Roll up! Roll up! Come and hear amazing kaleidoscopic soundscapes and exotically intimate adventures. Come explore the fascinating realm of Mystoria.
Maybe that is a little carnival like in its call, but that is just how the new album from UK rock band Amplifier captures and excites senses and imagination. There is drama to songs and the band’s creative presence which is pure theatre yet it does not defuse or shadow the sublimely crafted and textured slices of songwriting and their imagination driven emprise. The album is glorious, a series of inventive and emotional explorations which provide a carnival of fun and evocative delights; quite simply it is one of the year’s biggest treats.
Formed in 1999, the Manchester band has been no slouches in providing attention grabbing and passion rousing releases, the success of their 2011 epic exploration The Octopus and the more intimate and purer rock hearted Echo Street from last year, the pinnacles to date of the band’s relentlessly evolving and tenacious invention and sound. The last album also marked the appearance of the band’s current line-up of vocalist Sel Balamir and drummer Matt Brobin alongside the newer members of former Oceansize guitarist Steve Durose and bassist Alex Redhead. The quartet return with a release which in many ways combines those previous albums whilst casting its own unique character and twist in the band’s creativity. It is grand in its theatre and expansive imagination yet provides a stripped down blend of progressive rock and metal with psychedelic space rock in comparison to earlier releases and undoubtedly The Octopus. Their first release with Superball Music, Amplifier has cast an impressive pebble into the pool of rock ‘n’ roll with Mystoria, one sure to send ripples shimmering through the passions of genre and fans for a long time.
From the opening electrified sizzle of first track Magic Carpet, thoughts and anticipation are aroused through its striking stroking of the senses. Keen emotions swiftly follow as jabbing beats and a great throaty bass lure adds to the coaxing whilst guitars weave extra sonic design and temptation to the track’s canvas. It is soon in full striding glory and as quickly has seduced the imagination and captured the passions with its emerging rampant enterprise and fluid shifts in sound and presence. There is a familiarity to the piece too, though for no open reason, but it just adds another twist to the unique and gripping entrance to the album, a mighty start soon reinforced by Black Rainbow. The second track ripples with sinew driven riffs and just as pungent rhythms which combine for a potent stomp of rock ‘n’ roll. Balamir’s vocals equally seduce attention and pleasure, his voice mellow yet accompanied by a slight snarl which varies his delivery superbly to match the brewing tempest of sound around him. Equally varied is the gait of the song, sultry slower passages as impacting and imagination sparking as the rampant charge around them.
Things only grow and increase in potency and magnetism as Named After Rocky and the brilliant Cat’s Cradle step up next. The first of the pair has a seventies glaze to the vocals and aligning melodies, a folkish rock breath tempering and working superbly with its otherwise muscular stroll. Instantly and relentlessly infectious and riveting in its melodic escapade, the song bewitches but soon is in the shade of its masterful successor. Cat’s Cradle is simple sensational, its initial simple repetitive riff an irresistible lure alone which then leads into a seductive tapestry of smiling melodies matched by the outstanding vocals. There is a swagger to the song which only ignites body and emotions as it dances provocatively and creatively around ears. A feel of KingBathmat also flavours the song, which is not the last time that thought arises across Mystoria, both bands having a strain of creative revelry and ingenuity which is uniquely British. The best track on the album it is a masterstroke of contagious enterprise.
Bride is another piece of musical alchemy, its more subdued, but no less creatively energetic and addictive presence providing a tapestry of melodic and vocal caresses entwined with feisty sonic flames. The track serenades ears and thoughts whilst sparking body and emotions to partake in its festivity. The relatively gentle canter of the song is embraced by Open Up., though there is a slightly more serious breath to the presence of the song, a more shadowed element to its celestial air and space rock intrigue which again makes for a transfixing provocateur.
The compelling OMG comes next, its riveting drama in sound flirting with the imagination relentlessly. It is a delicious weave of noir kissed adventure which binds the listener in its sinister but irresistible climate as another pinnacle emerges within the lofty heights of Mystoria. As with all songs though, it is hard to fully portray the creative depths within the lean bodies they are encased in, each exploring with a bordering on mischievous inventiveness and passion.
The album is completed by firstly the intimately and elegant beauty of Crystal Mountain, a song painting an enthralling expansive scenery with minimal fuss and weight, and finally the muscular but no less bracing and captivating Crystal Anthem. Both tracks bring a stunning release to a powerful and invigorating close with class and imagination, Mystoria as a whole easily one of the year’s richest adventures.
Mystoria is available now via Superball Music digitally, and as vinyl, Cd, and CD Media Book versions, the last including two extra tracks.
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