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The God-Shaped Void


Artist: Psychotic Waltz
Label: Inside Out Music
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 14 February 2020

Inside Out Music releases The God-Shaped Void, by California-based Progressive Metal band Psychotic Waltz. The band incorporates Dan Rock on guitars and keyboards, Brian McAlpin on guitars and keyboards, Ward Evans on bass, Norm Leggio on drums, and Devon Graves on vocals, flute and keyboard. The group started life as Aslan in the 1980s. Their first three albums under the name Psychotic Waltz (A Social Grace – 1990, Into the Everflow – 1992, and Mosquito – 1994) made quite an impact with early fans, but the band parted in 1997. Now, 23 years later, they are back with a new album – available on Ltd Mediabook CD, Jewel Case CD, 2 x LP + CD, and Digital Album...

'Devils and Angels' introduces us to the album with angelic sounds and dark rumblings, which have an Australian Outback feel. The song itself has mid-paced bass and guitar riff and clean vocals. There are some unusual changes to keep you interested. It has subdued verses and a pleasant melody for a chorus. Electronic vocals are incorporated mid-point. Stranded has a grand anthem-like opening, and an unusual beat and structure which doesn’t conform to commonly put-together material. Heavy but moderate is the name of the game here. 'Back to Black' has a heavy and melodic opening. It also has lighter moments, with airy keyboards in the background. Essentially though, this has energetic weight, a nice guitar solo and real feeling within the chorus vocals. There are some great pieces of music in 'All the Bad Men'. The only reservation I have is that they’re all at the same mid-tempo pace. I can hear elements of the band Ten in this one, but without the variety of pace and time signatures.

'The Fallen' is an acoustic song somewhat in the style of Pink Floyd. A nice ballad which plays with vocal styles and includes some fitting guitar. It’s a shame about some of the dodgy lyrics. 'While the Spiders Spin' has a nice acoustic introduction to bring back the moderate heaviness. There are hints of other musical influences here – in particular, Queensrÿche’s Operation: Mindcrime. I do like the reverb setting guitar break. A chugging riff drags us straight into 'Pull the String', in which the vocals follow precisely along with the chords (“Angels carry guns.”). Pan pipes pop up and make for a nice surprise, and this directs us into a slightly faster galloping melody and, in contrast, slower vocals. 'Demystified' is another attempt at Pink Floyd; this time with obvious Jethro Tull influences. Actually, this is quite a well-structured song comprised of three interlinked sections. This is one of the better tracks on offer here. A nice acoustic outro, too.

'Sisters of the Dawn' has a cosmic, science fiction feel to it, with clipped vocals for the verses. This is quite refreshing for something a little different. Electronica is added to the fuzz-tinged guitars, which then produce a short, clean solo. 'In the Silence' rounds things up. Reverb and artificial atmosphere abound in this track but, aside from the guitar break, it proves to be the weakest song of the bunch. I’m not a huge fan of traditional Progressive Rock with its twiddling and meandering journeys (although there are a few exceptions); however, this is just heavy and unusual enough to be of interest. In truth, I enjoyed this album a lot more than I thought I would. You can hear the hard work of structure and planning that has gone into this long-awaited album. However, because of the constant mid-tempo backdrop to this vision, I can’t see myself replaying this many times before I grow tired of the format. That’s a shame, because this is a very solid release and could have been even better by mixing-up the balance of pace a little. Prog Rock fans take note: this is for you.


Ty Power

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