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A decent album from Psychotic Waltz's vocalist - 75%

username345, September 4th, 2008

It may be a bold statement to make, but Psychotic Waltz is arguably the most underrated metal band of all time. With complex song structures, amazing technical musicianship and genuinely beautiful melodies, the band created 4 albums, all (except the underrated third, ‘Mosquito’) to nearly unanimous praise, at least among those who heard them. One of the main reasons for Psychotic Waltz’s success though, was the incredible lead vocals of Buddy Lackey, who now records under the name Devon Graves with his new band Deadsoul Tribe.

Lackey’s first and only solo album ‘The Strange Mind of Buddy Lackey’, was released in 1993, after Psychotic Waltz’s second album, ‘Into the Everflow’ and the third ‘Mosquito’. ‘The Strange Mind of Buddy Lackey’ gives an early indication of the direction Waltz would go with their music, replacing the lengthy intricate song structures with a much less complex sound focusing much more on their psychedelic music influences.

‘The Strange Mind of Buddy Lackey’ has a much cruder and less polished sound than the Psychotic Waltz albums, replacing the haunting atmosphere and densely layered sound with a rough simpler and more commercialised riff-orientated sound. This is done quite well however, and there is still much influence from Psychotic Waltz’s prog beginnings with plenty of time signature changes and odd song structures that keep the music gripping, though the odd structure on ‘Windsong’ does get a bit annoying with the song’s constant stops and starts. All of the riffs are very catchy and memorable and are easily good enough to be listened to again and again.

There is also a lot of variety that stops the album getting at all boring. Acoustic guitars, piano and flutes all make appearances that give certain songs a nice folky/psychedelic sound, and the music ranges from cheerful and bright, like on ‘Let’s Start a War’ which is built on single bouncy and slightly cheesy riff, to haunting, like on ‘Singing’ without sounding at all disjointed. The songwriting is not quite as memorable as that from Psychotic Waltz however, and while this too has a mixture of heavy and light sections they are not mixed together nearly as well as Psychotic Waltz did, and the changes don’t feel quite as natural or smooth.

Buddy Lackey’s amazingly versatile singing is definitely the focus here. He is able to alter his voice completely from frantic shouting to a haunting ethereal wail seemingly effortlessly, constantly changing his style to go along with whatever mood the music is trying to convey. His singing is quite high-pitched and while definitely unique, could put some people off. At times it becomes slightly too nasally, a problem that would plague ‘Mosquito’, though it is not nearly as noticeable here. His lyrics are as strong as ever, and while not containing the complex metaphors of early Psychotic Waltz, they are still cryptic and extremely well written, focusing mainly on psychedelic themes.

Lackey’s backing band is also good. None of the music is that complex but guitarists Frank Jauernick and Dick Godau in particular manage to excel by creating some great solos. The drumming and bass playing doesn’t stand out that much as particularly impressive, but does the job perfectly. Buddy Lackey’s Jethro Tull-inspired flute playing is consistently impressive though, and his piano playing is also a nice inclusion, and gives the album a certain uniqueness from most other metal albums.

The problem with ‘The Strange Mind of Buddy Lackey’ though is the production. Especially on the heavier tracks the guitars sometimes sound a bit weak and thin and the low-key production makes the entire album sound slightly amateurish. The album mostly isn’t really that heavy because of this, and it’s actually mainly quite relaxing for a metal album. This is a bit of a disappointment after listening to the Psychotic Waltz albums though, which all contain a very rich and deep sound that is completely missing here. This doesn’t affect the lighter songs quite as much though, so these songs, like the folky ‘Just Like A Timepiece’ end up being the strongest on the album. This song was actually remade by Lackey’s new band Deadsoul Tribe with much better production and actually sounds inferior in many ways to the solo version.

Overall it’s a decent album and a nice alternative to heavier metal, but can only really be recommended to those already familiar with Psychotic Waltz and Deadsoul Tribe, otherwise they are better places to go first if you’re interested.