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End the round - 96%

Psychotic Fates, October 23rd, 2012

As I sit writing this Psychotic Waltz have been reunited for a couple years and touring Europe. There have been talks of them putting out a new album but no news on its development. So, I write this wondering if this is their last album. Dark Millenium doesn't count.

The best way to describe this is a natural evolution of their sound and sort of a cross between their debut and Mosquito. Some of the funk and psychedelic elements from that last album are still there and again the songs are all short and catchy, but this is crushingly heavy in its own way. After all the fucking around of the past albums Bleeding is the most straightforward thing this band ever did, leaning more towards the power metal end of the spectrum than the prog. There's still enough odd time sigs and experimentation to keep things interesting, though. The fourth and (at this point) final album in the PW discography sees the band at their most colorful with richly textured layering of music and vox. That color is matched in the album cover and inner sleeve artwork from Travis Smith. Keyboards are used with atmospheric perfection, the way it should be on a metal album, never as a lead instrument. You hear that Dream Theater, you and your wretched spawn of sycophants.

New bassist Phil Cutino enters the picture replacing Ward. It's immediately clear this man fits in well with the Waltzers as the album opens with a funky bass lick that is quickly joined by the thrashy sig riff of Faded. Phil's bass presence is loud and busy which perfectly suits the sound of this album. A cap must be doffed to Scott Burns for that sound, who was mostly known for producing Florida death metal. He had produced Mosquito too but he, along with the band, found the right sound here. A video was made for Faded as was one for My Grave, the only two official music videos for this band. My Grave is another Jethro Tull-inspired ballad but better than I Remember.

The lyrics on this disc seem to make a lot more sense compared to the last album. Need particularly stands out with thoughtful lyrics as it builds into that emotionally compelling "Your lips destroy like missiles" part. It’s one of the best songs on the album: a slow, heavy groover, epic in feel and with a deeply melodic outro consisting of background acoustic strumming and a beautifully twinned lead from a band chock full of them. Sleep is the heaviest track although all the songs have some thick riffage in them. The ending of Sleep reminds me of the ending of Fates Warning's Giant's Lore with obtusely melodic twinned leads over a weirdly metered yet groovy power metal riff. Brian and Dan are no longer twinning every lead though, there's some solos on here as there were on the last album as well. They weren't afraid to branch out, it was clear this was a band that would never stick to formulas.

Freedom? finally sees the perfect blending of Buddy's '60s rock vocals/lyrics with the metal aesthetic of his bandmates. The ending of it bugs me a bit. Kind of like the ending of Mindsong on the last album, it seems unfinished. A twisted reprieve of the clean intro riff is played but quickly goes nowhere and could have been developed into something more. Oh well, at least there's no stupid 2 minutes of silence followed by a surprise track.

I've given this album a higher score than A Social Grace but I like that one more, let me explain. This is an easier album to sit down and listen to right through than Grace or anything they've done for that matter, it's just so smooth. However, their debut has the best songs they've written even though the guys sound more comfortable here than ever. It's sad that at the point when it felt like everything was coming together for this band they were broken up by changes. One can only speculate what might have been had they had more success but of course North America cares little for this style of music.

Well, that concludes my review of the tragically brief career of this god-like band. Go buy all their albums now, they deserve your money. Hopefully they drop another one on us.