Psychotic Waltz
A Social Grace


4.5
superb

Review

by username345 USER (52 Reviews)
June 19th, 2008 | 85 replies


Release Date: 1990 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Nearly flawless.

A Social Grace is Psychotic Waltz’s first and most popular album. Released independently and with hardly any promotion it predictably sank like a stone upon release, despite some very good reviews. However, it has since got a lot of underground attention and gained a lot of popularity (I’m always happy to see it rated as 12th best album of 1990 on rateyourmusic.com… an amazing achievement for such an underrated band).

Psychotic Waltz’s style is unique to say the least, and has been called ‘hippie metal’ by some fans because of the psychedelic influences that they would build on in later albums. Fates Warning’s ‘Awaken the Guardian’ is the best comparison that could be made, but even then it is not that similar. Apart from that, there is little they can be compared with except perhaps Black Sabbath and occasional Jethro Tull influences.

While their later albums would be more mellow and ‘spacey’, focusing more on atmosphere, ‘A Social Grace’ has a rougher, more thrashy sound to it. Guitarists Brian McAlpin and Dan Rock managed to create some incredible riffs that while very complex and unorthodox remain catchy. While technical music is usually seen as ‘emotionless’, Psychotic Waltz combine their technical skills with amazing songwriting, creating some fantastic melodies that interweave between the metal sections. Sometimes the song will switch between a vicious riff to a stunning acoustic melody completely suddenly, but due to the strong songwriting talent of the band it never sounds at all out of place or disjointed.

This is the biggest strength of early Psychotic Waltz, the mix of amazing technicality and genuinely beautiful mellower sections. The sudden changes and intricate song structures keep the album interesting and unpredictable throughout. As well as the metal sections, there’s a great Jethro Tull-inspired ballad, ‘I Remember’, complete with an incredible flute solo, a synth-led atmospheric track, ‘Sleeping Dogs’ which shows the beginnings of the atmospheric style they would build on in later albums and even a piano on the epic ‘A Psychotic Waltz’. Acoustic guitars also often make appearances throughout the album.

The musicianship of all the members shines on this album. The guitarists are easily able to play the complex arrangements completely accurately, Norm Leggio’s drumming is equally as unpredictable as the music; he is able to cope with the constantly changing styles. Even the bass is spectacular, especially on ‘Spiral Tower’, which is based on one monstrous bass-line.

The singing could put some people off, as Buddy Lackey has a very unique, often quite high-pitched voice. However, it is one of the most impressive thing, if not the most impressive things about this album. Lackey is easily one of metal’s best vocalists, and much of his very best singing is done on this album. His singing range is absolutely incredible, switching from ghostly ethereal wails during the mellow sections to much rougher almost manic shouting in the heavier parts, and everything in between. His lyrics are also much better than those of most metal bands, and are always cryptic and surreal, fitting the music perfectly.

It’s truly tragic that Psychotic Waltz will never play together again, it’s even more tragic that WillieFisterbut has seen them live and I haven’t, but the biggest tragedy is that so many metal fans will never hear such a flawless metal album.



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user ratings (124)
Chart.
4.4
superb

Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
June 19th 2008


16051 Comments


Great review, you're almost done with their discography ;) This is my least favorite album of theirs just because of the hollow production.

username345
June 19th 2008


594 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, that put me off at the beginning but it grew on me. A lot.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
February 9th 2010


6208 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The music compensates more than adequately for the mediocre production.

Digging: Seduced (AT) - The Proclamation

TriefeyeVanPoz
February 21st 2010


5 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

One of the most underrated bands.

scissorlocked
June 7th 2010


3511 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

sweet hell, this is prog

they are what Dream Theater couldn't be

Digging: Traumprinz - All The Things

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
July 10th 2010


6208 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

...And the Devil Cried:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0R_d9-ZmO68


Halo Of Thorns:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooZsJ5OU7FY


Another Prophet Song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3qeI--9F6U


Successor:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5K2Y0hB2GJA


In This Place:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcK6tCt18I8


I Remember:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5D9ZbbzmbU


Sleeping Dogs:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jr3fGjfP-Is&feature=related


I Of The Storm:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jtjuZpI0xs&feature=related


A Psychotic Waltz:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpTzekgH9UM&feature=related


Only In A Dream:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4deXqtohgfQ


Spiral Tower:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNBSC8xboXU&feature=related


Strange:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hit-nbCa2y0&feature=related


Nothing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N76BQKxR798&feature=related


All links were active at the day this post got written - July the 10th, 2010.

Willie
Moderator
July 10th 2010


16051 Comments


Good idea. Too bad it probably won't be used. Listening to old Fates Warning right now.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
July 10th 2010


6208 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

How old?

Before No exit or after?

Willie
Moderator
July 10th 2010


16051 Comments


Before. The Spectre Within.

KILL
November 7th 2010


71965 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

awesome album vocals rule so much and good review too

Digging: Exodus - Blood In, Blood Out

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
November 8th 2010


6208 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

KILL

did you listen to those YouTube links?

KILL
November 9th 2010


71965 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

no but thanks

this album rocks

demon of surveillance
December 14th 2010


837 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this band sounds really promising and unique for a prog metal band

Digging: Intervals - A Voice Within

KILL
December 14th 2010


71965 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yea totally

Willie
Moderator
December 14th 2010


16051 Comments


I'd start with Mosquito and then move forward before picking up the oldest albums, though.

DoubtGin
July 7th 2011


6752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this rules

Madbutcher3
November 26th 2011


1152 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Aww yeah. Album absolutely owns.

conesmoke
March 6th 2012


5243 Comments


i need to get this

Spag
July 16th 2012


1810 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Fuck yeah Psychotic Waltz.

Digging: Manes - Be All End All

evilford
August 31st 2012


22828 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this is great

Digging: Burial (NL) - Relinquished Souls



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