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Reviews RCD2124

... We follow doomed vessel "Through The Veil" - MC5 jazzrock into Sabbath - across Prokofiev-like "Doldrums" and on "Into The Gyre", a Beach Boys / Mars Volta meld that floats away on "Flotsam". Disc Two - or side three on vinyl - peters a little, reflecting the elegiac darkness of the crew´s travails until "Mutiny!" supplies a galloping, Yes-propelled lifeboat that launches the superb finale "Into The Mystic". Here Ola Kvernberg´s exquisite violin recalls Jean-Luc Ponty´s joyous Zappa handiwork over muscular ritornellos and an uplifting string and Moog-driven resolution. A battered, barnacled beauty.
Prog (UK)

Teamed with keyboard player Ståle Storløkken and the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, the power trio help sculpt a phenomenal album which cuts across rock, jazz and neo-classical music with gleeful abandon. From volcanic guitarmageddon (Hollow Lands) to moments of grand ambition (the 10-minute plus swoop of Into The Gyre), this is as bold and as progressive as rock gets. 4/5.
Mojo (UK)

There’s plenty of heavy jazz-prog and neoclassical atmospherics for you to absorb here, as well as revisiting the opening rocker’s melody with the most thunderously epic and joyous album closer you’ll hear all year. Serious balls out shameless rock action like no other band on earth is capable of. If you like prog rock you need this album. It’s as simple as that. I can’t remember the last time I heard a rock album this grand and ambitious and complete. I can’t find fault with it at all. Motorpsycho are among the most important bands on earth right now and it’s a fucking travesty they’re not huge here. If this isn’t album of the week there is no justice in the world. Album of the year. Album of the fucking decade so far.
Norman Records (UK)

The Norwegian metallers Motorpsycho have conjured something special for their fifteenth album, together with keyboardist Storløkken. While the first disc of this sprawling double delves into familiar prog-rock territory with its outlandish choirs, sweeping orchestral arrangements, oddtime signatures and gnomic lyrics, it´s the darker, slower second CD when the album hits its stride. Using shivery string sounds and Storløkken´s swirling eerie electronics to the full, the black menace of "Sharks" and the sinister ambience of "La Lenthe" make a nice contrast to the bombast elsewhere. 4/5.
The Times (UK)

Supersilent keyboardist and the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra are among the crew press-ganged into accompanying the Motorspycho trio on this oceanic sequence of songs and instrumental passages. "Through The Veil" trashes like a harpooned plesiosaur over its 16 minutes, dropping to a becalmed lull in "Doldrums", encircled by gentle zephyrs of bass clarinet. Tacking from the prog bombast of "Mutiny!" to the electroacoustic improv of "Sculls In Limbo", this epic trip confirms Motorpsycho as Norway´s own Grateful Dead. 7/10.
Uncut (UK)

When I first saw Motorpsycho in concert, I had gone along more interested in the support slot by ex Supersilent member Ståle Storløkken’s Hammond-driven power trio, elephant9. But Motorpsycho were unexpectedly magnificent, much better than my patchy knowledge of their 1994 ‘classic’ Timothy’s Monster had led me to expect. In retrospect, it seems the 2007 recruitment of a new drummer, Kenneth Kapstad, led to a new phase in the band’s 23-year-long development. The reinvigorated trio’s three albums to date,Little Lucid Moments, Child of the Future, and Heavy Metal Fruit, are all ambitious prog/metal tours de force built on solid melodic foundations. After that 2010 concert I heard that Motorpsycho and Storløkken had joined forces for that year’s Molde Jazz Festival, and so I was already looking forward to Unicorn before it was announced. What I had in mind, however, was something that harnessed their phenomenal energies in powerhouse synergy. What we actually get, in the form of their new opus, is an expansive double CD album subtitled “a fanciful and fairly far-out musical fable”. The Death Defying Unicorn extends the Motorpsycho sound into orchestral realms, with parts for the Trondheimsolistene string octet and Trondheim Jazz Orchestra (including Jaga Jazzist mainstay and ECM bandleader Mathias Eick) on brass and reeds, arranged by Storløkken. There’s also a featured violinist (Ola Kvernberg) and Mellotron, “sonic mayhem” and gongs by Kåre Chr. Vestrheim. The album, unsurprisingly, sounds rather indigestible at first, but that’s par for the course with Motorpsycho’s long-form structures. It takes just a couple of listens for Unicorm to emerge as just as formally coherent and satisfying a listen as their other recent works. It helps that the lyrics by bassist Bent Sæther, which narrate a seafaring yarn inspired by Mutiny on the Bounty and Moby Dick, are nowhere near as fanciful as the album’s title suggests. Coming after a couple of orchestrated scene-setting tracks at the start of disc one, album highlight “Through The Veil” is an epic, powerhouse Motorpsycho rocker with a second act in which the track’s themes are richly orchestrated, and yet another in which the various musical strands are deftly woven together. The second CD is, if anything, a little too restrained, with the music succumbing to the very doldrums endured by its narrative’s protagonists, who are adrift and delirious following a shipwreck. But Storløkken’s orchestrations are uniformly superb, and the core trio find a near-perfect balance between the urge to rock and the need for subtlety.
Dalston Blog (UK)

Bak det hvite og nesten enkle coveret her, skjuler det seg et monster av ei plate. Dette er muligens det mest grandiose og storslagne albumet Motorpsycho noen gang vil gjøre, og det kan virke som at bandets siste plater har ledet opp til denne. ”The Death Defying Unicorn” er et samarbeid med keyboardist Ståle Storløkken, kjent fra Supersilent, Elephant9 og mer, og var originalt et bestillingsverk fra Molde Jazzfestival i 2010. Det som ble presentert der er nå omskrevet og arrangert, og har blitt til et vanvittig progrock album. Skiva har fått undertittelen ”A Fanciful And Fairly Far-Out Musical Fable”, og er sådan et slags konseptalbum. Ikke nok med det, det er et helt utrolig mannskap de har med seg her, bestående av fiolinist Ola Kvernberg, Trondheimsolistene og Trondheim Jazz Orchestra. Det er ikke første gangen Motorpsycho har samarbeidet med jazzartister, men det har aldri skjedd på en slik måte før. Og hvordan låter det? Storslått, vakkert, overdådig, rått og ganske enkelt fantastisk. Dette er muligens det mest kompromissløse bandet har begitt seg ut på, og de gjør lite feil. En ting er de intrikate arrangementene og den meget store spennvidden i materialet. De har også gjort en strålende jobb med å inkorporere Trondheimsolistene og Trondheim Jazz Orchestra. Fy fanden hvor mektig det låter til tider. Dette er også det mest progressive bandet har gjort, med halsbrekkende rytmiske overganger, høyt teknisk spill, flotte og store vokalharmonier og symfonisk så det holder. De spiller også mye på atmosfære, og bygger stadig nye stemninger. Og samtidig får de det til å låte som Motorpsycho, dog med fin inspirasjon fra King Crimson, Van Der Graaf Generator, The Mars Volta, Miles Davis og mye mer. Skal man dog sette fingeren på noe, så er enkelte partier litt vel navlebeskuende og stillestående. Ellers er det bare å synke inn i spor som improvatoriske ”The Hollow Lands”, storslagne ”Through The Veil”, mektige ”Into The Gyre”, mørke og pompøse ”Oh, Proteus -  A Prayer”, vakre ”Sharks”, rocka ”Mutiny!” og den deilige avslutningen i ”Into The Mystic”. Thore Hansen har for øvrig gjort illustrasjonene i coveret. Til tross for at jeg har hørt mye på denne plata, så merker jeg at det er mye jeg ikke har fordøyd enda. Det vil ta lang tid å bli ferdig med ”The Death Defying Unicorn”, og godt er det!
Norway Rock Magazine (NO)

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