Review Summary: ‘Bleeding’ is exactly what ‘Mosquito’ should have been - everything that made Psychotic Waltz great condensed into shorter, catchier songs and a more accessible melodic sound.
Some fans were unhappy with Psychotic Waltz’s previous release, ‘Mosquito’, which simplified the typical Psychotic Waltz formula by removing the complex progressive arrangements and replacing them with a simpler, more pop-orientated psychedelic sound. Instead of returning to their prog roots with ‘Bleeding’, Psychotic Waltz continue along the lines of ‘Mosquito’, a move that easily could have ended in disaster. However, Psychotic Waltz manage to improve the sound in every way, creating what many see as their best work.
The most noticeable change between this and ‘Mosquito’ is the production. The thin fuzzy production that hindered ‘Mosquito’ has been replaced with a new richer sound that brings back the deep and dreamy atmosphere of ‘Into the Everflow’, though it is not quite as dark this time around.
The fluid guitar riffs contribute immensely to this mysterious dream-like atmosphere. Melodies merge smoothly around each other giving the album a free-floating style. The song-writing is much improved from that of ‘Mosquito’. The melodies are catchier and better written than before, and the riffs more powerful, with more ‘groove’. The guitar solos too are more melodic and impressive. It is clear that Psychotic Waltz have adapted completely to their new style, which they didn’t quite manage to do with ‘Mosquito’.
While ’Mosquito’ felt disjointed as it seemed to be trying to be mellow most of the time but ruined the atmosphere at times by trying to be ‘heavy’, the mix on ‘Bleeding’ is much better. For a metal album it is still very light, though songs are slightly heavier than those on ‘Mosquito’. On’ Bleeding’ it doesn’t sound like the two styles are combating each other like it did before, but instead blend together perfectly, giving the album more variety. Songs like ‘Sleep’ and ‘Bleeding’ contrast the styles brilliantly, while songs like ‘Skeleton’ focus more on the heavier side. There’s also a beautiful Jethro Tull inspired song, ’My Grave’, with acoustic guitar and flute played by vocalist Buddy Lackey.
Buddy Lackey’s singing is very much back on form here. While on ‘Mosquito’ the vocals were often nasally and buried by the down-tempo production, here they soar above the music. The singing is not quite as varied as on the first 2 albums, but the more controlled mellow singing used here is very impressive and fits perfectly with the dreamy music. However, due to his very unique and often high-pitched singing style, the singing could be a bit of an acquired taste for some, even though it is much more ordinary than it was in the early albums.
The lyrics are also simplified a bit more but are still much better than most metal lyrics, showing the amazing lyric-writing skill of Buddy Lackey. As with most Psychotic Waltz, the lyrics have a psychedelic theme.
The musicianship, as always with the band, is superb, with all of the members easily able to play the material completely accurately. Even though the bass is quite prominent in ‘Bleeding’, the absence of their amazing bassist Ward Evans luckily isn’t a problem as he has been replaced by the equally great Phil Cuttino, who managed to create some fantastic bass-lines here.
‘Bleeding’ is exactly what ‘Mosquito’ should have been - everything that made Psychotic Waltz great condensed into shorter, catchier songs and a more accessible melodic sound. Even though it's arguably not quite as strong as the first few albums, anyone new to the band should start here.