The first seconds of the introduction of “Devil And Angels” look like a small abyss, an abyss of strange colors, and sounds, an abyss that lasts for 24 years and includes the short, long searches of each of us for musical treasures, a little maze, a palpation, a breath hold for each discovery, a changing course, with Waltz absent however. And you know this absence, you go along with it. That’s how absences are, you have to learn the logic of adjustment and move on, isn’t that what they say?
You acknowledge the maze, you are a part of it, you are in this small indefinable vortex which is imprinted by a few notes on the keys only for a little while. And suddenly… Suddenly you hear a familiar sound from the background. Coming somewhat from afar, from an indefinable point in the distance: The flute.
When I first heard the “Devils and Angels” song -which was also the first song the band offered as a single- I was sure it would be the album’s opening track, precisely because of this welcome that audibly symbolizes the before and places you in the now and after. I wasn’t wrong.
The flute melody along with the percussion leads to one of the most pompous, robust and liberating opening themes that Psychotic have ever written. “We Are Here”: a clear statement with the vintage gravity of guitar and keys and the flute’s charm still piercing in between. They will slowly take you with them though. Everything is well thought out; they don’t want to shock you. The sweet hypnotic vocal melodies and the according interpretation of the couplet are reassuring, the first contrast to the almost sterile riff which is showing its teeth, has already been given to you for listening. Warmth.
The chorus here is a small repetitive swirl with the vocal melody sealing not only the part but the entire track. The logic of the harmonious coexistence with the keys theme comes to the front. With the bridge and acoustic part to follow gradually, Devon Graves makes clear once and for all that he has taken the place of Buddy Lackey in this new Waltz universe, keeping the key links of his Deadsoul Tribe past. No, I’m not going to mention Shadow Theory as a basic audible connection or influence as their stigma refers to much earlier Psychotic material, while this album is essentially a “Bleeding” era marriage to the Deadsoul Tribe audible consignment.
Yes it is clearly evident that the band is taking the skein right from where it left off with the last note of “Bleeding”. The faster we do as listeners, our fine tuning with the above event, the faster we will enjoy the album. And I’m referring mainly to the first hearings of the total or at least the singles where the expectations are intense for some teleportation in the -for instance- first “Social Grace” period or the surrealism of “Mosquito” or let anyone use which ever Psychotic period they want. The paper on the rebooting diary writes “Bleeding”. And if you think I’m writing nonsense all this time, listen to “Stranded” with its spreading across space main theme, with Norm literally lifting the piece on his back -listen to the first bridge somewhere in the middle- and with that amazing chorus seducing you, either individually or as a ripple, right after the instant climax at the end of each couplet.
“Back To Black” continues in a similar pattern, however, carrying a gradually increasing charge over its almost dry 70s riffing, with the lead parts on the guitars -and melodic vocal outbursts- playing a leading role, giving the track character. There are at least three tracks on the album that will remind you of how crucial the Sabbath of the 70s were to Waltz, in a state of complete assimilation and style. Every time I listen to a heavy, dry, out-of-this-world Psychotic riff and wait for this familiar coloring with melodies -from voice, keys, or guitars- my mind can’t avoid travelling at least by association to the first Black Sabbath decade. Of course I have to say here that the 70s element -beyond Sabbath- can be discovered by the listener in several parts in the album. “All The Bad Men” also follows similar 70s paths. But here the balance leans more towards the “Bleeding” mirroring. Hidden tensions, gradual climax, something like a catharsis. Yes, with notes.
And the acoustic start to “Fallen” comes and while during the first notes you think you’re guessing where it will lead you, the track is nodding at you in a playful way and exactly upon the change before the vocals come in it whispers “come with me”… I wake into a place inside your mind and I find a dark shade of light… A narrative unfolding endowed with so many tunes and alternations… Talent, intelligence, careful composition… The length of this part is only a few minutes, before the gradual outbreak begins. The chainsaw-crescendo is a crystal clear “Bleeding” match -listen to the backs of the keys- A trademark piece.
”While The Spiders Spin” is a hymn to today’s Psychotic Waltz songwriting. I’ll start with the lead parts on the guitars and the solos that spin their own web by wrapping the composition. The 24 years were well worth the wait that we would be hearing again such a harmonious coexistence of Dan Rock and Brian McAlpin. The sweet catastrophic melody in the acoustic interlude opens the door to one of the most complete tracks on the album.
“Pull The String” is the third track on the album where we come across the clarity of the 70s -Black Sabbath- influences mainly on the riffing which I have to point out is given through a Psychotic approach. Its strong point, of course, is the lead part with the flute and the pompous outburst that comes immediately after. There is plenty of room for gray tones in the track. Listen closely.
I consider “Demystified” that follows to be the most complete moment of the album. An imprint of a song holding the band’s message tightly in hand. Narrative lyricism in its absolute incarnation. All Waltz virtues are concentrated in one composition, in a moving way. The acoustic spinning, Devon either in interpretive purification attempts –listen to the chorus- or singing stories with a unique assurance -listen to the couplets-, the flute either sweetening the sound crevices, or coming to the front and those sprawled out “Bleeding” outbursts that you were hearing puzzled when you were 16, and now you know they function as conscious music destinations. A song of redemption, through the realization of the truth: Demystified, we are all Demystified…
In the mediabook edition of the album there is the bonus track “Season Of The Swarm”, one of the easiest to digest tracks of the album and I write this with a positive sign. Warm Psychotic themes in a track that flows revealing melodically its potentials.
“Sisters Of The Dawn” balancing somewhere between psychosis, nostalgia and melancholy is one of the most special moments of the record. Evans’ bass builds great walls here -listen carefully how the bass “imprints” on the solo spot-. The guitars on the chorus enchant you, and so does the vocal melody that accompanies them.
The epilogue belongs to “In The Silence”. Warm tunes, 70s orientation -especially in the lead guitars-, classic 1996 Psychotic guitar themes, amazing voice melodies and a gorgeous acoustic farewell that leaves you on the sidelines, puts you back into the maze where it found you on the beginning -listen closely and hear the sounds wrapping the last seconds from far away-…
Psychotic Waltz of 2020 write amazing songs based on art with the right doses of techniques, bringing forward musicality, clarity and true essence.
Psychotic Waltz of 2020 manage to move and set starting points. Starting points for themselves as creators who look at this work of theirs as the first letter on a new page. But also starting points for listeners – receivers. I am truly jealous of those who will discover them through this album. Because we need such albums this day and time. But even the older listeners will just realize once again the uniqueness of Psychotic Waltz through the beginning (starting point) in search for the sound pages of a new fifth chapter.
The cover of Travis Smith catches my eye. Some of the lyrics that touched me I’ve scattered in the article. I press play again. Let’s go again from the start. Nothing has changed and nothing is the same…
But there is always the longing to discover Truth through music. Behind closed doors, switched off lights and open souls. If you have this craving this record concerns you immediately…