Ancient Astronauts – reviews

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  • #40299

    @Johnny: Hehe, this engages me ;) I was born 1974 and got into heavy metal when hearing "The number of the beast" 1983. Fave bands were Iron Maiden, Accept, Twisted Sister, Scorpions, Manowimp etc. By 1989 I was "finished" with the "standard heavy metal" (mentioned bands), because I wanted other stuff (mostly thrash metal, hardcore, crossover and soon death metal and grindcore, but also lots of of other genres).

    Luckily I didn't get rid of my old records, and from around 2000 until this day, I've actually thought albums like "Restless and wild", "The last in line", "Defenders of the faith", "Knights of the new thunder" and "Fire down under" (among others) are even better now than I thought when I as a kid totally loved them! And no, I'm not mixing this up with nostalgia – I've analyzed it :lol:

    And yes, it's easy to say that I like heavy metal, but I also really despise most of it. This is simply applicable to all genres – I love less than a tiny little percentage of it, and think the majority is crap. My Sade worship doesn't mean that I accept anything by Simply Red. Liking select albums by AC/DC, Rose Tattoo and Krokus never stops me from yawning my jaw dislocated at Airbourne :|

    But: my newfound (well, since the turn of the millennium) adoration for those awesome 80s heavy metal albums that I thought I was done and over with is pure rush.

    I'm not going anywhere with this, am I? I'm not even sure I even remotely touch what you wrote, as I intended to.

    Sorry for offtopicism!

    Anyway: looking forward as hell to "Ancient astronauts"! Hurra! I like these reviews threads, but I principally refuse reading the actual texts until after I've familiarized myself with the album :cheers:

    #40300
    Johnny_Heartfield
    Participant

    @ grindove: I can subscribe to almost anything you said above. Perhaps not in detail, but certainly in principle. Especially regarding Sade worship ;-). (Though I hated her at first, being stuck in trite Metal stuff and – luckily – 70s rock). I still regret having sold Metallica's "Ride the Lightning" and Maiden's "Piece of Mind" and even liked the Scorpions' "comeback" gig at Wacken 2006 – well, featuring Uli Jon Roth & Michael Schenker, what can you say?

    Even got in a Michael Schenker frenzy lately – probably due to Motorpsycho digging out "Rock Bottom" once again. Still – there's so much Metal stuff out there that's hardly worth mentioning. In the end most of these 80s bands closely clung to the ground or even digged their own genre wholes, while some of the more glorious 70s bands where the real Ancient Astronauts! Hope I don't waste it for me by exagerated expectations, but I'm ready to take off on the new/old stuff…

    #40301
    Punj Lizard
    Participant

    @Johnny – In repsonse to your response to my post … fair enough. I did something I never used to do, which is describe Sabbath as heavy metal. For years I'd go around saying things like "Metal really started with Motorhead" and "Punk really started with the Pistols" – typically arrogant UK-centric statements. Anyway, it seems the retrospective attribution of genre is all the rage these days, partly, I think, because of the plethora of sub-genres of all types that have arisen since the 70s, and partly because people seem to have a desire to lump all their favourite artists in their favourite genre (at least that appears to be the case in prog circles). Consequently we now hear that Kate Bush is prog, Deep Purple are metal and so on. I stand guilty of having committed this crime here – I am suitably embarrassed. Furthermore, I should admit I never got into 80s metal, and few of the 70s progenitors. You clearly had a deeper relationship with the genre.

    #40302
    Johnny_Heartfield
    Participant

    @ Punj Lizard: Metal started with the Beatles of course – Helter Skelter. And Stoner Rock as well – I Want You (She's So Heavy). And Motorhead didn't regard themselves as a Heavy Metal Band – of course they were, at least in their later middle stage. And Kate Bush IS prog – beside a lot of other things, notably among them being Kate Bush ;-). I remember a Motorhead concert in the late 80s where they played "Interstellar Overdrive" (by Pink Floyd of course) at full volume through the massive speakers just before Motorhead got on. That's genre-hopping for you! Lets dump all these boxes anyway…

    Btw.: A friend of mine who had just been to Nick Mason's Saucerful of Secrets mentioned to me he noticed how close to Punk these early Barrett numbers were…

    #40303
    marc
    Participant

    I came here for the reviews…what happened? :lol:

    #40304
    Johnny_Heartfield
    Participant

    We're reviewing rock music in general and especially metal – sorry for the diversion ;-)

    Another case of predicting a thread that is still to come (see Bent's 23 favourite metal tracks from 1980)…

    #40305
    Punj Lizard
    Participant

    The album has been included in Rollong Stone Italian edition's list of "Discs to listen to in August 2022".

    Rolling Stone Italy – Discs to listen to in August 2022

    #40306

    MP is these days closer to being a jazz band than metal, that metal media don't get this just make sense.

    #40307
    boomer former helm
    Participant
    #40308
    nicoot
    Participant

    Very nice review from Weirdo Shrine and a really cool short interview with Bent too. So Snah, Bent, Tomas and their partners all live in one big building with separate compartments now? Or is that one of those "We always tell the truth, except when we lie. And we lie a lot"-moments, described at the end of the interview? :D

    #40309
    ThorEgil
    Participant

    That farmhouse :cheers:

    #40310
    Punj Lizard
    Participant

    Review from Soundmagnet

    Ancient Astronauts is the title of the new Motorpsycho work, and the story behind the new album is no less unusual: During the pandemic, the band released two albums, but were also involved in two special projects. On the one hand in a film project by the Norwegian theater group DeUtvalgte, whose aim is to visually implement Motorpsycho's music.

    The second saw the band perform live to the dance performance Sacrificing by Homan Sharifi and Impure Dance Company. Two songs from this project made it onto the new album, namely Mona Lisa/Azrael and Chariot of the Sun.

    DeUtvalgte, on the other hand, found the dance performance accompanied by Motorpsycho so impressive that they also wanted to use the music for their film project. Ex-Motorpsycho member Helge "Deathprod" Sten was also in the audience and liked the music so much that he offered to produce the album. The recording was then live, apart from a few overdubs and vocals, in the summer of 2021 at the Amper Tone Studio in Oslo, but only with a cast of three people, as Reine Fiske was unable to travel from Stockholm to Oslo due to Covid travel restrictions.

    The cover consists of scenes from the film project shot on an August dawn in Skottbu, Norway.

    A ladder to infinity

    With the appropriately titled opener The Ladder, the listener gets into the album, accompanied by spherical keyboards and ominous chorales. After about a minute the guitars join in with a wildly progressive sonic whirl. As soon as the vocals start, it becomes a bit calmer again, the song alternates between relaxed and fast moving parts. In the middle part there is extensive instrumental and psychedelic indulgence, both on guitars and on organs and the rhythm section, until the song fades away in the same way it began.

    The Beauty of the Angel of Death

    After the short, spacey interlude The Flower Of Awareness, the track continues with Mona Lisa/Azrael, which is introduced with epic synth strings. A sad melody in slow three-four time creates a grippingly melancholic atmosphere. The vocals float gently over the quiet and delicately played acoustic guitars. After about four minutes the song suddenly picks up speed, with jazzy drumming and hectic riffs. It has real live character and that very special jam vibe. Great!

    Acoustic wide screen cinema

    The finale is Chariot Of The Sun – To Phaeton On The Occasion Of Sunrise (Theme From An Imagined Movie), a 22-minute epic that makes a really good movie soundtrack and leaves the listener wondering what the end result will be film project mentioned above.

    The first quarter consists of soft tones, from the sixth minute rocking riffs and twin guitar parts set in, accompanied by a shuffle rhythm and various effects, followed by crazy solo escapades. Words cannot describe this song, it is rather a landscape of sound, a cinematic instrumental marvel, an acoustic monument.

    Conclusion

    Motorpsycho have always been in their own league, and with Ancient Astronauts they once again deliver a complex, progressive album that piles up cinematic soundscapes and imaginary soundscapes and fires the imagination with musical finesse and variety.

    9/10

    (Translated by Google)

    Soundmagnet review of Ancient Astronauts

    #40311
    Punj Lizard
    Participant

    From The Progressive Aspect (TPA)

    Motorpsycho are back with their fourth album in as many years, 2019’s The Crucible having been followed by the “Covid years” albums The All is One (2020) and Kingdom of Oblivion (2021), and here we are presented with Ancient Astronauts. It appears that the band’s creative juices continue to flow as they are still maintaining their high standard of music making.

    When I saw this album up for review I was jumping up and down with my hand in the air, shouting “Me, me!”, completely shamelessly, such is my excitement for what this band create. There is some important background information for this album, so bear with me. Alongside the previous two albums, the band were involved in two other projects, one a loose film idea developed with De Utvalgte, a Norwegian theatre group. Not really liking the “live streaming concerts” which many bands did during lockdown periods, Motorpsycho got together with De Utvalgte to see if there was a way to portray their music in a visual way. This project is still underway and in development.

    The second project saw Motorpsycho play live to a dance performance by Homan Sharifi and the Impure Dance Company, called Sacrificing. Again due to restrictions at the time, the audiences were small, resulting in only several hundred being lucky enough to see it. The dance was inspired by the idea of The Rite of Spring, a piece of music which had inspired Motorpsycho’s suite N.O.X. from The All is One. These two pieces worked well together, but more music was required so two further pieces were written. This is where things tie in with this release as those two songs, Mona Lisa/Azrael and Chariots of the Sun are included here.

    Now this being Motorpsycho, they did not leave it there but added a further two tracks to give us a full album of new music. It was recorded in Amber Tone studio in Oslo, Norway during the summer of 2021. Reine Fiske, due to travel restrictions at the time, was not at the studio, so for the first time in many years the three core members of the band recorded as a trio.

    This recording was mainly done as live takes, with only a few overdubs and vocals added later, so we are treated to the band playing live in the studio, and this is certainly reflected in the sound and feel of the songs in a most positive way.

    The four songs contained here have an overall running time of forty-three minutes, with the longest clocking in at twenty-two minutes. This epic track, Chariots of the Sun could be seen as the centre piece of the album despite being the closer. It is a notable demonstration of the perfect pacing of a long-form song, the gentler opening developing gradually over the first five-minutes before the pace begins to increase. The transition between the song’s phases is smooth and precise, as a result of being recorded live in the studio. This live feel gives the song some fire, energy and endless power, along with focus and drive as it moves forward with purpose. I previously mentioned that this piece had been written for a dance company; having now heard the song I think the interpretation would be a wonder to behold. When you hear this song I guess you’re likely to think the same.

    The previous statement could also be applied to the second piece written for this dance company, Mona Lisa/Azrael beginning with an almost folk-like atmospheric feel, at times reminiscent of early King Crimson (circa In the Court of the Crimson King). Building slowly, at around four-minutes there is a shift in pace with some urgent drum tapping before – Bang! – the band explode into full fury, slightly reigning in to settle into the set rhythm of the song.

    The two remaining songs are as far away from fillers as possible; the quality and standard is pure Motorpsycho. Opener The Ladder is full-on as the trio power through its six-minutes, the live feel front and centre to give the impression that these guys are going for it, and enjoying every second of it too. Track two, The Flowers of Awareness, is an atmospheric piece but with an almost menacing feel at times, as if it is going to explode at any minute, but instead it links straight into the next track.

    As I stated at the beginning, I was excited to hear this album, but I hope my review does not come over as too “fanboy”; I discovered this band only a few years ago and it still amazes me that these guys – who have been around for some thirty years – can sound so fresh as they power through this rich creative seam. They have delivered another album of interestingly constructed songs, and the fact that there were two originally written for a dance company means those lucky enough to see these performance would have another perspective on the album as a whole. Another lesson on how to lead from the front from a well established band. Go on, listen to it – I do not think that Ancient Astronauts will disappoint.

    The Progressive Aspect review of Ancient Astronauts

    #40312
    Punj Lizard
    Participant

    Review at Musikreviews.de

    Because MOTORPSYCHO have long enjoyed the freedom of fools, their fans also get through with an album that consists of superficially contradictory set pieces like a collage. As a mixture of ballet music, film soundtrack and easy-going jam session, “Ancient Astronauts” teaches a great deal, even if it isn't ultimately a great moment in the band's catalogue.

    On the other hand, the record works pretty well with its Janus-faced nature, and if we're honest, given the Norwegians' adventurously extensive discography, it's presumptuous to expect constant highlights. MOTORPSYCHO like to experiment often, but they never lose the classic rock thread – not even on "Ancient Astronauts".

    The music was mainly created in collaboration with a dance project during the height of the Covid-19 lockdowns. The main ideas are older, says bassist and vocalist Bent Sæther, but the final structures and moods were set specifically for the album release. The fact that Helge Sten alias Deathprod (unofficial band member behind the controls since "Demon Box") was once again involved in the production can only be interpreted to a limited extent in the sense of "back to the roots".

    ´Mona Lisa / Azrael´ (based on Thomas Mann’s novella “Death in Venice” and its film adaptation by Luchino Visconti) is exemplary for the record as a whole as a consistent contrast program: gracefully calm, almost hymn-like passages alternate with effervescent, apparently chaotic and confusing ones Moments that in turn underline that the basic tracks of "Ancient Astronauts" were recorded live in the studio.

    'The Flowers Of Awareness' is mixed ambient, ebb and flow noises, but if there's one track you should take with you permanently from this album, it would be 'Chariot Of The Sun – To Phaeton', an epic heavy rocker after a slow start On The Occasion Of Sunrise (Theme From An Imagined Movie)´, in which MOTORPSYCHO show off many of their trademarks (especially the catchy in the weird) as usual.

    CONCLUSION: From a distance, "Ancient Astronauts" is probably seen as a transitional work. MOTORPSYCHO close a chapter of their work with this experimental improvisational-traditional hard rock-program music concoction, without showing the nakedness of fraying, but without a doubt they have used up more evocative songs on an album.

    (Translated by Google)

    Musikreview.de review of Ancient Astronauts

    #40313
    Punj Lizard
    Participant

    Review at betreutesproggen.de

    The creativity of the Norwegian psych rockers from Motorpsycho seems to be almost inexhaustible. Just a year has passed since “Kingdom of Oblivion” saw the light of day. Since “The Crucible” was released in 2017, the Trondheimers have been releasing their albums every year. Few bands release at such a pace. Since the band was founded in 1989, the band has changed their style in all directions without losing their basic unmistakable Motorpsycho markers. From alternative rock, brit pop, shoegaze to jazz rock, psych rock, progressive rock and stoner… Motorpsycho has definitely tried its hand.

    It is not yet clear that the band is slowly getting tired of this tempo and the creative roller coaster ride. Because now their 26th album will be released with “Ancient Astronauts”. And first of all, the bar is still quite high.

    The band has been looking for new inspiration during the pandemic. As a result, Ancient Astronauts includes a portion of the Motorpsycho-designed score for a dance project by Impure Dance Company performed for a small audience during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this, "Ancient Astronauts" is not a one-piece work. The album was recorded live in the studio in Oslo and only the vocals were added afterwards.

    As is often the case with Motorpsycho, their latest work can only be compared to its predecessors to a limited extent. The album slows down a few steps in tempo and doesn't present itself as colorful as "The All Is One" or "Kingdom of Oblivion". Motorpsycho play more with soundscapes and give the music a lot of room to grow. Two of the four tracks are extended long tracks at 12 and 22 minutes. The opener 'The Ladder', on the other hand, is a bit out of the ordinary. As usual, he opens rocking with a creaking, distorted bass and a driving rhythm, as known from the Gullvåg trilogy ("The All is One", "The Crucible", "The Tower"). But that's about it for the rocking side of the band on “Ancient Astronauts”.

    The instrumental transition 'The Flower Of Awareness' builds quite a menacing vibe with electrifying rumbling soundscapes. Almost unusual for Motorpsycho. This tension is discharged with the following 'Mona Lisa Azrael' through its folkloric and ballad-like drama. A delicate song accompanied by soft tones. Half of the song picks up speed and turns into a contrasting, positively absurd-looking free-jazz intermezzo with rough bass riffing. The calm before the storm, that's what you could call it. The initial melodic beauty and the emerging dissonant and experimental outburst know how to inspire in their entirety.

    The 22-minute psychedelic instrumental 'Chariot Of The Sun – To Phaeton On The Occasion Of Sunrise', with its spherical character and clear Pink Floyd borrowings as well as elements from the post-rock, ends "Ancient Astronauts" without harsh edges and extroverted excursions . A track that convinces with its slow and relaxed development just as much as the opener with its directness and boldness. The synth sounds, the details and the amazingly good hand for the calm tones and emotional moments make this song a highlight in the back catalog of motorized psychotics. However, the subtleties and its appeal only reach the listener with concentrated attention.

    Anyone who knows the band could have guessed that after the Gullvåg trilogy and “Kingdom of Oblivion” no other Motorpsycho album of a similar style would be released any time soon. One could almost say that it was about time for a change. Whether “Ancient Astronauts” is just an outlier due to the musical dance accompaniment is anyone's guess and will become apparent with their next album at the latest. But that's what makes Motorpsycho so great. The diversity and changeability and maybe also the lived "-psycho" in the name.

    “Ancient Astronauts” again shows Motorpsycho from several angles. The album starts rocking, changes to lovely medieval melodies and ends in a dreamy long track. The psychedelic cheerfulness is completely missing here, but it wouldn't really fit either.

    The Norwegians focus on atmospheric width and a high emotionality and try to inspire more on an instrumental level. A work that wants to be enjoyed in a relaxed manner. Even if the equally great 'The Ladder' seems a bit lost here stylistically and would have fitted one of the predecessors more, Motorpsycho have again presented an extremely good album. Even if the song sequence seems a bit fragmented. This is Motorpsycho with another face that amazes and delights like all other phases of the band.

    Rating: 13/15 points (MK 13, KR 13)

    (Translated by Google)

    Betreutes Proggen review of Ancient Astronauts

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