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Psychotic Waltz

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Psychotic Waltz A Social Grace album cover
4.09 | 276 ratings | 25 reviews | 36% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1990

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. And the Devil Cried (5:43)
2. Halo of Thorns (5:31)
3. Another Prophet Song (5:27)
4. Succesor (4:12)
5. In This Place (4:10)
6. I Remember (5:28)
7. Sleeping Dogs (1:33)
8. I of the Storm (4:33)
9. A Psychotic Waltz (6:11)
10. Only in a Dream (3:36)
11. Spiral Tower (5:59)
12. Strange (6:38)
13. Nothing (5:44)

Total Time 64:45

Line-up / Musicians

- Buddy Lackey / lead vocals, flute, piano, keyboards, acoustic guitar
- Dan Rock / lead & acoustic 6- & 12-string guitars, keyboards, vibraslap, piano (9)
- Brian McAlpin / lead & acoustic guitars
- Ward Evans / bass, 8-string bass, tambourine
- Norm Leggio / drums, African percussion

Releases information

Artwork: Mike Clift

CD Sub-Sonic ‎- SUS 1102-2 (1990, US)

LP Rising Sun Productions ‎- RSPLP 002 (1990, Germany) Misses 3 tracks from CD (#4, 10 & 11)
2LP Century Media ‎- 9980561 (2011, Germany)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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PSYCHOTIC WALTZ A Social Grace ratings distribution

(276 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(36%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(32%)
Good, but non-essential (17%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (7%)

PSYCHOTIC WALTZ A Social Grace reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars.Talk about making an entrance ! This debut album from PSYCHOTIC WALTZ is complex, loud and clever. This is a 5 piece band with Buddy Lackey (Devon Graves) on vocals, flute, keyboards and acoustic guitar. Dan Rock on lead guitar, 6 & 12 string acoustic guitar and piano. Brian McAlpin lead guitar and acoustic guitar, Norm Leggio on drums and Ward Evans on bass. Such a powerful and complex band.

"...And The Devil Cried" is heavy and complex with vocals. So impressive ! Very precise with some amazing interplay. "Halo Of Thorns" is laid back with acoustic guitar. Reserved vocals come in. It kicks in around 1 1/2 minutes and the contrast continues. Blistering guitar after 4 1/2 minutes. "Another Prophet Song" sounds great ! Very melodic with some excellent guitar leads as the vocals come in. Nice sound when it settles before 2 1/2 minutes. It kicks back in with some outstanding guitar before 4 1/2 minutes. A top three song for me. "Successor" features outbursts of instrumental music that turns into a steady stream. Vocals join in. "In This Place" sounds really good with that heavy sound with vocals. Some spoken words too.

"I Remember" is mellow to start and it gets fuller 1 1/2 minutes in. Flute before 2 1/2 minutes, piano too. "Sleeping Dogs" is almost spacey throughout. Quite different from the rest. No vocals either. "I Of The Storm" is a storm ! Haha. Heavy duty this is with great vocals a minute in. "A Psychotic Waltz" is another top three track for me. Piano to open which is replaced by some tasteful guitar. Vocals a minute in. It kicks in before 1 1/2 minutes. The tempo continues to shift. "Only In A Dream" has a beautiful intro before it kicks in. Love that intro though. The whole song is amazing. Another top three tune. "Spiral Tower" is eerie to begin including a sinister laugh. It kicks in at 1 1/2 minutes. I like this one a lot. Great rhythm too. Check out the guitar before 4 minutes and the vocals. Incredible ! I have to say this is my fourth favourite. "Strange" is relaxed yet heavy before it kicks into gear a minute in. Here we go ! Vocals follow. The calm 3 minutes in is fantastic ! They slow it down to a haunting mood 5 1/2 minutes in. "Nothing" is both powerful and intense. Great sound 4 1/2 minutes in. People are talking to end it.

What a debut ! This cooks, yet it's very intelligent and well thought out. So impressive.

Review by hdfisch
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".

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "A Social Grace" is the debut full-length studio album by US progressive metal act Psychotic Waltz. The album was released through Rising Sun Productions in November 1990. "A Social Grace" was initally released on both CD, vinyl and picture vinyl. The CD release features 3 bonus tracks, not featured on the vinyl editions. Metal Blade Records picked the album up for a CD re-release in 2004 packed with the band´s third full-length studio album "Mosquito (1994)".

Psychotic Waltz started out under the Aslan monicker in 1985, but changed their name in 1986. The band were initially active in the period 1986-1997 and released four studio albums between 1990 and 1996. They didn´t achive any noteworthy commercial success in their initial run, but gained a strong cult following, that among other things enabled them to tour Europe several times. Psychotic Waltz reunited in 2010.

The music on "A Social Grace" is a guitar- and vocal driven type of progressive metal with US power- and thrash metal leanings. Psychotic Waltz also incorporate psychadelic rock influences in their music, which is quite a unique feature. Keyboards/piano are also used, but they are not dominant on the album, and are typically used in dreamlike futuristic/psychadelic sections or to emphasize an epic atmosphere. It´s the dual guitar attack (the two guitarists very seldom play the same notes, but constantly compliment each other´s lines with harmonies, leads/themes, solos, and other features), the strong and adventurous rhythm section, and lead vocalist Buddy Lackey´s (aka Devon Graves) commanding, challenging and powerful vocals that are the center of attention though. While acts like Queensr˙che, Fates Warning and technical thrash metal acts like Realm and Toxik are to some extent valid enough references, Psychotic Waltz are ultimately a very unique sounding act, with a personal sound.

The material on the album are very well written and quite intriguing. Tracks like the opening trio of tracks "...And The Devil Cried", "Halo Of Thorns", "Another Prophet Song", the power ballad "I Remember" (which features a Jethro Tull influenced flute solo courtesy of Buddy Lackey), the almost futuristic sounding "Successor" (which incomprehensibly is not included on the vinyl version), the heavy "I Of The Storm" and the beautiful "A Psychotic Waltz", are among the highlights on "A Social Grace". The few tracks I haven´t mentioned are also high quality progressive metal tracks, but maybe don´t stand out as much as the first mentioned.

The album features a pretty raw and unpolished sound production (the reverb on the vocals isn´t always that pleasant to listen to, the cymbals are a bit too high in the mix and the guitars a bit thin sounding, just to mention a couple of the minor issues with the sound production), but somehow the sound works well with the music. Maybe because of the adventurous and unconventional nature of the material, but there´s something undeniably charming about how "A Social Grace" sounds despite a few issues with the mix.

"A Social Grace" are one of those albums that you´ll recognise instantly when it comes on. That´s how unique sounding it is. It´s also one of the rare examples of psychadelic tinged progressive metal, which to my knowledge is not a sub genre of progressive metal that many artists play. Just because of that it´s an interesting release, but features like outstanding and inventive musicianship and adventurous songwriting are also great assets that help "A Social Grace" be the seminal progressive metal album from the early 90s that it is. A 5 star (100%) rating is deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

Review by The Pessimist
3 stars I have no idea why this is in this sub-genre, but I'll roll with it anyway. I do like this album. It's not that technical, and it's not that heavy, but it has some kind of weirdness about it that I really kinda dig. Psychotic Waltz came to my attention through recommendation of one of my metalhead friends after I told him I like progressive metal. I bought this album in confidence and in trust of him, and I wasn't disappointed. Every song is consistent (one thing I love about prog metal is that is a very common factor amongst albums) and it is enjoyable from the very first track through till track 13 and although there are a few weak ones, they are not THAT weak and are excusable.

My personal favourites off of A Social Grace are the opener, Successor, Psychotic Waltz and Spiral Tower. And The Devil Cried... is probably the most technical off the album, and it has some great melodic passages and drumwork. The guitar sound on this track is exceptionally crunchy, which I love, and provides... well, the power, and this is a very powerful song, although not that heavy. Successor is a soaring song that really shows off the band's vocal work very well and the opener is quite hard to keep up with. I especially like the cross phasing work embedded in the production of the instruments. The track Psychotic Waltz is intriguing, as I'm guessing it is the song that christened the band (please correct me if I am wrong) and through this, I am also guessing it is a favourite of the band's. It is a ballad number, and a very sweet and powerful one at that. This is in fact the only track that I ever play nowadays, so the lasting effect of it is evident. Finally, Spiral Tower is probably the most surreal of the bunch. It is also one of the slowest and the speed can get a little frustrating for me at times, but I'm used to it now and compositionally it is one of the best I've heard. Very cohesive, doesn't get very up itself (yet still rather operatic) and the delivery is superb also.

The other tracks are very good metal, but as you can probably see, they don't quite match up to the four I've mentioned in my opinion. As I said before, I don't exactly agree with where it is placed on the Archives, but that's beyond my power so I'll just say this: if you are interested in prog metal but don't want all the bombast you will recieve with such bands as Dream Theater and Atheist, this is the album for you. If you are not but want something with more bite, either head for this album or maybe something out of the Heavy Prog section. If you are already into Prog Metal and don't have this album, then buy it and get ready for something a little apart from the norm. Not a masterpiece, and not excellent either, but a good addition nonetheless. If I could award it a 3.5 I would, but I can't so 3 stars it is.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Oh yes, this music is as weird as the album art.

I came to know Psychotic Waltz from their second album Into The Everflow and I didn't get to hear this debut until my favourite record store replenished their stock at the time of the 1996 release Faded. Even considering how astounded I was with all their other albums, this debut still blew me away. Actually I listened to it constantly and it has taken Faded, which I had bought only a few weeks before, years to overcome the blow.

A Social Grace is similar to the second album but it's heavier and faster. I'd say it is their most intense and overwhelming album, featuring crazed drumming, virtuoso bass, marvellous harmonic guitars and Buddy Lackey's most extreme, weird and aggressive singing ever.

This album is really long. In those days it was certainly not usual to have 65 minute CDs. Certainly for music that is as intricate and dense as this album, it is a lot to stomach. Luckily there is not one weak spot on the entire album, there is plenty of variety and more vocal hooks and memorable solos then a normal human mind can conceive.

Of course, this consistent quality makes it difficult to single out specific tracks. Let me try to single out just a few. After the excellent opener, Halo of Thorns could be called the first peak. This track is simply gorgeous, with its gentle build, sweeping chorus, thrilling twin leads and heavy finale. Another personal favourite would be I of The Storm, it's hard to imagine how Lackey could come up with these powerful vocal lines on top of those dead-heavy jagged guitars. One of the best metal songs ever for me and it pretty much blasts away all my favourite Judas Priest tracks.

A Psychotic Waltz is one of their classic tracks. I was lucky to attend one Psychotic Waltz gig in my life in 1994 (it was even in my home town Ghent!) and this was the only track they played from the debut. In fact this gig was supposed to be a double bill featuring Psychotic Waltz as opener for Threshold but Threshold didn't show up for one or other reason so we got 1.5 hours of pure Psychotic Waltz bliss instead. This track was the high point of the concert. Very emotive this one.

I try to be selective towards my 5-stars but I see no other option then to give another 5-star quote to Psychotic Waltz here, which brings them to an incredible score of 2 maximum ratings out of 4 albums. I see no other option. Onto The Everflow is sure their magnum opus, but they got their act together right from the start.

Review by EatThatPhonebook
3 stars After listening to the epic and amazing "Into The Everflow", I thought that this was going to be one thrilling album, full of unforgettable moments. I was wrong. In other words, a pretty big disappointment, I could barely listen to the whole thing (it is pretty long compared to ITE). Sure, the style is interesting, that shows how a prog metal band can have so many other influences, in this case especially trash metal, Anthrax most of all. Sometimes it sounds pretty eclectic, with many other influences, highlighted especially in their ballads.

All the songs in my opinion are pretty forgettable, maybe "..And The Devil Cried" is the best one, a really good trash metal piece. But that's all. Three stars.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It really took me a while to warm up to this release but once I did the magic simply took over.

And so we have finally come to one of the undeserving forgotten gems of progressive music that has undeniably a strong following in some circles but this treasure is hidden from the rest of the community. Psychotic Waltz is a band that never gets mentioned whenever I see lists of the great early progressive metal bands/albums of the late '80s/early '90s and it's really a mystery to me. I initially heard of the band here on ProgArchives but it took me a few years to get around to finally hearing the band's music and unfortunately even longer to appreciate it!

I can, based on my own experience, understand why this repertoire might take some time to warm up to but it's definitely worth all the ground work! A Social Grace was my first experience of the band's music and it wasn't an obvious hit from the get go, which might explain why I swiftly moved on to the rest of their discography while leaving this classic album behind. My main reasons for initially disregarding the album was based on it's length and the poor sound production that has plagued pretty much most of the early progressive metal releases of the early '90s. This is also why I rarely listen to well established progressive metal classics like Images And Words, Perfect Symmetry and The Warning. There is a certain sound to all these records that just comes off sounding very dated to my ears and unfortunately distracts me from enjoying the otherwise masterful compositions.

It was only after getting excessive knowledge of the rest of the band's discography that I finally gave A Social Grace another chance and the results were completely opposite of my initial reaction. The album has so much magnificent material hidden under the dated production that it ultimately rises above it's obvious limitations and becomes a genre defying experience!

...And the Devil Cried and Another Prophet Song kick the album into high gear from the get go but it's ultimately the album's second half, starting with the gorgeous ballad called I Remember, that really turns the whole experience up a notch for me. I Of The Storm and Only In A Dream are easily some of the band's most poignant compositions and it's certainly a pity that this type of raw energy would only last for one more release.

No matter how you twist and turn it there is really no denying that A Social Grace is an amazing debut album from a band that would manage to even go beyond their limitations by delivering an even better sophomore release!

***** star songs: Another Prophet Song (5:27) In This Place (4:10) I Remember (5:28) I Of The Storm (4:33) A Psychotic Waltz (6:11) Only In A Dream (3:36)

**** star songs: And The Devil Cried (5:43) Halo Of Thorns (5:31) Succesor (4:12) Spiral Tower (5:59) Strange (6:38) Nothing (5:44)

*** star songs: Sleeping Dogs (1:33)

Review by Warthur
4 stars Psychotic Waltz are a prog metal band who have a truly original sound, with psychedelic influences in keeping with their often-trippy artwork very much to the fore. Frontman Buddy Lackey also plays a mean flute in a style that is quite clearly influenced by Jethro Tull mastermind Ian Anderson (there's even a song dedicated to him on this disc!), and the juxtaposition of sometimes-thrashy often-proggy metal riffing and gentle flute creates an intoxicating mixture which both harks back to the glory days of 1970s prog rock whilst at the same time creating a combination of influences which is genuinely unique. An excellent debut which by all rights should have put the band in the first rank of the subgenre along with Dream Theater, Fates Warning and Pain of Salvation.
Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars After a brief period under the moniker Aslan which the band had to jettison because the name was already taken PSYCHOTIC WALTZ released their first demo in 1988 and then took a couple years to craft their full length debut release A SOCIAL GRACE. They released the album independently by coughing up their own dough and started their very own Sub Sonic Records. In Europe they scored a licensing deal with Rising Sun Productions and despite not finding an instant connection with a larger audience still managed to receive heaps of praise from the magazine reviews of the day. Metal Hammer and Rock Hard praised A SOCIAL GRACE as one of the best albums in a long time for its bold originality of combining Watchtower type technical precision and ferocity with U.S. power metal influences bringing early Queensr˙che to mind in the melodic vocal deliveries, Iron Maiden gallops and dynamics in their playing style and all coated in progressive thrash touches and one of the biggest surprises, the abnormal for metal Ian Anderson tribute in Buddy Lackey's singing style and occasional addition of flute. As a result of all these styles melded together, A SOCIAL GRACE is one of the most unique sounding progressive metal albums ever to emerge from ANY era much less the year 1990 when it was released. PSYCHOTIC WALTZ nailed it and delivered all the goods on this debut unlike other traditional metal acts treading down similar paths of increasing progressive and inventive elements. First and foremost all the musicians on board here were masters of their retrospective instruments complementing the greater band sound in perfect unison.

The album begins with the fast and furious duo thrash guitar assault of Brian McAlpin and Dan Rock delivering some of the most intense metal riffs that were rooted in keeping the overall sound melodic but they were also masters of syncopated effects that offered technical tricks and trinkets without steering the band's sound into abstract Watchtower territory. Through these superbly constructed tracks all performers shine in every arena. Buddy Lackey was indubitably in the same league with Queensr˙che's Geoff Tate and Crimson Glory's Midnight. His vocal range is actually more impressive IMHO as he not only wails in the upper registers but has serious control that can tackle several styles in sequence.

Jeff Lords' virtuosic bass playing skills are noteworthy especially noticeable as the driving force behind the instantly addictive frenzy of "Spiral Tower" which provides a super strong backbone that allows the band to spiral off in various directions around him like a tornado filled with razor blades and nails. Dana Burnell is yet another master of his craft providing some of the most impressive drum abuse skills of the era not only keeping up with the relentless assault of changing rhythms and song structure meanderings but provides creative fills and brilliant orgies of percussion where the snares, toms and cymbals collude to add yet another intoxicating layer of the musical style on board. While the main focus of A SOCIAL GRACE is heavy rockin' metal segments that infuse an instantly melodic hooked that is laced with progressive touches to steer the listener into WTF territory, there are a few surprises that seem like they dropped in from another universe.

The first surprise is the "ballad" of the album "I Remember." This is a melodic little number that takes too many liberties channeling Ian Anderson from 1969. While it's obvious from the very first track that Buddy Lackey's vocal phrasings are right out of the Jethro Tull playbook, they somehow work well as he adapts them to the heavy metal styles on board. This track is where he leaves the realms of "influence" and enters the unfortunate situation of plagiarism. I dare anyone to listen to this song back to back with "We Used To Know" from Jethro Tull's 1969 album "Stand Up" and tell me this isn't the exact same song at least in the main melodic development of the vocals. This little faux pas is the one blemish for me on an otherwise perfect album. It's not that it's not performed impeccably, because the song is quite a beautiful interpretation and if credit was given as a JT song then i'd be cool but unfortunately Lackey claims it as his own. Luckily the Tull interplay remains within the realms of "influence" throughout the rest of the album where it works quite well. Another strange anomaly is the following "Sleeping Dogs" which is a strange electronic swirling of synthesized sounds. I'm not sure if it's meant to be an outro or an intro or just a strange little head scratcher but also reminds me how future bands like Unexpect would incorporate these kinds of things into their sound.

Overall this is an excellent progressive metal album that flows perfectly from beginning to end, crosses all the t's and dots all the i's for a totally satisfying experience. The metal aspects take the best of what the 80s had to offer by mixing melodies with technical prowess while delivering thoughtful lyrics, excellent band interactions and total control of tempo changes, time signature developments and even dynamics pacing. If it weren't for "I Remember" which is too much of a Jethro Tull ripoff despite sounding really well done, i would give this 5 stars, but because this is a prominent peccadillo in my world i can't award it with a perfect rating, however this is a highly recommended album release that will please any adventurous metal heads who like a lot of nice twists and turns in their music without sacrificing the melodic aspects that made 80s metal so pleasing in the first place.

Latest members reviews

3 stars A Madman grabs an instrument and starts playing... Psychotic Waltz's debut was definitely path breaking in the realm of metal music. Striking with a pure force of Devon Graves' incredible voice merged into a genius combination of psychedelia and thrash metal. A fairly unique sound was develop ... (read more)

Report this review (#2579318) | Posted by Pestilence | Friday, July 16, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A SOCIAL GRACE THAT CERTAINLY IS NOT A SOCIAL DISGRACE.  Like INTO THE EVERFLOW, A SOCIAL GRACE took me a few listens to fully appreciate and understand the type of progressive metal that PSYCHOTIC WALTZ bring to the fold. I am delighted to say that after countless listens of A SOCIAL GRACE, that ... (read more)

Report this review (#965581) | Posted by progbethyname | Monday, May 27, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Let me take you back in 1990 when Guns and Roses were the hottest name in Metal,when Nirvana would prepare their magnum opus 'Nevermind' which i don't like at all,when Fates Warning was the biggest prog metal name alongside with Queensryche,when no one believed that DT would become the prog me ... (read more)

Report this review (#562677) | Posted by ppl | Saturday, November 5, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Almost anybody gave the highest possible rating to the debut record of "Psychotic Waltz" and that's why I got intrigued by the band. As a fan of progressive rock and metal music I expected something outstanding here. In fact, the band really varies from one style to the other and proves their excell ... (read more)

Report this review (#499350) | Posted by kluseba | Sunday, August 7, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Jethro Tull does Death... Or not. This is Psychotic Waltz's debut album, A Social Grace. IT features many facets of complex and biting metal, with a more intellectual flair. These are certainly competent musicians, and the lead vocalist Buckey Lackey is a sheer highlight with his high pitche ... (read more)

Report this review (#219700) | Posted by Alitare | Wednesday, June 3, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars When I was living in El Cajon, CA, right next to an obscure looking record shop called Blumeanie Records, I never knew that it's a place where I could find the most progressive music of the day. You know who owned this shop? It was Norm Leggio, the drummer from Psychotic Waltz. I met him, I talk ... (read more)

Report this review (#132350) | Posted by andympick | Wednesday, August 8, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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" ... (read more)

Report this review (#103550) | Posted by | Monday, December 18, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars An absolute masterpiece. One of the best debuts in metal. This is pulversing from start to finish with top notch musicianship. When I first heard this I didn't know what to think, it was so different to anything else I had heard in prog metal. They have now become one of may all time favourite ... (read more)

Report this review (#97947) | Posted by Hrvat | Thursday, November 9, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Ok, let me get this straight.. This album is the best in progressive metal history and one of the best albums in history of music in general. It has this atmosphere which can be described as psychotic paranoia. The album starts with ...And The Devil Cried which is actually progressive metal at it ... (read more)

Report this review (#82071) | Posted by | Tuesday, June 27, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars One of my favorite all time bands period. I've listened to this album so many times and it neve gets boring. Buddy Lackey is one of the greatest vocalists these ears have ever heard, it's a shame he quit the band and started the less interesting Dead Soul Tribe. It has a great combination of c ... (read more)

Report this review (#76134) | Posted by slowfire85 | Monday, April 24, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars "A Social Grace" is the debut album of a to this time very unknown band. The production is dry and is partly poorly conceived, but already genius and a perspective to their later releases and the brilliance of the band. Very original is the vocalist, Buddy Lackey, playing the flute and the keyb ... (read more)

Report this review (#64397) | Posted by W.Chuck | Thursday, January 12, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Psychotic Waltz was and is a myth. This record forever will be a special observation by a band, which created a kind of music that couldn't be played from typical human beeings. When I listen to "songs" like ...and the devil cried, another prophet song, a psychotic waltz or nothing, I can dive ... (read more)

Report this review (#37807) | Posted by | Monday, June 27, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Blows all away!!!!!!!! Oh man, what can I say?!?!?!?! I bought this record on eBay because of the high ratings on this web page and I have no words! I never heard something which I could compare with this music from that band, which doen't exist anymore. What the hell, I never heard anything of th ... (read more)

Report this review (#35430) | Posted by | Monday, June 6, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Sure, this is the best album in Lackey's carreer. I saw this band, back in '95 in a small pub in Gent (Belgium). It was amazing ! This was one of the best gigs I've ever seen ! Metal Blade Records re-released all their albums, including some extra stuff. For those who aren't familiar with the b ... (read more)

Report this review (#24727) | Posted by | Sunday, February 20, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars While other bands focused on constructed their music on a more complex basis, Psychotic Waltz seemed like smoking pot and getting the ideas out of their heads. More complex than most progressive bands probably, they have managed to get an amazing atmosphere combined with a strange song constru ... (read more)

Report this review (#24726) | Posted by V0lcaN0 | Wednesday, January 19, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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