MOTORPSYCHO — Lobotomizer (review)

MOTORPSYCHO — Lobotomizer album cover Album · 1991 · Stoner Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
MOTORPSYCHO is one of Norway’s most prolific and diverse sounding bands having racked up much critical acclaim for their ambitious stream of never-ending albums that feature genre-blending stylistic approaches and are most recognized in the world of progressive rock. However in the beginning when the band was founded by vocalist / bassist Bent Saether, guitarist / vocalist Hans Magnus Ryan and original drummer Kjell Runar Jensaen, the band was firmly grounded in the alternative heavy metal and grunge that was taking over the world in the early 90s. After a couple of warm-up demos, MOTORPSYCHO made their debut in 1991 with LOBOTOMIZER which found the band at their rawest, least progressive and as the cover suggests rooted in a stoner-tinged psychedelia or more appropriately called stoner metal.

LOBOTOMIZER fits somewhere in the murky area between hard rock, grunge and alternative metal. Most resembling Soundgarden in their earliest years with heavily distorted down-tuned guitar riffing, chunky bass and that now famous grungy drum along stylistic percussive drive, MOTORPSYCHO also exhibit a heavy speedy drive that keeps the music churning along with only a couple tracks like “Wasted” and “Eternity” slowing things down a few notches. While the heavy rock still retains a rather bluesy compositional approach not dissimilar to Alice In Chains, Melvins or Monster Magnet, the band was already a little more sophisticated than the average grunge band even at the very beginning with more dynamic compositional approaches that were displaying progressive tendencies albeit unfulfilled.

While most of LOBOTIMIZER is on hard rock overdrive, “Eternity” stands out as one of their most psychedelic offerings with lush acoustic guitar strumming, electronic swirling effects reminding me a bit of Hawkwind and more tripped out electric guitar antics. “Hogwash,” one of their crowd favorites in live performances extends over eight minutes and provides a cool psychedelic jam that utilizes a heavily distorted guitar groove and Geir Nilsen’s guest appearance on Hammond organ bringing a veritable 60s vibe to the table. The best and most accomplished track is reserved as the the closer with the near twelve minute “TFC” which takes both aspects of heavy grungy rock and psychedelia and churns out a lengthy mind bending trip into the alternative promised land with all kinds of Krautrock-ish freakouts thus flaunting their freak flag creds.

While LOBOTOMIZER is heavily steeped in the early 90s regalia of grunge and alternative metal, it’s clear in retrospect albeit probably not at the time that MOTORPSYCHO was more sophisticated than the average grunge band on the block. Snuck into the mix was the use of violins and other sound affects to augment the trippiness effect and the interesting mixes themselves evoked an extreme sense of thoughtfulness absent from the major players of the day. While MOTORPSYCHO would score big in their native Norway all throughout their alternative 90s years, success would escape their clutches on a global scale. Although LOBOTOMIZER is often ranked as the band’s weakest effort, i find this to be a truly satisfying slice of early 90s alternative metal / grunge that offers a lot more sophistication than the average Nirvana album for sure. Will Saether’s vocal antics evoke the 90s, Ryan’s guitar feedback and fuzz just as easily bring the 60s to the forefront. Perhaps not their best but not one to be skipped either.
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