American progressive metal pioneers PSYCHOTIC WALTZ were a very prolific band in the ’90s, releasing four fantastic albums between 1990 and 1996. After a fifteen-year hiatus, they reunited in 2011 but hadn’t published a new record despite touring around Europe every once in a while. Luckily for their fans, the long wait is over as they announced their first album in over two decades with new label Inside Out Music. Since vocalist Devon Graves is living now in Europe while the rest of the band is still located in the USA, the writing and recording process took way longer than usual, but after almost a decade in the making we finally got our hands on “The God-Shaped Void.”
The album opens with “Devils and Angels,” an atmospheric and larger-than-life epic track, filled with layers and complex details but without becoming derivative. The guitar work is astonishing and that acoustic segment in the middle section is utterly efficient, adding some contrast to the mix. “Stranded” has a phantasmagoric and eerie aura to it, very retro-sounding and spooky, almost like GHOST minus the pop gimmicks. The vocal line is catchy and soothing, while the guitar solos are magnificent. “Back to Black” is one of my favorite songs on the album, standing out with its passionate vocals full of attitude, intense guitar, and keyboard riffs. Despite the modern sound and production, it takes you straight back to their ’90s albums. An instant classic.
In “All the Bad Men” they dive even deeper into the darker side of their music, with a sound reminiscent of old ALICE IN CHAINS and some sharp, heavy riffing à la ICED EARTH. Check out the fantastic lyric video directed by Costin Chioreanu if you haven’t. The song blends perfectly with “The Fallen,” a fantastic acoustic tune, very moving and dramatic without feeling cheesy. The vocals are again very soulful, and every instrumental arrangement falls into place, including those exquisite synthesizers from space. They step up the drama even further with the dynamic “While the Spiders Spin”, where Devon delivers a David Bowie-inspired vocal performance, mixing melody, theatricals and heaviness in the right amounts. Another of my favorites.
“Pull the Strings” and “Demystified” are perfect examples of how versatile this band can be, bringing back those classic BLACK SABBATH influences in their heavy riffs, but still adding their own twists like those terrific flute solos that take their music to the next level. “Sisters of the Dawn” is another highlight of the album, with its apocalyptic vibe and psychedelic sound, very heavy yet super melodic. The chorus is again very powerful and catchy, and it will surely spin in your head for a while. “In the Silence” is the perfect closer for the record with its haunting and majestic, multi-layered instrumentations that first take you high and then bring you back to earth with a beautiful acoustic outro.
I’m usually quite moderate with my statements but I would dare to say that “The God-Shaped Void” is a modern masterpiece and arguably a strong contender for 2020’s album of the year. Every track has something unique and genius about themselves, and the more I listen to the album the more addicted I get. Devon Graves’ vocal performance throughout the record is filled with so much intensity and passion that it is impossible to remain indifferent. Every progressive metal fan should give this album a listen, and I hope that this new release also brings more attention to their fantastic early catalogue. I’m looking forward to seeing PSYCHOTIC WALTZ performing these massive epic tracks live and I’m happy to say that the wait was completely worth it.
Written by David Araneda
1. Devils and Angels
3. Back to Black
4. All the Bad Men
5. The Fallen
6. While the Spiders Spin
7. Pull the String
9. Sisters of the Dawn
10. In the Silence
Devon Graves – vocals
Dan Rock – guitars & keys
Brian McAlpin – guitars
Ward Evans – bass
Norman Leggio – drums
Inside Out Music
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