Amphibian Man has emerged from its tadpole phase as a one-man bedroom project into a 3-piece band that performs live and does real band things like not release music every 2 months for free. First and foremost, I'm happy for them. Amphibian Man has been one of the biggest stand-outs in surf in recent years and I love that they're making money from it both from records and from people seeing them live. Wish it could be me but Ukraine's not too close.
Whereas previous albums seemed to have a bit of a musical theme, I think this is a back-to-the-basics statement of this band as a band and I have to admit as such that jumping from song-to-song I was a little unimpressed at first. There's not a whole lot of variety here, which is somewhat surprising for a band/artist that has shown a lot of flexibility within their sound. However, what won me over is that the core of Amphibian Man is absolutely intact: that signature intensity, ferocity and speed, with tricky time signatures and changes that they tear through like a rampaging tiger, absolutely relentless. I found that intensity reaching particular peaks at the first two and last two tracks of the album, with "Kings of Dogtown" hitting a point of frenzied noise that I can't recall hearing in their back catalog. If I were to choose a touchstone from previous Amphibian Man releases, I'd say this is the extended verion of their excellent EP Speed Power Turbo Racer.
A bit of a side thought here: if ever you had doubts about the amount of force and scale that can be levied from a guitar-bass-drums trio, I want you to consider that both Amphibian Man AND Arno de Cea and the Clockwork Wizards have that setup -- perhaps the two most powerful groups making this music today. While some may crave hearing harmonies and interplay between rhythm and lead guitar, I think the sheer speed of what's happening here doesn't give you much time to take that in anyway.
If you appreciate the adrenaline side of surf and you're not already tuned into Amphibian Man this is a great place to start. Once you've enjoyed this one thoroughly I suggest... all of their other releases.