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Motorpsycho - The Tower album review

Tower of power

Cover art for Motorpsycho - The Tower album

Named after Russ Meyer’s 1965 sex-and-splatter-fest, Motorpsycho have been Norway’s foremost hard rock band since being formed in 1989 by bassist-singer Bent Saether and guitaristvocalist Hans Magnus Ryan, releasing over 20 albums (notably 1993’s Demon Box and 2006’s Black Hole/Blank Canvas).

Joined by new drummer Tomas Jarmyr, this follow-up to 2016’s Here Be Monsters is epic in every sense, its finely wrought missives sometimes stretching over 15 minutes and straddling early Crimson-style monolithic doom riffs, episodic Magma complexity, psychedelic balladry and stoner bludgeoning, topped by harmonised vocals worthy of Yes or CSN.

Full-bore blasters such as the Satan’s penis-mongering The Cuckoo, the Wagnerian swarm of Bartok Of The Universe and the 21st Century Schizoid Man recalling title track were recorded at LA’s White Buffalo studio. Calmer sessions at a Joshua Tree recording ranch then allowed more reflective outings such as Stardust and The Maypole.

Most seat-clenching is the colossal Van Der Graaf-style dogfight of Ship Of Fools and the cosmic extrapolations of Intrepid Explorer, while A Pacific Sonata star-sails transcendent spaceways to vistas usually traversed by Carlos Santana.

Motorpsycho’s followers will hold this panoramic masterwork as a career peak, and it may even win some new disciples. A tower worth climbing.

Kris Needs is a British journalist and author, known for writings on music from the 1970s onwards. Previously secretary of the Mott The Hoople fan club, he became editor of ZigZag in 1977 and has written biographies of stars including Primal Scream, Joe Strummer and Keith Richards. He's also written for MOJO, Record Collector, Classic Rock, Prog, Electronic Sound, Vive Le Rock and Shindig!