PSYCHOTIC WALTZ
"The God-Shaped Void"

(InsideOut)

01. Devils and Angels
02. Stranded
03. Back to Black
04. All the Bad Men
05. The Fallen
06. While the Spiders
07. Pull the String
08. Demystified
09. Seasons of the Swarm
10. Sisters of the Dawn
11. In the Silence

RATING: 9/10

If you have recently been disturbed by the distant sound of whimpering, it was probably just a bunch of middle-aged prog metal fans becoming mildly hysterical about the prospect of a new PSYCHOTIC WALTZ album. And rightly so. Because while there were undoubtedly bigger and more widely celebrated bands to emerge from prog metal's first decade, connoisseurs of this stuff know that nothing much beats the first two albums these Californians made back in the early '90s: "A Social Grace" (1990) and "Into the Everflow" (1992). In fact, their third and fourth albums were killer, too. So yeah, the arrival of "The God-Shaped Void" is definitely cause for celebration, and the party will get even more raucous when patient fans realize that the first PSYCHOTIC WALTZ album in 24 years is every bit as good as its revered predecessors (and maybe even slightly better).

It's particularly sweet that "The God-Shaped Void" arrives at a time when progressive metal has a bigger audience than ever before. PSYCHOTIC WALTZ were always too idiosyncratic and unpredictable to slot neatly into the same genre pigeonhole as DREAM THEATER or FATES WARNING, and while there is plenty of evidence here that the band's sound has matured and evolved, this is still the same wickedly eccentric take on artful metal that was always so thrillingly hard to pin down. Devon Graves's unmistakable voice also sets the band apart, in this or any other decade, and his occasional forays into flute playing are more sublime than ever. But what really matters on this long-awaited comeback is the songs, and "The God-Shaped Void" is bursting at the seams with great ones.

Opener "Devils and Angels" is a dramatic, six-minute sprawl, with a monstrous chorus and a bubbling, psychedelic undertow: Graves sounds in his element, reveling in his reunited comrades' adventurousness, but still delivering a powerful, commanding vocal as riffs and symphonic crescendos erupt around him. "All the Bad Men" is a succinct prog metal anthem, like QUEENSRĊ¸CHE in their late '80s pomp or NEVERMORE in goth-ballad mode, but with plenty of the underlying oddness that is a PSYCHOTIC WALTZ trademark. Guitarists Dan Rock and Brian McAlpin have snapped back into the same fizzing chemistry that made early classics like "Halo of Thorns" and "Nothing" so exhilarating back in the day, but these new songs are more accessible and yet far darker than anything the band released first time around. From a stately drift into twinkly-eyed prog territory for "Demystified" to the lurching, doomy and intermittently VOIVOD-like "Sisters of The Dawn", this whole record represents the triumphant rekindling of a once blazing creative relationship. On these stunning songs, all played with the kind of swing and soul that prog metal isn't really supposed to have, PSYCHOTIC WALTZ are blazing again. That's how you do a comeback.

COMMENTS

To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@)gmail.com with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).