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Psychotic Waltz - A Social Grace CD (album) cover

A SOCIAL GRACE

Psychotic Waltz

 

Progressive Metal

4.17 | 195 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

hdfisch
Prog Reviewer
5 stars One might argue whether Psychotic Waltz' debut has been their strongest album, but for sure it was their least accessible one containing the most complex compositions they've ever done. Though sounding still quite rough and slightly premature compared to the following one "Into The Everflow" it contains everything essential for a masterly done prog metal album. I've to admit it really took me quite a few listens before I started to be fascinated by the odd and unobvious beauty of the tracks offered here. Actually none of the 13 songs sounds like the other making this album to one of the most impressing debuts ever released by a band. The sound is changing from aggressive thundering guitar riffs to more quiet acoustic and melancholic sounds, from highly complex technical or distorted metal to easily accessible flute-dominated ballads and from tenacious creepers to footstomping rockers.

Shining star of this release is certainly lead singer, flautist and pianist Buddy Lackey whose unique, at times rather high-pitched voice needs getting used to in the beginning but is really infatuating at the same time. So let's look (or better listen) a bit closer to the tracks offered here. ".And The Devil Cries" opens the disk in a highly meaty way with quite aggressive, complex and technical playing of guitar and drums. But despite all technical skill displayed by the musicians the music isn't dominated at all by mere virtuosity and still sounds quite melodic. "Halo Of Thorns" starts like a mellow acoustic ballad with Buddy Lackey's great vocals before heavier sections are alternating with acoustic ones revealing complex harmonies and many odd-time signatures. "Another Prophet Song" is the first real highlight (though actually there isn't any track really outstanding here since all of them are just great) being slightly easier accessible than the two previous ones but offering as well high complexity with awesome guitar and drums. Most of the track sounds rather heavy but there's also a quiet acoustic section in between. "Successor" and "In This Place" both have an extremely distorted, insane and unique sound with once again mind-blowing heavy and intricate tech-metal playing. Especially the second one is another great highlight of this album. "I Remember" which is dedicated to Ian Anderson is a rather quiet acoustic ballad but far away from being just an ordinary one done by other metal bands. Though it might sound certainly highly Tull-reminiscent I'm not aware of any other band apart from the original having done something like this in such a brilliant way. This one is for sure the most beautiful song here and another highlight! "Sleeping Dogs" is a rather short instrumental with an industrial synthesizer sound, very unique as well and actually quite different from the other tracks on here. Next one "I Of The Storm" is a very heavy and moderately complex track whereas "A Psychotic Waltz" starts with acoustic sound by piano and guitar before Lackey enters with his unique vocals and the track's becoming an excellent slightly heavy and slowly creeping sort of "insane hippie metal ballad". This one's just another highlight! "Only In A Dream" sounds as well mellow in the beginning with an intro by acoustic guitar and percussion before it changes to a heavy rocker. "Spiral Tower" is another unique track with quite insanely sounding sinister vocals and great guitar and drum play. After an acoustic intro "Strange" reveals a rather morbid sound and many complex and odd rhythm changes. This one together with the final "Nothing" which shows as well a very nice versatile structure starting from mellow acoustic guitar and continuing with heavy rocking staccato rhythms is a perfect punch line for a really extraordinary album.

As a summary I can say that "A Social Grace" was an absolutely unique debut by an exceptional and legendary band and a definite must-have in any well-sorted prog-metal collection. Though being admittedly not as perfectly polished as its follow-up I can't deny to give it as well a full-score rating and to use an expression taken from ice-skating I'd like to call it their "freestyle masterpiece" whereas "Into The Everflow" was their "short programme".

hdfisch | 5/5 |

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