KingBathmat – Truth Button

In the modern scheme of progressive music, alternative rock now plays as much of a popular influence on the scene as do the style’s traditional draws of classical and jazz music. Among other greats, Porcupine Tree, The Mars Volta and Radiohead are some of the best known groups keeping progressive rock up to date and with the times. KingBathmat (a name as odd as any you’re bound to come across) aligns themselves with this forward thinking trend in progressive rock. Although their arrangements occasionally tip the hat towards the genre’s original legends, “Truth Button” is a solid fusion of prog and alt rock. The two halves are given equal credence and proportion in the style, and though KingBathmat have left room for further improvement on this album, it’s rare to hear such a smooth combination of the old and the new.

Although progressive rock is the heart and soul of “Truth Button”, I was surprised to hear such a heavy grunge sound at play here. Yes, grunge, the celebration of everything opposite of the traditional progging spirit. Although the two schools are in direct conflict on paper, KingBathmat makes the two work together. Although a modern rock sounds pervades the songwriting, much of the strictly grungy vibe on “Truth Button” is confined to the guitar tones, which retain a crisp clarity in the production in spite of the fuzzy textures. Although progressive rock is certainly no stranger to loud guitars, the riff-oriented nature of KingBathmat is incredibly overt. Although the song structures ultimately favour the sort of complexity and longform structures that so often appear in progressive music, many of these riffs are the sort of thing you might hear on a modern radio rock single. This balance between accessible and proggy elements largely defines what frontman John Bassett and co. have done on “Truth Button”.

Adding upon the hard rock foundation, KingBathmat layers their sound with spacey effects and vintage keyboard licks. Particularly on the gorgeous extended instrumental segment of “The End of Evolution”, the way these synths have been incorporated into the sound are incredibly effective, although these elements are used decidedly less than they could have been. Although these songs tend to reach for the infamous ten minute mark, they are each based around melodies that you’ll likely find yourself humming along to by second spin. Although John’s vocals are not particularly skilled from a technical perspective (his harmonies often run flat), he has a welcome warmth and sincerity to his voice, and a slightly nasal quality that works well with the band’s alternative rock roots. Although the addition of the synths do alot to flesh out their mix, “Truth Button”s purely rock-oriented moments feel a little barebones. Although the tone of the guitar is rich, it generally feels too highly mixed. I get the impression that KingBathmat were trying to get the feeling of a raw, live performance across in the recording, the loudness of the album mix tends to distract from the more subtle details.

“Truth Button” is a solid exclamation that progressive rock can be accessible and even catchy. KingBathmat bring a strong set of compositions to this latest album, although their most promising progressive elements feel underused. In any case, KingBathmat successfully translate the progressive mentality onto the modern sound of rock, and that sort of thinking is something we need more of in the years to come.


1. Behind The Wall
2. Abintra
3. Book Of Faces
4. The End Of Evolution
5. Dives And Pauper
6. Coming To Terms With Mortality in the face of Insurmountable Odds

Digital release includes bonus tracks
7. Slipstream
8. Lines and Dots
9. Dives and Pauper (alternative version)
10. The Ugly Truth


* John Bassett – bass,vocals
* Lee Sulsh – guitar
* Bernie Smirnoff – drums


Nikola Savić is a prog enthusiast, blogger and author, in addition to being the founder of Prog Sphere, Progify, ProgLyrics and the ongoing Progstravaganza compilation series.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: