Amplifier - The Octopus

Tom Reed 02/02/2011

Rating: 3.5/5

Amplifier are clearly not a band for whom half-heartedness will do. This double album can only be described as a labour of love for the band, coming over four years after last record The Insider. Around the time of their debut album, Amplifier were seen as kindred spirits of bands like Muse and My Vitriol: ambition heavy space rock for teenage rocker kids to get stoned to. While Muse pointed their spaceship towards the big football stadium in the sky and My Vitriol disappeared, Amplifier kept on making the epic, overblown music they enjoy, with no concession to fashion or fad.

The Octopus is made up of 16 tracks and clocks in at a solid 2 hours, and the kitchen sink has most definitely been left in along with anything else the band could find. Following the Floyd-like opening sound collage of The Runner, this album is a stream of riff upon galaxy-sized riff. Interglacial Spell bases itself on a lurching, militarised rhythm, and The Wave has a surprisingly poppy, finger-clicking chorus section that breaks up the bombast nicely.

Let's face it, the band isn't going to shrug off the “prog” tag with a double album, but the songs themselves fit this description easily. Lyrically, Balamir ticks all the space rock boxes, taking trips to 'distant suns' and calling on 'masters of the universe'. It is all a bit Dungeons & Dragons, but suits the musical pomposity well.

The title track shifts from doomy atmospherics into yet more crunching riffage. The old clichés about double albums being too big to digest in one go do hold true here, especially when some tracks push easily towards and past the ten- minute mark. The brilliantly titled Trading Dark Matter On The Stock Exchange fails to live up to its name, being directionless and excessive despite the mass over-indulgence that surrounds it.

The second disc isn't quite as memorable as the first, with the possible exception of the energetic, strong melodies of Golden Ratio, but the most impressive thing about this record is its depth. Yes it is huge, seemingly impenetrable at first, but break this album down and you will find much to enjoy here.

Release Date 14/01/2011