Album Reviews

Psychotic Waltz – A Social Grace

Psychotic Waltz. Who? Right.Psychotic Waltz (formed in El Cajon, California in 1986) was one of the first bands to combine beautiful dual guitar melodies with intricate, progressive rhythms to form a unique sound. Consisting of drummer Norm Leggio, bassist Ward Evans, guitarists Brian Mc Alpine and Dan Rock and fronted by enigmatic vocalist Buddy Lackey (now wishes to be called Devon Graves) 😉 this band of youngsters unleashed their sprawling, hard rocking debut album onto the unsuspecting world in an era where the Internet had yet to become common ground. This is probably the reason why this band isn’t as well known as the other big ‘progressive’ metal bands up there.

A Social Grace consists of 13 wildly diverse tracks, starting off with the heavy progressive fast paced ‘And the devil cried’ only to be immediately followed by ‘Halo of thorns’, which starts off as a haunting ballad, but ending in a double guitar operatic frenzy. This already should give you an idea how diverse this album truly is. Because having recovered from this double whammy, the third track ‘Another prophet song’ follows with some of the greatest melodies and vocal harmonies ever recorded. The atmosphere on this track is so thick you could cut it with a knife.

With Successor and In this place two heavy progressive rockers follow only to be followed by the stunning ‘I remember’ an acoustically guitar based ballad with….flute! The surprises never end when you let this great song about forgotten lives lost in battle leaves you gasping for breath. And we’re only half way… after an experimental keyboard interlude ‘Sleeping dogs’ the greatness continues with ‘I of the storm’, a hard rocking cruncher of a song. After that it’s time for another breathtaking song: ‘A Psychotic Waltz’. Words almost fail to describe this one. It’s a mini-opera, starting off as a piano driven waltz, with Buddy’s/Devon’s hauntingly beautiful voice singing over it. The song slowly progresses into an operatic finale with fantastic vocal choruses and great soloing by both guitarists. When you think you can’t stand anymore greatness, here comes ‘Only in a dream’. This is a somewhat more ‘simple’ song, driven by double bass drums and heavy riffing guitars.

Then it’s time for the true epic among this album of epics (in fact, it’s one giant epic overall): ‘Spiral tower’. This song (about the building of a ‘Bablylonian tower’, obviously inspired by Rainbow’s Stargazer) is based on a fantastic guitar/bass riff and builds and builds and builds….it’s only with the final two tracks of the album that there is some let off, with ‘Strange’ and ‘Nothing’, both great progressive metal songs in their own right but on their own a little lacking after all that’s come before.

Review By – Joop Boom 

Ward Evans – Bass, Tambourine
Norm Leggio – Drums, Percussion
Brian McAlpin – Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar
Dan Rock – Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Piano, Vibraslap
Buddy Lackey – Vocals, Flute, Piano, Keyboards, Acoustic Guitar

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