Today I will be concise and go straight to the point. The new KingBathmat album, Overcoming The Monster, is on a new level of trippy musical brilliance. Buy it, treasure it. Period.
Oh well, who am I fooling? I’ve been waiting for this since I reviewed Truth Button, their previous album, and I have a need to explain (if such a thing is possible in any human language), the endless sensations that this new album brings in my heart and my soul. KingBathmat has come to me again, and I must say that if the Lady in her infinite goodness would have not delegated the noble mission of writing this review to me, I would still have written it the same way in my head. Since some time ago KingBathmat came to my life, and they have always been a great and unique band, but with this album, I can feel that they have far exceed themselves. Yes, they have a crazy name, and yes, their music may reflect this craziness sometimes, but oh boy… what a blessed craziness… That power that their music and only their music has to inject itself directly into the listener’s psyche, making their albums a religious experience, a mental and spiritual journey that can only come from the minds of beings with a high musical culture and a heart possessed by a vast wealth of influences.
John Bassett, natural from England, is the mastermind behind KingBathmat. At first, John started the band as a solo project, but after the first album he decided to include another three members. The current lineup consists on Bernie Smirnoff on Drums, Rob Watts on Bass, David Georgiou on keyboards and Bassett on guitar and vocals. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this band is one of the best, if not THE best discovery I’ve done in the last couple of years, a true revelation that seems to fight its own revolution against today’s mainstream music with such a free spirit that it is quite impossible to not fall in love of its blend of styles and charismatic interpretation. Hold on, I’m not saying they are against mainstream music; my point is that they don’t seem to care on labeling their music or fitting in a genre specifically. Their sound is hard to classify, it is like a research, an excursion in search of new fusions and full of impressive new sounds, combining rock, catchy pop vocal melodies and some metal heaviness, everything surrounded by a psychodelic atmosphere, colorful and mesmerizing. Overcoming The Monster should have a warning for its high content of awesomeness and colorful imagery, I can happily say that even though this is their seventh album, KingBathmat still retains that bombastic fusion of classic sounds interpreted in a modern style and still manages to sound fresh and invigorating like a debut album. Talking about the concept, the feared monster to which we are trying to overcome, is a synthesis of psychological obstacles and inner fears which, voluntarily or not, stand in our lives, such as religion, the fear of the unseen and unknown (whatever it may be), and the government stalking our already reduced privacy through technology.
Now, mysterious and unknown reader, I’m assuming that you have a heart, and basing on that I dare to say that the first track, Sentinel, is jaw dropping enough to make you love this album instantly. Starting with a heavy riff, developing itself in such a solid way, going through a sweet piano melody that can tear your soul apart, flowing to a perfect vocal line, compelling and magical, and then becoming a psychodelic and disturbing chaos full of energy and innovation, with lyrics that invoke guilt and fear about religion and the lack of spirituality. Then comes Parasomnia, song that theoretically explores the world of the unknown, this time the monster is something invisible and terrifying as a metaphor. So it shows the intro of the song, a kind of scary and mysterious soundtrack that threatens us with macabre sounds, a dance led by synths, mixed with perfect vocal harmonies, forming a weird kind of evil lullaby.
Overcoming The Monster, the song; lands with the force of a demonic possession over me and for the umpteenth time shows KingBathmat’s brutal dynamism, crashing me over and over again against the walls of my room due to their unique way of composing, since each part of the song attacks more and more with new surprises, giving me almost no time to suspect what it is bringing next. KingBathmat has the power to entangle their songs in the listener’s mind over and over again, confirming that musical range is so vast and magnificent that goes from “Epic classic perfectly executed” to “this is weird but damn, I like it!” Then Superfluous begins with a tasty, heavy guitar and unrolls itself over our mind as a map, where a jazzy line is drawn through a mental instrumental passage, before giving way to the usual vocal harmonies and finally to prog… so much perfect and immaculate prog that will surely blow any progger mind, literally. I mean, you just have to listen that sick-nasty guitar. And to top it off the party isn’t over, because in Reality Mining, we can hear a flute and some more great guitar work, an insane amount of talent and skill that is almost frightening to see. In this song the monster is a technological one, the state sticking their noses into our private lives through technology. If you are from the NSA, I’m sure you’re gonna hate this song.
In my opinion, is an abomination to put more words in a story that the story itself. The reason why the atmospheric Kubrick Moon sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it, it’s because, as in the whole album, there are no filler parts here, just the story, nothing less and nothing more, everything is consistent and has a reason why and an exact location. A song that beyond being a great song exceeds the limits of mere entertainment to demand psychological commitments with the listener, based on the concept of a conspiratorial monster that creates mass confusion in a digital age. A meaningful and very philosophical way to make reference to Stanley Kubrick’s film “2001, A Space Odyssey”, giving the perfect finale to an album as complex as a crazy ex-girlfriend, yet so refreshing, addictive and attractive as the same ex-girlfriend was the day we met her.
Honestly, I’m not sure I can define the style and music of KingBathmat with words. After all “to define” means to set limits and their music just doesn’t seems to have them. Each of the songs on this album has the power to make you feel like a thousand different songs have passed over you. The talent of the band, the undeniable genius and creativity pure as untouched snow brought the feeling of a musical hangover falling over me. In Overcoming The Monster, as well as on their previous album, KingBathmat doesn’t pretends to burn the bridges between the classics and their own music , far on the contrary, they seem to be willing to create a strange yet fascinating blend of all of them.
I could be talking an entire week about how awesome this album is, and why it is a masterpiece, about the concept of “the monster” and even philosophizing about why, on the album cover, the infamous Medusa has blindfolded herself, perhaps trying to fool the destiny and stop once and for all of turning anyone who comes closer to stone. I could talk hours of the genius of John Bassett and company, but I think it’s better to let you see, listen and feel for yourself. I must conclude that anyone who wants to take an anthological trip without recurring to hard drugs, will found in Overcoming The Monster an unique kind of kaleidoscope, full of colors that result in more and more colors, changing every minute and erecting in its chaos a dance of familiar but also new sounds, music able to take you high with less brain damage than any drug known. KingBathmat has found the perfect theorem to summarize in one album the apotheosic and glorious majesty of genres like prog rock, clasic pop and even heavy metal. If you are a fan of Black Sabbath, Porcupine Tree, Jethro Tull, King Crimson, Yes, Genesis and that kind of big names, you’ll be more than happy to know that a new classic is taking shape. Buy this album, in fact, buy KingBathmat’s entire discography. Fall in love with it, and then treasure it as the invaluable gem it is.