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Headspace - I Am Anonymous CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.86 | 260 ratings

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4 stars "Doesn't It Make You Feel Like Murdering Someone?"

It took me a while to get my hands on I Am Anonymous. Back in the distant past of 2012, it was right at the top of my list. That album cover, that name, that logo, the fact that they were touring with Haken all pointed towards this album being insanely badass. At the time, I didn't really know much about the great Damian Wilson aside from the fact that he was once in Threshold, who I kind of liked, and I didn't really care for Adam Wakeman being Rick Wakeman's son, because firstly talent isn't really genetic and secondly I didn't really like Yes to start off with. But I Am Anonymous was supposed to be the greatest damn thing I'd heard in the entire year.

I'll admit, the first time I listened to it I was really disappointed. "God, this sounds like Dream Theater." I said, rather disgruntled. And not a good DT clone either, like Haken. This was the DT clone where they put things in 5/8 simply because they wanted to make it into 5/8, not because it worked with the music. I mean, some of those parts are cool, why are you adding an extra couple of semiquavers just so some idiots can masturbate to numbers? Rather annoyed, I put I Am Anonymous into my 3-star section and went on grumpily.

So now, you're probably wondering what's changed. Or not, since you don't actually give a shit and just want me to talk about the music. But anyway, you'll notice I now give this album a full 4 stars. Although, for many people (who are stupid), 4 stars isn't really a high grade, for me it's a really high grade. In fact, I was even considering raising I Am Anonymous to 4.5 a while ago, but abruptly changed by mind when I got to a certain section, which I will address later. But to be honest, all of my first impressions of this were true to a certain extent, so what changed?

Let's get two things out of the way first that might clear up why I like this album so much now;

1. Damian Wilson's voice is FUCKING AWESOME 2. That guitar tone is FUCKING AWESOME

It's strange how something as simple as that can turn an album of wank into something I genuinely enjoy. Because every time Damian's not singing, there's a riff running along with that really chunky sounding tone. I have no idea why it sounds so awesome, it just does. And Damian's voice is so poignant here. I have since heard him on other albums and I can honestly say this is his best performance, and it's ever so slightly different to what he does elsewhere, the sign of a great singer. The fact that here he does a different delivery to what he does on March of Progress, and yet you can still tell it's the same guy. In trying to describe the vocals here, I have eventually landed on something I call a "James Blunt-ism". And I'm sure there are much better singers than Blunt who do it, but he's probably the most well-known. It's that sort of reserved voice when you pull back and start attempting to sound like Leonard Nimoy. And Wilson's at it for this entire album, and it's fantastic. In fact, the first couple of minutes of "Daddy Fucking Loves You" feature probably the best vocal performance from 2012.

But it's not just that. One of the benefits of having such a chunky and epic guitar tone means that when you get it grooving, YOU GET IT GROOVING. God damn some of these riffs are head-bopping. And yes, they still do that annoying thing Dream Theater do when they change the riff too often for you to get in its rhythm, but songs like "Die With A Bullet" and "Invasion" that stay in the same time signature long enough are damn funky and really get your blood pumping. And the way Damian hits some almost hip-hop inspired rhythms on his vocal is fantastic to both listen to and emulate. In fact, as much as people will kill me for saying this, it reminds me a bit of the way David Draiman from Disturbed accentuates his delivery, with extreme focus on rhythm and giving his voice a more "punchy" feel. Both of the songs are about murdering people, too. They do a pretty good job of translating that into the music, since listening to "Die With A Bullet" while walking does really make me feel like a murderous killing machine.

And although this is a progressive band taking on a pretty serious topic like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, we don't see an abundance of the insanely cheesy lyrics that normally adorn this type of music. In fact, some of the lyrics are actually pretty poignant and well written. I'm not sure who wrote the lyrics here, (although Damian mentioned he wrote "Die With A Bullet" in his thanks column), but the album moves from solemn ("Soldier", "Daddy Fucking Loves You") to absolutely brutal ("Die With A Bullet") and doesn't really feel clichéd or out of place. I love the way that the lyrics, when read from the booklet, read like a train of thought as opposed to a line-by-line poem like a lot of bands. The band tells the tale of post-war and (presumably) flashbacks through the 5 stages of grief. Although this feels like the sort of crap a prog band would pull (each 25 minute song represents a stage of grief!!?!?!!!!1!one), it's not as blatant as that and actually fits the music.

But obviously, I Am Anonymous still has its shortcomings. There are the aforementioned dumb time changes. There's the middle 10 minutes of "Daddy Fucking Loves You" which goes from wank to wank without pause and makes for some of the dreariest listening ever. And then there's "Invasion", which takes too strongly from the wrong end of Porcupine Tree (at times sounding like a direct copy of "The Incident"), but luckily has a pretty decent ending that saves it. There are a few moments that are ruined by solos or stupid keyboard sounds, especially the solo in "Stalled Armageddon" which sounds insanely out of place, and the unnecessary inclusion of the keyboard solo in the almost-perfect "Die With A Bullet". Headspace are still a Dream Theater clone at heart and whenever this comes through it destroys quite a lot of the integrity, but I don't exactly blame them.

I Am Anonymous is most certainly an enjoyable album. It has a lot of character and a lot of melody. Although I listen to it because of the fantastically catchy melodies and stunning vocal delivery, you could just as easily listen to it for technical proficiency and interesting (although personally annoying) rhythmic ideas. I'd like to say that this is an incredible album, but it definitely turns to a complete mess in certain sections. Although for some reason, people seem to like that.


Originally written for my Facebook page/blog:

Gallifrey | 4/5 |


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