The oddly sounding name, Kingbathmat is the brainchild of British singer/songwriter John Bassett who initiated the project at the beginning of the Millennium as a solo vehicle for a head-full of ideas and unrealized songs which several years later eventually morphed into a bona fide band. Kingbathmat has since produced a steady stream of seven independent albums: “Son Of A Nun” (2003), “Crowning Glory” (2004), “Fantastic Freak Show Carnival” (2005), “Blue Sea, Black Heart” (2008), “Gravity Field” (2009), and “Truth Button” (2012).
And on July 22, 2013 the band – now a four-piece unit - released their latest entry into the progressive psychedelic rock arena, “Overcoming The Monster”.
The band sees themselves as an amalgamation of progressive, experimental, heavy metal, psychedelic, and alternative stoner space rock. A very difficult band to pigeon-hole into any one specific genre.
Comparisons have been drawn to Porcupine Tree, Black Sabbath, Mars Volta, Radiohead, Foo Fighters, Pink Floyd, and Spock's Beard. And it's easy to hear some of those similarities filter through their compositions. But to my ears the six tracks on “Overcoming The Monster” have more in common with the Swedish group Ritual and their albums “Ritual” and “The Hemulic Voluntary Band” (which I reviewed here back on 12/8/07). The vocals of John Bassett and Patrik Lundstrom of Ritual are very reminiscent of Freddy Mercury.
Other bands that immediately come to mind are Oceansize, Magnum, Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come (the music not the vocals), and Brimstone Solar Radiation Band.
And the exceptional vocal harmonies on the track “Kubrick Moon” bring to mind the YES album “Drama”, as well as Jeff Lynne's Electric Light Orchestra, and the Canadian band Klaatu.
As strange as the name Kingbathmat may be it's a wonder it's not bandied about more often in prog rock circles and internet discussion groups. These guys are just as killer – if not more so - as the bands they're often compared to.
Kingbathmat combines energetic heavy metal mayhem with adventurous prog/rock sensibilities, classic pop vocal harmonies and intricate hook laden melodies with bizarre lyrical content, and outstanding individual musicianship from the entire band: John Bassett (guitar, vocals), David Georgiou (keyboards), Rob Watts (bass), and Bernie Smirnoff (drums).
As is the case with many progressive rock albums as of late, “Overcoming The Monster” is a concept album. As described by the band:
"Overcoming The Monster" deals with the theme of psychological obstacles (monsters of the mind) that are manufactured in our thoughts, both internally through our insecurities, externally by the outside influence of others and collectively through the mass media which uses fear as a tool to manipulate our perceptions. "Overcoming The Monster" addresses the need to ignore these clandestine forms of control and rise above the Illusory obstacles that are placed in our path in order to deliberately block opportunities that are accessible to everybody.”
Can't pinpoint any one particular track as outstanding because the whole thing is excellent from beginning to end. No weak spots or fillers anywhere on the disc. Sure to make my list as one of the ten best albums of 2013.
Exceptional album and highly recommended.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on July 7th, 2013