhere else for that matter, for I suspect they will always be looking forwards.
Will they win new fans with this fine slab of sound called The Crucible? Maybe, maybe not, but frankly I doubt they care, such is the self-contained nature of this Norwegian lumbertruck of a band. If you wish your favourite ancient prog band still had the balls and inspiration to make relevant new music, or that modern prog was a bit… dirtier, then you’ll love this, is all I’m saying.
01. Psychotzar (8:43)
02. Lux Aeterna (10:55)
03. The Crucible (20:51)
Total Time – 40:29
Hans Magnus “Snah” Ryan – Guitars, Vocals
Bent Sæther – Bass, Vocals, Electronica
Tomas Järmyr – Drums
Lars Horntveth – Reeds (track 2)
Susanna Wallumrød – Vocals (track 2)