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Psychotic Waltz - Into The Everflow / Bleeding CD (album) cover

INTO THE EVERFLOW / BLEEDING

Psychotic Waltz

Progressive Metal


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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 [%*!#]ing 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.

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Send comments to Marc Baum (BETA) | Report this review (#49856)
Posted Monday, October 03, 2005 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Psychotic Waltz is one of my favorite bands when it comes to progressive metal. Their style is not easily explained and allthough it holds elements from the symphonic part of the progressive metal genre, other influences are strong too. For instance Buddy Lackey has always stated that Jethro Tull is his favorite band. Buddyīs vocals and lyrics have always been defining for Psychotic Waltz sound and image, but the twin guitar attack from 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 in the band too. The sounds that Psychotic Waltz creates are more than anything a group effort. This is the kind of band where everyone works in union to create something unique.

The CD boxset from Psychotic Waltz includes their second album Into the Everflow and their fourth album Bleeding and a bonus CD with demos from the Into the Everflow sessions. The Aslan demo is also included on the bonus CD. Psychotic Waltz was named Aslan before changing their name. I will complain about the same thing I did with the A Social Grace/ Mosquito boxset which is that whoever got the idea for making boxsets which paired two Psychotic Waltz albums chose to pair album number 1 and 3, and album number 2 and 4. Itīs such a strange disposition and not a succesful one IMO. I would much rather have seen A Social Grace and Into the Everflow in the same boxset and Mosquito and Bleeding on the other. Well after a bit of complaining lets talk about this boxset.

Into the Everflow:

After the beautiful yet unpolished debut album A Social Grace the fans were expecting something big from Psychotic Waltz and with Into the Everflow thatīs exactly what they got. In my book Into the Everflow is simply one of the best albums ever made. I canīt count the times I have listened to this album and itīs difficult to explain how highly I regard it. Let me just say that you shouldnīt miss out on this one. Leave you wife, forget the kids in the desert but donīt miss out on Into the Everflow.

The music has changed towards a more psychadelic sound compared to the sound on A Social Grace. There were also a lot of psychadelic elements on A Social Grace but they are more obvious on Into the Everflow. This is mostly due to Buddy Lackeyīs singing style and strange seemingly drug induced lyrics, but some of the instrumentation points toward a more ( stoned) psychadelic sound as well. The music is highly complex though so donīt expect some stoned out rock/ metal without punch. Besides Buddy Lackeyīs distinct and beautiful vocal delivey and innovative vocal melodies the rythm section also has a very distinct style. The most exciting thing for me has always been how the two guitarists Dan Rock and Brain McAlpin compliments each other though. Lots of wah wah, vibrato arm abuse and beautiful twin leads that I have never heard this amazing before or since for that matter. Buddy Lackey is also credited for playing keyboards, but to my knowledge it was always Dan Rock who played the keyboard parts live ( at least he did the two times I witnessed Psychotic Waltz live). The keyboard and piano parts which are not a dominant feature on Into the Everflow are very beautiful and compliments the music very well.

Ashes starts the album with lots of symphonic synth and odd spacey noises until acoustic guitar kicks in. The singing starts imidiatly after the drums kick in and then notice the beautiful double sweeping guitars underneath. Ashes was not my favorite song to start with, but I love it today. Simply amazing. Ashes seques directly into Out of Mind which is the most energetic song on the album. It has some strange rythm patterns and Buddy Lackey sings some smooth high pitched vocal lines and some strange lyrics. Tiny Streams is a great song and in line with Out of Mind itīs a really heavy song with some twisted lyrics. Note the guitar riff at the beginning of the song which is really strange and fully showcases the innovative nature of Psychotic Waltz. The title track is the next song and itīs one of my alltime favorite songs. Itīs a slow building symphonic metal song with the most beautiful twin guitar work I have ever heard. Every time I listen to this song it becomes grander. I will never get tired of listening to Into the Everflow. Itīs challenging, heavy, emotional and beautiful. Maybe the best progressive metal track ever written.

Little People is one of the most aggressive songs on Into the Everflow. Buddy Lackey really shines with his fierce vocal delivery on this track as he spits out his wrath: When they wake up, with perfect makeup, it makes me sick. As I also mentioned in my regular review of Into the Everflow this is Buddyīs kick in the balls to conformity and his ode to the freaks of this world. Hanging on a String is a beautiful ballad type song and easily the most accessible track on the album. Itīs my least favorite track here but it is very beautiful. Freakshow is another track comparable to Out of Mind, Tiny Streams and Little People. Great innovative progressive metal with lots of different parts and moods as only Psychotic Waltz could do it. Butterfly is the ending epic of the album and itīs an outstanding track. There are lots of parts and sections in the song which include a percussion driven middle section with occasional wah wah guitar walls. The lyrics have no real meaning except Buddy sings lines from some of his favorite artists like Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath, Jimmy Hendrix, The Doors and others. Disturbing the Priest is a Black Sabbath cover that was not on the original CD release but has been added on the rerelease and on this box set. Itīs nothing special really.

The musicianship on Into the Everflow is outstanding all the way through. Buddy Lackey delivers his best performance ever on this album and weīre presented with all facettes of his vocal abilities from soft and beautiful singing to his angry powerful style. The rythm section also plays their most challenging parts on Into the Everflow while the guitars simply blow me back in my chair every time I listen to the album. This is so innovative, powerful and intelligent that I canīt compare Psychotic Waltz to any other band. They are simply that unique on Into the Everflow.

The production might be a weak spot for some as it isnīt the most professional sounding recording in the world. I have always enjoyed it though and donīt feel that itīs a problem.

Into the Everflow is a groundbreaking release and a really unique progressive metal album. It has not been rivaled since and it still stands as one of the most significant progressive metal albums ever released. It fully deserves the masterpiece stamp and a 5 star rating.

Bleeding:

Bleeding was the last album from Psychotic Waltz. The band had grown steadily more tired of their complex style and wanted to make a more straight forward metal album. This was a tendency that already shone through on their previous album Mosquito. The music is still slightly more sophisticated and progressive than you usual metal album but the songs doesnīt have complex structures or long solos as they had in the past. The music is very melodic and memorable though and even though the technical level is lower than on previous efforts this is still a very good progressive metal album with that special Psychotic Waltz sound.

There had been a lineup change since Mosquito as Ward Evans had left the band to be replaced by new bass player Phil Cuttino. Psychotic Waltz made promo videos for Faded and My Grave which marked the first time they had made promo videos for an album. New man Phil Cuttino filmed the video for Faded. A video which unfortunately would be one of the reasons behind the demise of Psychotic Waltz as a crew member later sued the band claiming that a light on the set had caused him blindness. This coupled with musical differences meant the end of Psychotic Waltz.

Faded starts the album and itīs a great energetic song with some strange lyrics about UFOs. Locust is my favorite track from Bleeding. It stars out in a psychadelic way and ends symphonic. Note the rumbling basslines from new man Phil Cuttino. Morbid is up next and itīs yet another melodic song with a beautiful vocal line. The title track is another highlight and together with Locust my favorite here on Bleeding. Itīs such an excellent song. Need is one of the more progressive tracks on Bleeding. Note the beautiful guitars in the outro. Drift is a beautiful dark and melancholic song.

Northern Lights is another highlight. melodic and longing. The lyrics are about Buddy Lackeyīs trip through Amsterdam after smoking the special Dutch skunk weed called Nothern Lights. Anyone who ever smoked weed should be able to relate to this song. Sleep is another melodic metal song while My Grave is a typical Buddy Lackey penned song with flute. Great track even though it will never beat the anthemic I Remember from A Social Grace ( Another Buddy Lackey penned song with his signature flute playing). Skeleton is up next and itīs an uptempo rocker. The last song is Freedom? and allthough itīs not my favorite itīs still a great song.

The musicianship is excellent and even though we donīt hear too much virtuosic playing the interplay is great. The guitars are still unique and the melody lines are unmistakebly Psychotic Waltz.

The production and the mixing was done by Dan Rock and engineer Woody Barber while Scott Burns ( famous producer for bands like Death, Cynic, Ahteist, Malevolent Creation, Cannibal Corpse, Obituary, Napalm Death, Sepultura, Deicide and many other primarely extreme metal acts) did the engineering.

Bleeding is my least favorite among Psychotic Waltz albums but itīs still a big 4 star album and that proves how excellent all four studio albums from Psychotic Waltz are. This is essential listening if you like your progressive metal a little out of the ordinary and with strange psychadelic features.

Bonus-CD: Into The Everflow Demo:

Well this is not my idea of fun. This is internal demo material only meant for the bands ears and it should have stayed that way IMO. Iīm not interested in listening to demo material unless it was meant for promotion in the first place. The Aslan demo is a much more interesting artifact as this was the first official release from Psychotic Waltz albeit under a different name. The music is much more in traditional heavy metal territory than progressive metal territory even though we get an early version of Spiral Tower. Take this CD for what it is: A BONUS strictly meant for the hardcore fans.

Conclusion for the boxset:

Psychotic Waltz have lost some of their unique charm on Bleeding but since this boxset also includes one of the contesters for being my alltime favorite album in Into the Everflow this is definitely a 5 star boxset IMO. This is not only a worthy purchase for the fans whose CDs might be worn out after relentless listening sessions this is also a must if you have even the slightest interest in progressive metal.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#181803)
Posted Friday, September 05, 2008 | Review Permalink

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