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Psychotic Waltz - A Social Grace / Mosquito CD (album) cover

A SOCIAL GRACE / MOSQUITO

Psychotic Waltz

 

Progressive Metal

4.57 | 18 ratings

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UMUR
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "A Social Grace / Mosquito" is a box-set by US progressive metal act Psychotic Waltz. The box-set was released in 2004 by Metal Blade Records.

Psychotic Waltz is one of the most unique acts when it comes to progressive metal. Their style is not easily explained and allthough it holds elements from the traditional part of the progressive metal genre, other influences are strong too. Especially on the early releases by the band, there are strong influences from both thrash metal, traditional heavy metal and power metal. Another influence is 70s progressive rock and hard rock. Lead vocalist Buddy Lackey has for example always stated that Jethro Tull is his favorite band. Buddy Lackeyīs vocals and psychadelic tinged lyrics have always been defining for Psychotic Waltz sound and image, but the twin guitar attack by Dan Rock and Brian McAlpine is also a significant element in their sound. Norm Leggio on drums and Ward Evans on bass both have great importance and impact on the bandīs sound. The sound that Psychotic Waltz create are more than anything a group effort. This is the kind of act where everyone works in union to create something unique.

This boxset consists of Psychotic Waltz debut full-length studio album "A Social Grace (1990)", their 3rd full-length studio album "Mosquito (1994)" and a DVD with the promo videos for "Faded" and "My grave" from the bandīs 4th full-length studio album "Bleeding (1996)". There are also about 30 minutes of live materiel from the CD release party of "A Social Grace" featured on the DVD. Does this sound confusing to you? I think it does. Why on earth didnīt they release the two first albums on the same box-set? and number 3 and 4 together on another box-set. It must be quite confusing for a new fan to get album number 1 and 3 instead of getting number 1 and 2. Well...my issues aside this is still a great release and a great opportunity to get a couple of Psychotic Waltz albums that have been out of print for a while.

Letīs talk about the music then:

"A Social Grace":

"A Social Grace" is the debut full-length studio album by Psychotic Waltz. The album was originally released in 1990 and has strong influences from traditional heavy metal, thrash metal/ US power metal and a great deal of progressive rock/ psychadelic rock elements. Psychotic Waltz already had their own unique style and sound on "A Social Grace" as theyīve had on every album theyīve released.

The album starts with "...And the Devil Cried" which is a very powerful opener. Itīs probably the fastest paced track Psychotic Waltz has recorded yet and it has parts that sounds like thrash metal/ US power metal, but also some pretty complex instrumental parts and solos that place "...And the Devil Cried" firmly in the progressive metal catagory. Buddy Lackey sings with a conviction that gives me goosebumps every time. A really good start to a great album. "Halo of Thorns" follow and itīs definitely one of the most beautiful songs on the album. Itīs kind of a mini epic and it features a very dramatic and theatrical atmosphere, with Buddy Lackey singing both subtle and more commanding in the finale of the song. There are some beautiful acoustic work in "Halo of Thorns", but the song ends with some epic distorted riffing.

"Another Prophet Song" is a strong progressive metal track with a psychadelic middle section featuring percussion. Buddy Lackey sings some great vocal lines in this song. "Successor" is also a very powerful song featuring one of Buddy Lackeyīs strongest vocal performances IMO. "In This Place" is a heavily effect laden track. The guitars are distorted (using phaser) in a special way in this song but it works perfectly. "I Remember" is the ballad of the album and it introduces Buddy Lackeyīs flute playing. Itīs a very beautiful song which is very obviously Jethro Tull influenced but ultimately sounds unmistakably like Psychotic Waltz. "I Remember" is definitely one of the highlight on the album. It turned out to be a live favorite for the band as well. It successfully provide a feeling of melancholy, nostalgia and longing.

"Sleeping Dogs" is a psychadelic keyboard intro to the next track "I Of The Storm" which is a strong track with some pretty heavy riffing. "A Psychotic Waltz" is a semi-ballad and stands out as being exceptionally beautiful. "Only In A Dream" begins with an acoustic intro and then into a more metal based song. Both "Spiral Tower" and "Strange" are psychadelic progressive metal tunes while "Nothing" is a more traditional heavy track.

The album features a pretty raw and unpolished sound production. Iīm sure itīs was due to not having enough money enough pay for more professional sounding production. I want to emphasise though that the production does not ruin the music in any way. It rather gives the music an organic and authentic charm.

"Mosquito":

"Mosquito" is the 3rd full-length studio album by Psychotic Waltz. The album was originally released in 1994 and the direction the band took on the album was a bit of a shock for most fans as it is very different from the two previous album releases. "A Social Grace" and "Into the Everflow (1992)" are very different sounding too, but they a similar progressive and adventurous approach which doesnīt have in the same way. The music on "Mosquito" are more structurally simple than was the case with the more structurally complex music on the first two albums by the band and thatīs probably the biggest obstacle for the fans, who at the time was expecting a very technical sounding progressive metal album, but ultimately got something very different from what they expected. The sound on "Mosquito" is mainly very different due to the fact that it was recorded and produced by Scott Burns at Morrisound Studios in Florida. The legendary Morrisound Studios is mostly known for the large number of thrash and especially death metal productions that they were involved in in the later eighties and early ninetes. Acts like Death, Atheist, Cynic, Napalm Death, Deicide, Obituary, Cannibal Corpse, Malevolent Creation, Monstrosity...etc. recorded albums in that studio. Most of them with Scott Burns as the producer. Most of the acts who recorded their albums at Morrisound Studios were notably more extreme than Psychotic Waltz. If you are familiar with Scott Burns productions, itīll come as no surprise that "Mosquito" sounds much darker and much heavier than the sound on both "A Social Grace" and "Into the Everflow".

The music on "Mosquito" is generally much more psychadelic and dark than the music on the previous albums and the tracks are generally more vers/chorus structured. This doesnīt necessarily mean that the tracks are easily accessible though. This is still progressive metal with a relatively high complexity level. The album opens with the excellent title track which is played in some pretty odd time signatures but itīs generally a very catchy track. There are some great atmospheric samples in the song too. "Lovestone Blind" is a dynamic, heavy riff based and powerful track while the next track "Haze One" is more psychadelic tinged. "Shattered Sky" features a bit of flute playing by Buddy Lackey and Iīd call that a psychadelic tinged track too. "Cold" is one of the highlights on "Mosquito". Great progressive metal song. Note how atmosphere creating the guitars are in the middle part of this song. The way those notes are played makes it sound like they float. "All the Voices" is another psychadelic tinged track on the album. "Dancing in the Ashes" is the most energetic track on "Mosquito" and a real rocker. Nice to have a song like that on an album that is mostly slow- to mid tempo paced. "Only Time" is pretty laid back psychadelic. Note those beautiful twin guitar leads near the end. Itīs one of the few moments on "Mosquito" that reminds me sligthly of the guitar work on "Into the Everflow". "Locked Down" is a pretty heavy yet energetic song but not quite as energetic as "Dancing in the Ashes". "Mindsong" closes the album in epic style. Itīs a unique song in Psychotic Waltz discography as it has a reggae rythm. There are lots of beautiful vocal parts and guitars themes throughout this song and it is generally pretty laid back and stoned yet with an epic feel. "Mindsong" is the longest track on "Mosquito" but itīs not as long as your CD player will tell you as there are a couple of minutes of silence before the hidden track "Darkness" properly closes the album. Itīs a short Dan Rock synth composition.

Allthough "Mosquito" was a great disappointment to many fans when it was released, itīs an excellent album IMO and if you look at it in a retrospective light, there are not any other album that sound like it. This is truly a unique and innovative album. Itīs neither the most artistically or commercially successful album by Psychotic Waltz, but if you ask me itīs an essential album in the history of progressive metal.

Bonus DVD:

Well... to be honest Iīm not very interested in DVDs in the first place and when the material is as confusing and of bad quality as it is here, I think itīs more or less a waste of time. The promo videos for "Faded" and "My Grave" are allright but the "A Social Grace" CD Release Party Soma, San Diego 1991 is only a hardcore fan thing. The quality is too low to be of interest for anyone but the diehard fans. I canīt understand that promo videos from the bandīs 4th album "Bleeding" ended up on an allready confusing box-set which consists of the 1st and the 3rd albums by the band. Itīs a strange choise IMO. I try to see this is a bonus feature and of course you shouldnīt complain about a free DVD.

My overall impression of this box-set, even though the choice of material is a bit confusing, is that it is an essential purchase if youīre a fan of progressive metal. For fans of the band who already have the CDs itīs only the bonus DVD that holds any interest, and this feature is only for the diehard fans. Because of the format of the box-set with all the confusing material choices my rating would have been 3 stars if it wasnīt for the fact that the music contained within are some of the most essential progressive metal out there. You just gotta give Psychotic Waltz a chance if you have even the slightest interest in progressive metal IMO. 5 stars are deserved.

UMUR | 5/5 |

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