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Psychotic Waltz - A Social Grace CD (album) cover

A SOCIAL GRACE

Psychotic Waltz

 

Progressive Metal

4.10 | 270 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars A debut that kicked things off in the right direction for Psychotic Waltz.

What I really like about this band is their ability to create complex intricate music that has the distinctive metal edge and very dynamic singing style. The lead breaks are as good as you will hear and the structure of each track is replete with energetic time signatures ranging from speed metal blasts to acoustic and flute beauty. The album begins with a very pronounced style and typifies the type of music Psychotic Waltz revel in. There are twin lead breaks and multilayered riffing throughout from Rock and McAlpin, with some inspired percussion by Leggio. The vocals of Lackey, who is actually known today as Devon Graves, are a trademark for the band, and he is able to sing gently and melodically on songs such as the intro to Halo Of Thorns, and he is also able to belt out killer songs such as Another Prophet Song.

Often Lackey is harmonised with his own multi tracked vocals, high falsetto tenor to mid range alto. The sound of the album is rather raw, as is typical of a metal debut during the early 90s. At times I would like to hear more bass and distortion and a better mix, but it is very complex and seems to flow fluidly from one track to the next.

Highlights abound, such as the technical metal of the opening track, and the progressive heavy Another Prophet Song with a killer riff and strong vocals that at times remind me of early Ozzy. The metrical shifts are vigorous with a tight bass and drum rhythm section underplaying insane guitar licks. The swathes of synth from Lackey augment the intricacy of the track. Another classic track is Successor, that has some dark choppy riffs at the intro, and then a very fast complex guitar motif. The vocals sound backmasked and strange, this is a real treat on the album. The odd time sig is as bizarre as metal gets, and it keeps changing and taking unexpected detours almost randomly it seems.

The awesome In This Place has some crazy drumming; a genuinely sporadic beat with very elaborate riffage. The way the song keeps changing direction is a progressive characteristic, thus the band are one of the first prog metal bands to surface in the 90s. During the lead break a voice explains the meaning of Psychotic Waltz, "is a trip through time, the subconscious brain, an expose of time, a state of mind, a psycho analyst." The lyrics with echoed vocal effects make some kind of sense such as; "I cannot stand to see what I see, I can't stand this place, just say goodnight my friend, what you hear with your eyes, kiss me goodnight my friend". One to download and check out for yourself.

There are quiet moments of exquisiteness such as in I Remember, that floats along a sea of acoustic and flute with Jethro Tull like vocals, and dedicated to Ian Anderson! It builds gradually to a dynamic lead flute break, that is beautiful and dreamy. It reminds me of the flute on any Tull or Nights In White Satin's break.

Sleeping Dogs is an instrumental with synth pads and very spacey effects that may be reminiscent of Hawkwind, and the pulsating drones and effects have an ethereal atmosphere. The album sounds very different at this point but delightfully so.

After this gorgeous interlude the riffs return in a powerful track I Of The Storm. Another highlight, with slow power metal guitar chords and amazing majestic vocals. The lead break of twin guitars are wonderful. As always the song changes tempo throughout into fractured rhythm shapes. At the end it takes off into speed metal territory.

A lone piano begins A Psychotic Waltz, then is joined by acoustic and very high vocals; "turning and winding in circles they spin never ending". The crawl metal signature follows and eventually the track blasts out an excellent lead guitar solo, with string bends and fret melting hammer ons. A strong composition that moves along patiently and methodically.

Only In A Dream has soft acoustic and a very pretty melody to begin with. The band are very capable of beautiful tunes and ambience. It threatens to break out and does in the first verse, a sparrow dying with broken wings is the topic here. The lead work spirals out of control at times, speed licks and high fret arpeggios played to perfection.

Spiral Tower is one of my favourites, that begins with high feedback loops and whammy bar trills that create a dark doomy atmosphere. The manic laughing that follows and slow riff further augments the darkness. Eventually the verse slams out in a wonderful memorable riff and powerful vocals. One of the best lead breaks follows with twin harmonics and high pitched screams.

The longest track is only 6:38 but Strange is one of the best Psychotic Waltz with heaps of lead breaks and time sig shifts in tempo. The mood is dark and aggressive, and I adore the time sig changes to open up space for some incredible lead work. The complexity of the piece is undoubted and there is even an eerie vocal effect mid way through with high pitched King Diamond vocals. This one has extreme technical percussion and bass, violent riffing and powerhouse vocals. An absolute masterpiece track.

It ends with Nothing, beginning with more acoustic flourishes played virtuoso style. Crunching distorted chords follow, and a slow beat over the vocals. The time changes are there and it ends in a fury of fiery metal riffs.

So as far as a debut goes, the band hit the nail on the head in every department, metal riffs, lead work and vocals are exemplary. The best was yet to come for the band definitely on such albums such as the amazing masterpiece "Into The Everflow", but this is a solid debut and deserves recognition from all metal addicts.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |

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