Front man and main brain behind the mighty England-based progressive rockers Amplifier would possibly admit that he wasn’t prepared for the pivotal impact ex-Oceansize guitarist Steve Durose and bassist Alex ‘Magnum’ Redhead would have when they joined the line-up. Since they added their abilities and talent to the music the quartet have certainly been prolific.
Mystoria doesn’t signal extended virtuosity and lengthy twisting and turning epic song structures, instead it contains ten tracks which all fall into sensible and accessible durations. Whether you feel the sense of the Monster Magnet comparison on Black Rainbow or appreciate the attraction with the single Named after Rocky, this is an impressive album and follows in the footsteps of quality delivered on previous outings The Octopus and Echo Street.
Complex and spacious arrangements wrap themselves around the essence of both Cat’s Cradle and Bride giving the listener a different overview of what the band can produce. The opening instrumental (Magic Carpet) kick starts the album investing familiarity in conjunction with a sense of restrained drama and is okay, although it won’t get too many listeners reaching for a sharp drink to calm the nerves.
The all-encompassing flavor on Mystoria is drama unfolding as it zigzags through a distorted chicane made of emotional expression. This can best be identified once your ears travel through Open Up and OMG as Amplifier stretch their integral creative muscles further. The latter of these two songs opens up with an almost modern bombastic nod to King Crimson.
Underlying all performances is an earthy vibe to the sound which echoes their Manchester environment, somehow capturing an urban spirit disregarding whether they’re pushing a galloping rhythm or lighting scented candles and tapping their psychedelic attributes. Taking onboard these contrasting tempos, Crystal Mountain and Crystal Anthem bring a close to this latest studio set and in doing so openly share their relationship with each other.
Caught between the gentle and fragile at times but also confronting strides of swirling excitement, Mystoria will please their established fan-base without alienating anyone else who wishes to join the party. Equal measures of melody and technical ability skip hand-in-hand amongst a circus of influences and well-trodden forays. Rejoice once more as this English progressive rock band unveil another collection of glimpses into their ever-evolving musical landscape.