Review Summary: An amazingly underrated prog metal masterpiece - easily as good as anything released by Opeth or Dream Theater.4 of 4 thought this review was well written
Psychotic Waltz is probably the most underrated (metal) band ever, and ‘Into the Everflow’ their best album.
The music is mainly complex prog metal, but psychedelic influences which they build on in their next album, ‘Mosquito’, are also present (especially evident in their lyrics: ‘I’m a tripper in a space out jam/Flying in a circus of a freakshow band’). Comparisons to other bands are quite difficult to make though as they sound little like their prog metal peers. They do have a certain (slight) similarity to older Black Sabbath however, but mainly because of the gloomy sound throughout the album, not really the music itself. Jethro Tull have also been named as a major influence by the band, but this is more noticeable in the flute-led songs from their other albums that are absent here.
For metal, while incredibly rich in atmosphere, it is quite mellow. The guitar tone often has a certain dream-like quality to it and memorable melodies are focused on instead of thrashy riffs or mindless shredding. That’s not to say that the riffs here aren’t any good; they’re all marvellously creative and complex and there are plenty of head banging moments, but sometimes it’s great just to listen to it with your eyes closed and lose yourself in it’s atmosphere. The heavier songs like ‘Out of Mind’ are actually the weaker parts of the album.
The key to success in the album is the mix between the metal sections and genuinely beautiful lighter parts. While this style may have become a bit of a cliché now with bands like Opeth switching between light and heavy every five seconds, I’ve never heard it being done as well as it is in ‘Into the Everflow’ before, and this was way back in ‘92. It can switch straight between a heavy riff to a piano melody in seconds but sound completely smooth and natural while doing it, so it doesn’t sound odd at all.
Psychotic Waltz found a singer easily capable of singing the range needed to cope with the changing dynamics in Buddy Lackey, who switches from a high pitched shriek to mellow singing as effortlessly as the music seems to change, not unlike Ian Gillian in Deep Purple’s classic ‘Child In Time’. Lackey is also a brilliant lyricist. His cryptic and surreal lyrics fit the music perfectly and are far more impressive than average metal lyrics. He would later say, "Everything I write has a message, an approach to poetry, It’s the major function of poetry not to provide answers, but to raise questions - to be thought provoking and to create space for individual interpretations."
Another reason the album is great is Norm Leggio’s fantastic drumming. The drumming is mixed quite loud and is slow and heavy, comparable to Bill Ward’s work for Black Sabbath, which contributes to the similarities between the bands. In ‘Butterfly’ he even creates some great tribal-style drumming. The other musicians are all hugely talented too, it’s amazing that none of them are more well known.
‘Ashes’, a mellow synth-led track with some great melodies opens up the album perfectly, but the highlight of the album is the epic and eerie title track, which starts of very slowly but builds and builds until it comes to an incredible climax. The song really shows the amazing talent of all of the individual band members and sounds incredible whatever instrument you focus on, especially the amazing duel-guitar work in it.
Other highlights are ‘Little People’ for showing Waltz at their most metal, with a great riff running through the song, and the more complex ‘Freakshow’ for the switching between heavy/mellow.
The album ends with a cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘Disturbing the Priest’, which is actually better than the original. Though it is one of Sabbath’s worst songs, so that’s perhaps not as impressive as it sounds…
Unfortunately the complexity of the album and band make it quite inaccessible to most people, but the huge obscurity of Psychotic Waltz (mostly due to problems with record labels) is completely ridiculous.