“Our next album sounds like Darkside of The Moon meets Sgt Peppers.” Those were the kind of extravagant and wholly incorrect claims that Liam Gallagher was wont to make around about the time Oasis should have been entering their imperial phase but instead turned into a lumpen dad rock tribute act.
Kasabian, the band always most likely to be the new Oasis, never bothered with making such idle boasts; they went about fashioning ambitious suites of vintage but futuristic rock music that saw genuine progression from album to album.
Their brand of mouthy grandiosity ushers in their fourth release (which is named after the real star of Jurassic Park) with the tcsshh of a gong and mariachi brass leaving us in doubt that Velociraptor! is going to be a stately affair. As befits a band named after Linda Kasabian, a member of the Charles Manson cult, these 11 new songs summon up the occult, terrace chants (well maybe terrace chants from Chelsea fans) and middle eastern mysticism.
That gong introduces Let's Roll Just Like We Used To, an epic tale of two boys in open wastelands looking out to the horizon. Songwriter Serge Pizzorno says the in question are him and vocalist Tom Meighan when they were buachaillí and who cares if they were probably playing on a building site in their native Leicester because those kind of enjoyable mock heroics are everywhere amid the dense throb of Velociraptor!
The thunderous Days Are Forgotten is similarly epic and bristling with terrible portent and lines about “chewing on monkey brains” which suggests Kasabian haven’t been poring over the Tibetian Book of The Dead but watching re-runs of Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom. La Fee Verte (the French nickname given to the drink absinthe) is slippery withy retro psychedelia and an ominous atmosphere of dislocation and paranoia.
The title track is a breathless tumble in the undergrowth on which Meighan elongates his vowels to sound his most Gallagheresque and while Acid Turkish Bath (Shelter From The Storm) relives the spirit of Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir, maybe Switchblade Smiles pours on the distorted Prodigy big beats a little too strong.
In places, Velociraptor! lumbers like a Brontosaurus and not the snappy creature of the title, but Kasabian may just be entering something of an imperial phase for their own.