PSYCHOTIC WALTZ - The God-Shaped Void

Psychotic Waltz - The God-Shaped Void

10 songs
52:54 minutes
***** ****
InsideOut

Bandpage

There are a few bands for everyone that had a formative experience on oneís budding musical tastes. Psychotic Waltz were one of those for me. Their debut album A Social Grace from 1990 had a huge impact on me during my late teenage years. Their brand of progressive metal somehow bridged the gap between the more technical genres of Watchtower and Mekong Delta, and the more melodic kind that was made popular by Dream Theater. The American quintetís follow-up Into The Everflow offered some more great prog metal, before the band turned to a more alternative metal sound with Mosquito and Bleeding, and then the band fell apart in 1997. Vocalist Buddy Lackey released a solo album in the mid-Nineties, and then relocated to Austria and rebranded himself as Devon Graves and released five quite good albums with Deadsoul Tribe in the first decade of the new millennium. In 2010 he tried his luck with yet another band, The Shadow Theory, but they one released one album. In 2011, Psychotic Waltz got back together, and I even got to see them once, which was one of the happiest days of my life. Since then they have been together, and started working on their comeback album seven years ago.

Many reunions can become disappointments, but it is obvious when listening to The God-Shaped Void that Psychotic Waltz, who are performing in their original line-up, donít want this to be just a late effort of no value. And yet, my first few times listening to the new songs left me somewhat clueless. The band is not as progressive / technical anymore as on the first two albums, but they do sound more focused than on their last two albums. I must also have helped that they hired producer Jens Bogren (Leprous, Haken) to give them a more updated sound that fits the times we are living in.

The album starts with Devils And Angels, a six and a half minute long track that begins with an intro, before surprising with a rather doomy guitar sound, followed by chugging guitar riffs and a Devon Graves whose voice has turned to lower registers over the years, not really astonishing as the musicians must all be in their fifties by now. The catchy chorus not only invites to sing along, but also proves that the higher notes are still possible for this gifted vocalist. The next three tracks are shorter, and remind structurally of the bandís later albums, but the songwriting is more mature, with Graves delivering memorable choruses also on these more concise pieces. The remaining material sees the band indulging themselves with longer structures, and itís here where you will find their best material. The Fallen starts as a ballad, reminding a little on their Łber-ballad I Remember from their debut. While The Spiders Spin is a more complex track that may not have the intricate instrumentation from their early material, but still great guitar work from the tandem consisting of Brian McAlpin and Dan Rock and a totally unforeseeable structure. Pull The String is more straightforward with a really dark sounding chorus. The same goes for Demystified that shows how much work the band has put into songs that are memorable and demanding at the same time. My personal favourite is Sisters Of The Dawn that really got under my skin, and at nearly seven minutes the longest song on the album.

At first I though Iíd give The God-Shaped Void only six or seven points, but repeated listening convinced me otherwise. It is not A Social Grace, but I would put it on the same level as Into The Everflow. You have to give it some time, itís not one of those overly accessible albums that reveal everything the first time around. But once youíre hooked, there is no going back. Itís an album from a band the used to released albums in a time when people were still willing to spend a lot of time with a newly acquired record. Welcome back, Psychotic Waltz, and I hope that you will stay with us for a couple more years.

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