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Psychotic Waltz - The God-Shaped Void CD (album) cover

THE GOD-SHAPED VOID

Psychotic Waltz

 

Progressive Metal

3.66 | 71 ratings

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UMUR
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "The God-Shaped Void" is the 5th full-length studio album by US, San Diego based progressive metal act Psychotic Waltz. The album was released through InsideOut Music in February 2020. Psychotic Waltz folded after touring in support of "Bleeding" from 1996, as a consequence of a law suit from an actress who appearing in the promotional video for the track "Faded" who said she was exposed to a light during the shooting of the video which caused partial blindness. Psychotic Waltz reunited in 2010 to play some shows, and slowly the idea to record a new album began. Rumours of the writing and recording of the album have circulated for years, but now "The God-Shaped Void" is finally here.

Psychotic Waltz were never a major player on the progressive metal scene and didnīt accomplish much commercial succes in their early- mid 90s heyday, but they had a strong underground following (especially in Europe), which were quite dedicated fans (including myself). Psychotic Waltz stuck out because of their psychadelic tinged take on the progressive metal genre and their relatively original music style, which initially was rooted in US power metal and traditional heavy metal acts like Fates Warning, Queensrĸche, and Iron Maiden, but also incorporated the more complex structures and technical playing of artists like Watchtower and Realm. Their love for 70s progressive rock and hard rock/heavy metal was also audible on the albums from their original run.

"The God-Shaped Void" is the sound of Psychotic Waltz, but in a sligthly more mature and formulaic version. Heavy riffs, mid-paced tempos and grooves, harmony leads and blistering solos, and Devon Graves (yeah thatīs the one who used to be called Buddy Lackey) distinct sounding voice on top. Atmospheric keyboards are also a big part of the soundscape (and the flute is used on "Pull the String" and "Demystified" ). In other words itīs a natural progression from the sound on "Bleeding (1996)", but featuring a darker and heavier production job, closer to the sound found on "Mosquito (1994)". Using the word formulaic above pertains to the song structures more than the compositional details, as most tracks on "The God-Shaped Void" are built over the tried and true vers/chorus skeleton. Again this is no surprise given the direction the band were heading in before their untimely break-up. So donīt expect this to sound much like the first two albums by Psychotic Waltz.

While all tracks are well written, and donīt take more than a few spins to be able to hum along to, I miss the anarchistic songwriting of the first two albums, and the high pitched ornamented vocal melodies, that characterized those two albums (listen to the incredibly dull vers melody on "Pull the String" and then think back on some of the technically crazy vocal melodies on the old albums. Thereīs really no competition is there?), but then again I missed those elements on "Mosquito (1994)" and "Bleeding (1996)" too, so Iīm probably just one of those annoying old-school fans, who thinks everything was better in the old days...

...well I also miss changes in pace and being surprised by something on "The God-Shaped Void". Donīt get me wrong, this is a quality release on almost every measurable parameter (professional sound production, high level musical performances, solid songwriting: check, check, check) and sometimes the heavy riffs and the epic atmospheres ignite excitement in me (take a listen to the intro or the middle section to "While The Spiders Spin" for some truly epic moments, or listen to the closing track "In the Silence"), but overall itīs all a little too safe and predictable. Iīm a little conflicted here, but a 3.5 (70%) rating isnīt all wrong.

(Review originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

UMUR | 3/5 |

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