Kingdom of Oblivion – reviews

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    Punj Lizard


      Translated from Norwegian:


      Kingdom of Oblivion

      The beard is still growing

      Jøssenam … Here they are again! Just when you felt that you had got a grip on the recently completed trilogy of Motorpsycho, this happens. More music! Is it possible??

      Well, the fact that Motorpsycho has a high production speed should not really come as a surprise anymore. Now, as I said, they have recently completed a reasonably hefty and extensive project in their "Gullvåg trilogy", but here comes the raisin in the sausage.

      The surplus project Kingdom of Oblivion is composed of a number of songs which for various reasons did not fit on the three previous albums, but which admittedly bear clear similarities. We're talking about guitar hero riffing, rolling fuzz bass, acoustic adventures, fine vocal harmonies and a good portion of what must now be called typical motor psycho-singing (You know, the way they do. For example here in 'the united debased': "Dreaming of freedom but LIVING AFRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIDDD ”).

      In short, one can conclude that even though the album cover is now adorned by another artist (Sverre Malling), they rock in the same way as on the previous albums.

      Interludes and shorter acoustic tracks connect the longer songs in a roller coaster of music and adventure, and you basically get the feeling that you are following a kind of timeline through the album.

      The biggest difference between the three previous albums and Kingdom of Oblivion is that this album is a little easier to digest. Here you will find no 20-minutes-plus-plus epic mammoth songs in the center of the album. However, they are now not radio-friendly. Half of the tracks extend upwards towards the 10-minute mark, and are consequently characterized by fiery riffs, up to several guitar solos, as well as longer jams with organ and mellotron and flutes and strings and whathaveyounot with acid effects – often anchored in a suggestive bass riff.

      In other words, the Motorpsycho grinder goes smoothly on a setting that can be described as:

      "70s hard rock + Gandalf".

      For there is one thing that strikes me when I listen to this summary raisin: Bent and Snah have over time gone from being young, exploratory psychonauts in astonishing search for new sonic adventures in a kaleidoscopic music world. They have moved here and there, done this and that, and have now gradually taken on / accepted the role as experienced veterans. They appear more and more like a bunch of wizards (hear me out) who stand there and tell fairy tales and cast magic and all that scheme there. Now it is they who control the trip. Away with naivety and uncertainty. Now they are the guides in this sonic universe. They are the ones who lead you into deep, mysterious forests, and they are the ones who pull you out of the thorn bush when the music nears its end.

      The songs you hear on Kingdom of Oblivion are characterized by a very confident drive. We are talking about a confidence that radiates experience.

      It's been a while since Bent and Snah really started to dive into the cookbooks from the 60's and 70's. After 10-12 years of experimenting with acidic psychedelic melodies and riffs, riffs, RIFF, Motorpsycho knows exactly where they stand. And there they stand wide-legged. With your hands firmly planted on your hips.

      And beard down to the boots.


      Punj Lizard

        Heavy Metal Webzine

        Trsnslated from Italian:

        From the prolific Norwegians you can always expect everything: from the unripe noise rock beginnings , the band then went through a myriad of genres in the course of an endless discography.

        If the last three works were oriented on a reinterpretation of progressive rock of the 70s, with this new work the three musicians return to touch more exquisitely hard-rock territories, while remaining with their feet firmly planted in the seventies.

        Already from the first three tracks you can sense the goodness of this new work: from the melodic hard ride of the opener (divided into two parts, one more energetic, the other more psychedelic), passing through the more stoner sounds of the title track, up to the freak-folk of "Lady May 1", the trio always manages to convince, thanks to over thirty years of experience. The two leaders are absolute protagonists through convincing riff walls, inspired solos and excellent vocal melodies and very little is left to the drummer, who just accompanies without too many jolts.

        The doom, the less modern one and closer to the black sand, peeps out in "The United Debased" and the song is paradigmatic of the band's sound transformation, which never manages to be too obvious, constantly shuffling the cards on the table.

        The cover of "The Watcher" is interesting, almost a tribute to Lemmy , being the only song of the historic "Doremi Fasol Latido" by Hawkwind written by the future leader of Motörhead: the version of ours, however, is decidedly more psychedelic, experimental and ghostly of the original. "Dreamkiller" starts as a delicious and ideal soundtrack of a common freak of the late 60s, and then gives vent to a very heavy riff, torn by mellotron inserts and then returns to the initial sounds, while "Atet" is a short instrumental excursus with folk connotations.

        The album then continues with "At Empire's End", an excellent example of psychedelic progressive-folk, the Tullian "The Hunt", the edgy "The Transmutation Of Cosmoctopus Lurker" (which may recall the first Anekdoten) and the dark and dreamy "Cormorant".

        If after three decades creativity is still at these levels, we just have to bow in front of Motorpsycho , one of the most credible retro-rock bands in the whole scene.


        Punj Lizard

          Negative review:

          To start with an advisory. If you are already a fan of Norwegian psychedelic prog rockers Motorpsycho then it might be best to just skip the rest of this review and just buy Kingdom of Oblivion upon its release. You’re probably gonna like it.

          Having only released their last album (The All Is One) in 2020, Motorpsycho made good use of the lack of distractions due to the ongoing pandemic and devoted their time and effort to finishing Kingdom of Oblivion. The album having been already partly recorded during the same sessions as the previous record.

          With their 30 years of musical experience, Motorpsycho have experimented with nearly every genre, with this release their initial motivation was to create ‘a pure hard rock record’ that harked back to their roots of ‘crunching guitars, roaring bass and the sheer mayhem of unhinged drumming’. The Waning Pt.1&2 is a good start with a fuzzy, stoner riff straight off Kyuss’s Blues for the Red Sun. The vocal style doesn’t quite match, being a little too harmonised and choral for my liking but taken as a whole, it’s not a bad track. The title track is up next and again it kicks off with a meaty riff, before wavering a bit in the middle before being saved with some nice guitar work towards the end.

          The press release states that ‘Kingdom Of Oblivion became much more…as other lighter influences slipped in alongside the big riff backbone’ and this is where it starts to lose me. Lady May 1 drew a disappointed sigh as it goes heavy on the folky medieval vibe, with flutes, acoustic strumming, and even more stylized vocal harmonies. From then on, more and more elements from different musical genres are thrown into the literal mix, to the point where their increase was directly linked to the decrease in my interest. They cover The Watcher (featuring The Crimson Eye), a Hawkwind track penned by Lemmy and also released by Motorhead, sounds like it has potential! No, it is five minutes that would be better spent making a cup of tea! Likewise, the trio of Atet, After the Fair and the closing Cormorant are pointless 2–3-minute instrumental interludes that just underline the importance of the ‘Skip to Next Track’ button. To be honest the compulsion to press that button became increasingly hard to resist the longer I listened to this album, which was a shame, because there were a few moments in there where they did attract my attention. The riff that kicks in at the 1m 20secs mark of The Transmutation Of Cosmoctopus Lurker (Rob Zombie eat your heart out!) is great, but it’s an all too brief highlight in the ten minute plus track.

          If you are a Motorpsycho fan and have ignored my advisory at the start of this review, then I imagine you will strongly disagree with everything I have just written. Fair enough, I did warn you. 



          Both the first and last paragraphs of this review sweat writing incompetence and self-doubt in the most embarrassing way possible for a music reviewer.


            Maybe, but it shines through all the way what’s the reviewer’s cup of tea and what’s not. Which makes it easy to make up one’s own mind without minding the rating, and that’s a good thing.


            I had to give in and listen to the 30 sec snippets, and man this sounds *so* promising. The Transmutation… wow! The Watcher. The production sounds amazing. And the Metal Epidemic review makes me even more happy, these songs he wants to skip I’m pretty sure are the ones I will really dig. Looking forward to some initial reactions by the happy few who received their copy today ✌️


              My comment to the metalepidemic review:

              "We are Motor…psycho and we play – ehrm…"


                Have to admit, I love seeing a negative review once in a while.

                Not because I agree with the reviewer (I haven't even heard the record yet), but it seems no matter what the band releases, the reviewers are falling over themselves praising them.

                Breath of fresh air I guess.


                  Yeah, sometimes a bad review is even more fun to read… If intelligently written. Nothing to be butthurt about.

                  But if it's uninspired then it is just poor craft, hence the author should be pro enough to hand the album to someone else


                    @ marc: I have quite often considered very favourite reviews poor craft. Not because I don't agree with them in general, but sometimes they are either rather poorly informed or repeat the odd cliché once too often. There are so many outlets for music reviews these days that you sadly can't avoid that.


                      Nice one from Süddeutsche Zeitung (Germany):

                      Contrary to what people everywhere like to claim, indie rock is not dead. It's just been hiding in Norway for a while. And all those who now claim (and, okay, not entirely wrongly) that it's about the same thing haven't been to a Motorpsycho concert yet. There would have been plenty of opportunities to do so before the pandemic, the prog-stoner-rock band founded in Trondheim in 1989 toured the world tirelessly, but of course not at the moment. Instead, with "Kingdom Of Oblivion" (Stickman Records/Rune Grammofon), there is now the 24th Motorpsycho studio album, and that is a very good substitute for the time being.

                      For example, you can immerse yourself in the viscous and screaming power of "The United Debased" or in "The Waning Pt. 1&2", which is a heavily driving, stoic riff monster on the one hand and an elegiac, psychedelically echoing falsetto-chorus meditation on the other. Whereby the Motorpsycho secret is, of course, that neither blasé prog sauce nor prepotent hard rock and certainly not nervous show-off metal emerges, but rather Motorpsycho music. Led Zeppelin for grown-ups who also love minimalist meandering Krautrock and slow-motion thundering drone and are more interested in the hypnotic force of a heavily dragging electric guitar riff lowered a few octaves than in any sawing solo show-off. Inexplicably, actually, Motorpsycho is still the least known of the few really significant rock bands of the past 30 years.

                      German version can be found at


                        From Progwereld (in Dutch), moderately positive (more praise for predecessor TAIO – understandable for a prog website):

                        In een tijdperk waar toetsen een steeds prominenter plaats innemen en waar metal de ruige gitaar gemonopoliseerd lijkt te hebben, voelt hardrock soms aan als een relikwie. Op een sporadische revival na lukt het mijns inziens maar weinig bands om de muziekstijl actueel en relevant te laten klinken. Des te interessanter dat Motorpsycho zich aanvankelijk tot doel stelde een onversneden hardrockalbum te creëren. Als er een band is die met zo’n concept kan uitblinken, zijn het deze heren wel.

                        Een onverdund hardrockalbum is “Kingdom Of Oblivion” echter niet. De invloed van hardrock uit de jaren ‘60 en ‘70 is desondanks duidelijk merkbaar. Namen als Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep en Blue Cheer komen als associatie naar boven. Wat dit album verder authentiek laat aanvoelen, is de focus op riffs, waardoor de muziek kernachtig en opzwepend klinkt: alsof de wereld aan de voeten van deze Noren ligt. Het creëert een ietwat rechtlijnig geluid dat niettemin een ongedwongenheid ten toon spreidt die gangbaar was in een tijd dat genres minder strak gedefinieerd waren. Het titelnummer toont dit het duidelijkst. Hier horen we raggende roadrage met een pakkende melodie, waarbij de beknepen gitaarsolo mooi past binnen de logheid van de compositie. Ook The United Debased maakt goed gebruik van de voornoemde invloeden. Een hakkend ritme ondersteunt vurige gitaarklanken. Halverwege lijkt er een stroomversnelling te volgen, maar vervolgens komt de focus te liggen op een grommende baslijn. Pompende melodieën leiden tot slot naar een explosieve conclusie. Zo’n nummer had op een album als “Paranoid” niet misstaan.

                        Desalniettemin ontwaren we ook veel composities die afwijken van deze hardrockstijl. Zo bevat The Hunt een prettig zwierig ritme en een folky arrangement dat door de Mellotron een feeërieke sfeer kent. Halverwege wordt het nummer spannender door marsritmes en grommende toetsen. Deze dreiging vloeit gauw over in een statige conclusie. The Watcher is ronduit experimenteel. Smeulende bassen contrasteren met psychedelische toetsen, hetgeen een ongemakkelijk sfeer creëert. Richting het eind gaat het even spoken, maar echt stormig wordt het niet: een onderhuidse spanning lijkt eerder het doel te zijn. Het doet wat denken aan de stijl die de Rolling Stones brachten op “Their Satanic Majesties Request”.

                        Hoewel deze muziek goed in elkaar steekt, bemerk je toch dat we hier met restmateriaal van doen hebben. De stijl van dit album is niet consistent, waardoor het niet overkomt als een totaalproduct. Daarenboven voelen nummers als Atet, After The Fair en Cormorant meer als oefenstudies aan dan als uitgewerkte composities. Plaatvulling, om het maar botweg te zeggen. Sterker nog, over het geheel genomen heeft de rechtlijnigheid van deze muziek het nadeel dat de arrangementen minder gedetailleerd klinken. Dit doet af aan de intensiteit. Gelukkig heeft de band voldoende talent en ervaring om ook binnen deze, ietwat schetsachtige stijl, parels te creëren.

                        Zo is Transmutation Of The Comoctopus Lurker een beest van een nummer. Het pakkende baswerk verhult mondjesmaat dat de arrangementen niet enkel spannend, maar ook gespannen zijn. De zinkende synthesizers benadrukken immers dat er op de achtergrond iets misgaat. Vervolgens leidt een surreële stroomversnelling naar een tegendraadse gitaarsolo. Hermetische klanken vestigen een beklemmende sfeer. Met een onverbiddelijke intensiteit keert de band terug naar het veilige hoofdritme, hetgeen aanvoelt als een opluchting. Het gevaar blijft echter sluimerend aanwezig. Geen wonder dat er toch een bescheiden uitbarsting volgt, waarna de luisteraar wezenloos wordt achtergelaten. Het zijn dit soort nummers dat deze plaat – ondanks enkele kritiekpunten – de moeite van het beluisteren waard maakt. Jammer dat dit niveau niet constant kon worden vastgehouden.

                        “Kingdom Of Oblivion” bevat dan ook doorgaans luchtige, doch overtuigende muziek. Met name de momenten waar de band zich laat inspireren door hardrock zijn aansprekend. Helaas zijn de composities minder goed uitgewerkt en minder intens dan op de illustere voorganger. Desalniettemin is dit nog altijd een plaat waar de liefhebber van retrorock zich geen buil aan kan vallen.

                        To be found at


                            From Dagsavisen – Translate at will

                            Anmeldelse Motorpsycho: «Kingdom of Oblivion» er en lekende lett tungvekter

                            Norges mest produktive rocketrio setter bassen på plass.

                            Snah, Tomas Järmyr og Benth Sæther i Motorpsycho er ute med Kingdom of Oblivion, et nytt album bare noen måneder etter forrige storverk.

                            Motorspycho_ Snah (fra venstre), Tomas Järmyr og Benth Sæther i Motorpsycho er ute med Kingdom of Oblivion, et nytt album bare noen måneder etter forrige storverk.


                            Kingdom of Oblivion

                            Rune Grammofon

                            Det er et godt tegn når Motorpsychos nye plate gir en nærmest euforisk følelse av å kunne oppdage hardrocken på nytt. Ikke fordi Trondheims-trioen nødvendigvis har oppfunnet kruttet igjen, men fordi de øser av et overflødighetshorn med buldrende, basstunge riffvifter og gjenkjennelig inspirasjon samtidig som de skrur volumet til elleve og oser av overskudd.

                            Overflødighet er kanskje ikke helt riktig ord, men overskudd er det definitivt snakk om. Etter tre tiår puster og lever fortsatt Motorpsycho med musikk som døgnåpen bedrift. Det er ikke mer enn et drøyt halvår siden de utga albumet «The All Is One», kraftprestasjonen som fullførte den såkalte Håkon Gullvåg-trilogien med album dels inspirert av og illustrert med Gullvågs kunst, og som ellers besto av «The Tower» (2017) og «The Crucible» (2019). Innimellom disse har de laget festivalbestillingsverk og spilt inn plate med Ole Paus.

                            Det nye albumet «Kingdom Of Oblivion» består dels av låter og skisser som ikke passet inn på «The All Is One», og ble altså ble innspilt før pandemien lukket det meste ned. Og med svenske Reine Fiske som forsterkende gitarist i tillegg til kjernen Bent Sæther (bass, vokal), Hans Magnus «Snah» Ryan (gitar, vokal) og Tomas Järmyr (trommer). Albumet ble så ferdigstilt i løpet av 2020, og skrudd i sammenføyningene slik at det står like helstøpt som om det skulle vært en nøye planlagt del av bandets progresjon. «The All Is One» er mer fullendt som verk, men «Kingdom Of Oblivion» har partier som er vel så sterke, og ideen om å samle harde rifflåter har definitivt vokst til noe langt mer.

                            Billedkunsten er de heller ikke ferdig med. Omslaget og andre illustrasjoner er tegnet av Sverre Malling, og forsidetegningen er inspirert av den nokså mytiske britiske 1800-tallspoeten Algernon Charles Swinburne som i Mallings versjon er halshogget liggende i gresset hvor hodet går i ett med hår, sopp, sommerfugler og mye stemning. Det står perfekt til et innhold som også gror vilt, med psykedeliske anslag over inspirasjon som like gjerne kan relateres til Swinburnes England under Victoriatiden som til eventyrlig litteratur og britisk folkrock, progrock og hardrock.

                            Åpningssporet «The Waning Pt. 1 & 2» avslører essensen i hva dette handler om, hvor de fire første minuttene er noe av det tyngste og mest smittende de har laget, før det i «Part 2» går over i den typen svært bevisste utflytende assosiasjonsrekker som vi kjenner godt fra før. Også det påfølgende tittelsporet er rifftung rock av edelt britisk merke, en lek med lys og blytungt mørke som passer godt til tiden vi er inne.

                            Så brer de vingene sine ut over det meste av hva trioen holder kjært, hvor referansene er mange og utforskningen er like sjenerøs som den er uhøytidelig ambisiøs. I solstrålen «Lady May» er de ute i et mytisk «Det suser i sivet»-landskap og finner fjerne slektninger som Incredible String Band og Paul Roland i en verden der man ikke helt vet hvem som er alv og menneske, dronning eller arbeider. Så skal «Dreamkiller» også minne oss om alle lignende forundringspakker Motorpsycho opp gjennom årene har gitt oss, fulle av «nyoppdaget» lyd, innovative sammensetninger og kompromissløse hyllester til gamle helter.

                            Og mens vi snakker om det, så virker «The Watcher» å være noe Blixa Bargeld kunne satt sammen for Einstürzende Neubauten, men det dreier seg altså om Hawkwinds Orwell-aktige låt fra 1972 som her blir dekonstruert og ispedd Motorpsychos abstrakte «The Crimsom Eye», en av mange komposisjoner laget til en av de eksperimentelle kortfilmene til animasjonsveteranen Thor Sivertsen. La oss bare kort konstatere at «The Watcher» er fascinerende «langt ute» selv til Motorpsycho å være, og legge til et håp om at Lemmy Kilminsters tekstlinje «This is the end now» ikke skal tas bokstavelig.

                            Men som Lemmy er «Kingdom Of Oblivion» bokstavelig talt «all about the bass». Bent Sæther har knapt boltret seg på dette viset før, i en saftig studie i bass, som på låten «The United Debased», en av flere som strekker seg mot ti minutter og som gjennom en skjærgård av sjangre drives av virtuose bassganger som er så massive at det er som om de henter kraften fra bunnen av Helmsdjupet. Denne låten, også preget av lyset som bryter opp det mørke, er lett albumets store høydepunkt, en rik, kompleks og likevel lekende lett tungvekter som aldri lar deg slippe, og hvor gitarsoloene legges over som knivskarpe blikktak i trønderske stormkast.

                            «Kingdom Of Oblivion» er et langdistanseløp, men brytes stadig opp av låter som tar andre retninger og kaper abrupt stemningsskifte, slik forgjengere som Deep Purple eller Black Sabbath gjerne gjorde på sine album. Låter som «The Hunt» og «At Empire’s End» inneholder det meste, hvor for eksempel akustiske strenger og eterisk vokal løfter sistnevnte opp på et vakkert nivå før intensiteten seirer også her og driver det hele ut på en episk reise der ikke bare det indre psykedeliske trøkket men også riffene eksploderer.

                            Og mot slutten, før «Cormorant» gir balsam ved reisens slutt, trår de pedalene gjennom gulvet i låten som er kandidat til årets tittel: «The Transmutation of Cosmoctopus Lurker». Dette er et beist av en låt på et enda større beist av et album. Det kan framstå som Motorpsychos mest umiddelbare låtsamling på svært lang tid, men skinnet bedrar også denne gangen og åpner for detaljer, finesser og referanser som trollbinder uten ende.


                            Punj Lizard

                              @ GBD Thanks. That Dagsavisen review is great :D

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                            …hanging on to the trip you're on since 1994