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

A SOCIAL GRACE / MOSQUITO

Psychotic Waltz

 

Progressive Metal

4.54 | 19 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Marc Baum
Prog Reviewer
5 stars There have been a handful of metal acts that never received the recognition they were due. I still shake my head in disgust at the lack of exposure US Thrash act Holy Terror received in the late 80's - Anacrusis, Solitude Aeturnus, Only Living Witness and even Armored Saint are members of the same club.

US Progressive act Psychotic Waltz is perhaps one of the most over looked and thoroughly underrated acts in the heavy music genre. Oh, sure this mob of geniuses had an extremely loyal following back in the day, but you can't help but think that world wide recognition was at their finger tips if they could have avoided the label problems that seemed to plague them until their premature demise in 1997.

When I received word that Metal Blade records were going to re-issue the four full- length studio albums that Psychotic Waltz released in the 90's, all I could say was 'bout fucking time!!' Until now, they have long been deleted, impossible to find. This has presented much frustration for the prog metal fan that has continually read about the legacy of PW and their unique brand of music. Personally, my taped copy of 1990's 'A Social Grace' was has seem better days. As for the others, well like most people I've only read about them (although I did own 1994's 'Mosquito' for a while before stupidly off-loading it somewhere).

As a progressive metal act, there is no doubt that Psychotic Waltz was superior to most. Their brand of heaviness and musicianship was highly original and unique in every facet. The only other acts that comes holds some resemblance is Fates Warning and Jethro Tull - and that's really only the case for 1990's 'A Social Grace'. Each subsequent release saw the PW develop their own inimitable style. Personally, I think their experimental, syncopated groove remains unmatched to this day.

The box sets released by Metal Blade are simply stunning pieces of work. In line with most re-issues, these two sets contain a little more than the original albums. Each box is in fact a three disc set - Box 1 includes - 1990's 'A Social Grace' and 1994's "Mosquito' plus a bonus DVD which features the only two video clips the band ever did (for 'Faded' and 'My Grave' - both from 1996's 'Bleeding') plus a entire live set recorded at the 'A Social Grace' release party in 1991. Box 2 includes 1992's 'Into the Everflow' and 1996's 'The Bleeding' plus a bonus 10 track disc featuring two demo's - one for the '..Everflow' album and the other when the band was known as Aslan. Add to this some breathtaking packaging - cardboard slipcases with new artwork and graphics, rare pictures, all lyrics and great liner notes from esteemed reviewer Ula Gehret. With the added involvement of the band themselves, nothing has been skimped upon here - they are both brilliantly conceived packages. The only slightly confusing aspect that you may have already noticed is that the original albums are not packaged in chronological order rather albums 1 & 3 together and 2 & 4 together. I'm not sure why this has been done.

It would take me another four pages to actually review each of these discs separately. For the purpose of these box set releases I'd rather keep things brief (but no less informative). It is possible to view the PW catalogue in two parts - their first two albums ('Grace and Everflow') represent the band at their most technical, experimental and psychedelic. Certainly they are ingenious releases and in particular 'Everflow' remains untouched in its rich melodies, adventurous riffs and harmonic lead work. The majestic vocals and lyrical prose of Buddy Lackey are also a major highlight. Their next two albums ('Mosquito and Bleeding') can be categorized as PW's 'Groove' albums. This is where PW admits to purposely writing slightly less complicated material opting for more obvious hooks and groovier riffs. 'Mosquito' was actually labeled, as a 'sell-out' by the die-hard fans such was their disgust at PW ditching the off kilter technical thread that so enamored 'Everflow'. It's a harsh card to be dealt and really it's a little perplexing - personally, I think 'Mosquito' is nothing short of incredible. 'Bleeding' is even better its overall combination of styles (technicality, heaviness and groove) they displayed on the three previous discs - Probably my favorite PW disc of the four.

Since disbanding in 1997, the members of PW have not been idle. Prog-rock/metal fans are certainly aware of vocalist Buddy Lackey's movements who now works under the name Devon Graves with his band 'Dead Soul Tribe' (who are just as essential!!). Guitarist Dan Rock has his semi-instrumental act 'Darkstar' and drummer Norm Leggio plays in 'Teabag'.

Psychotic Waltz was in their own league as a metal band - original, unique and thoroughly captivating in every sense. Criminally ignored at their peak (particularly in their home country - the US didn't even start listening until 'Bleeding'), they undoubtedly deserved worldwide recognition. Perhaps it will come now, belated as it is. I am absolutely thrilled with these two box set releases. For fans of timeless progressive metal they are essential items. No (progressive) metal collection is complete without them as far as I am concerned.

Marc Baum | 5/5 |

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