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Bleeding hearts go down in glory - 90%

androdion, May 26th, 2012

Psychotic Waltz’s existence went through two different decades and almost 15 years of playing together, influenced by the progressive legends of yore, before disbanding at the turn of the millennium. After a short existence as Aslan and a name change to the moniker with which they’ve become more renowned for, they’ve released four albums in a period of six years, the last of which being this one. Bleeding is, at the time of this writing, their last studio album and it picks up on its predecessor’s newfound inspiration and change of perspective towards their earlier works and widens that perspective, embodying it ultimately in a much better constructed set of songs. Not to say that Mosquito was a mediocre album, but there were certainly aspects on that record that could’ve been improved, and Bleeding puts that thought into practice. It’s also the only studio album from the band not to feature Ward Evans on the bass.

Again the band makes way for shorter compositions that are more based on a verse-chorus structure, while still managing to make them sound progressive and somewhat complex. It’s almost a progressive rock album in nature and style but being played by metal standards. And it’s really impressive to see how much technique and variety can be put into such short bursts of music. There’s also a further developed sense of atmosphere that grows from the inner calm that they seem to have found with its predecessor, a more laid back approach to the compositions that makes the album run across a wide gamut of emotions. With only two songs out of eleven going over the four minute mark one can say that the change of heart and direction undergone in their past album was vastly improved here, and the much better fluidity of the songs confirms exactly that, while avoiding moments that could feel out of character in the process.

And it can be seen from the start that things are going to be great, starting with the bass sound which is immediately presented by the frantic tapping of the newfound member, Phil Cuttino. His work is pretty astounding and no one could ever point him out for being a reason for the band’s demise, pretty much on the contrary, his work here is fantastic and a beauty to behold through the entirety of the album. We get treated by some great guitar leads as usual from the band before “Locust” hits the stage and throws you into outer space with its ethereal sound, making your soul tremble as Devon wails away the lyrics over a heavily layered keyboard sound. The chorus almost makes you freak out with its overlapping of sounds coming from all directions, covered in spacey keyboards and great bass lines. Things continue to unroll in great style with the beautiful and surprisingly gripping “Morbid”, with its amazing main riff that makes you bang your head like a maniac while the keys show again some of its magic, and the title track that shows Devon unleashing some of his higher notes and leaving you floored with them.

While listening to the album it’s clear that for the first time since its inception the band finally felt happy with the songwriting formula, and in a way that shows in the songs which present that emotive feeling so characteristic of their debut. Talking about emotions is quite fitting when referring to the beautiful “Drift”, one of the best songs of the entire album which is filled with marvelous guitar work that shows itself in either acoustic sections or enthralling leads. There are so many good moments that it’s hard to point out lesser songs, in fact I’d go as far as say that are barely any weak moments. The album travels through a whole palette of colours and an immense diversity of rhythms and sensations, presenting everything from rocking out songs that usually feature a heavy and powerful main riff to wailing mid-tempo ballads that swerve from the inspiration of the rhythmic section to bring upon a sense of emotiveness that feels quite intimate. Some other good examples of the first would be “Northern Lights” and “Sleep”, while “My Grave” would fit perfectly in the description of the later. It even features Devon’s best friend, the flute, which he hadn’t used since the debut. This song in particular is a brilliant piece of raw emotion, and again the mixing in of acoustic guitars proves to be an accomplished experiment as they make you slowly tilt your head as if accompanying the sunset breeze.

This was a band that never had it going easy for them, and yet they’ve managed to continuously push forward in the personal pursuit for their envisioned artistic ideal. Bleeding isn’t Psychotic Waltz’s strongest effort, but with such a competition from their first couple of albums it shouldn’t amaze anyone that it isn’t. However it is a very strong effort and a very cohesive album, and more so a work that is the proper realization of their vision. Everything feels in place and they sound at the top of their game, despite all the past and present problems they had to overcome. It’s really a shame that this band remains buried in the past and that they haven’t written anything new in more than 15 years, because this is exactly the type of band that has both the ideas and the virtuosity needed to make great music. They could come back triumphantly or not, and if not we’ll always have these four album to revel upon. Bleeding may be their last testimony of greatness but for what is worth it sees the band going out in style.