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Spanish castle cream. . .WTF? - 87%

Psychotic Fates, October 19th, 2012

While Into the Everflow didn't wanna die either young or old but still wanted its time to come, Mosquito is a condensed version of its predecessor, with more funk rock experimentation. It could be described as alterna-prog metal. This is a band aware of what's happening around them and desiring success yet hindered or helped (depending on your POV) by their tendencies towards metal and prog and their differing ideals. Clearly they wanted to write shorter, more accessible material but they did not sell out. Their name is Psychotic Waltz, think about that for a moment.

Lovestone Blind is a song that should have been a hit. The lyrics are ridiculous but I'm sure they mean something to Buddy. Speaking of Buddy, he identified more with the grunge bands of the time and the classic rock that inspired them than the '80s metal his bandmates identified more with. This was something that came through in their sound. However, there was some crossover between him and the others. It was actually Buddy that wrote the heaviest track on here in Locked Down and Dan that wrote the completely un-metal Darkness.

All the differing ideals cause this album (like both of its predecessors) to wander around so much but occasionally the guys would go, "Hey wait a minute, we're a metal band, aren't we?" At these times we got highlights in the previously mentioned Locked Down and Dancing in the Ashes. The latter song is the most speed metal thing this band would ever do in their post-Aslan/Burn the Night days. Other highlights are Shattered Sky which is a different kind of heavy with great lyrics. Only Time alternates between psyched out doom metal and Hendrixy space funk. All the Voices has some neat keyboard/flute intricacies and, well, lots of voices from Buddy. Every song on this album is good, with fuzzy riffs and nimble leads of some sort in all of them. Those leads are more subtle here compared to the way they dominated much of the band's earlier material. When these guys wanted to write catchy little tunes they were damn good at it.

The first couple minutes of Mindsong evokes images of an island paradise. The effect is achieved through exotic clean guitars, sequencing and percussion. This paradise is not a happy one though, we're seeing the sun go down through a depressed POV. The ending of both this song and album bothers me. New ideas pop up at the end but fade out, undeveloped. What follows is a couple minutes of silence then we get the scary-as-fuck Darkness instrumental. Other bands have done this too, I think its fucking stupid. Check out Skyclad's The Silent Whales of Lunar Sea for a cool way to do a hidden bonus track.

This time around the metal is more integrated into the background but still present, even if vaguely, on everything but Mindsong. Whereas on Everflow the metal was too often completely absent. Mosquito is easier to digest than its predecessors being that it's simple, at least by Psychotic Waltz standards which is still more technical than the average. This is not as good as Grace or Bleeding but just right for when you're in the mood for something different. Ugly artwork though, WTF?

A strange little bugger - 80%

androdion, May 24th, 2012

Psychotic Waltz will go down in the history books for a few reasons; be it because of the uniqueness of their music which brought them a cult fan base, or the fact that they were systematically ripped off by nearly every label releasing their music or people surrounding them. Despite being one of the unluckiest musical collectives in the history of metal I like to think that they’ll be remembered for their good moments, which is the same to say their musical output. And the fact remains that they’ve released what could be described as an air tight discography, one that featured different styles over the course of six years and four albums but that still bears enough quality to have you sitting down and enjoying it in its entirety.

Their third album, Mosquito, is where the band definitely sheds the skin of earlier efforts and metamorphoses into a different entity; one less worried about highly technical passages or complicated long songs, giving instead room for tracks more focused on catchy hooks and powerful choruses. The band has always managed to introduce some brilliant choruses in their twisted compositions, but here it seems like the scales have turned and the hefty guitar work now meanders around these catchy vocal lines, instead of being the other way around. Structurally there are also differences, with most songs now being smaller affairs that normally go between 3 and 4 minutes. There’s a major sense of easiness and a cooled down atmosphere that counterposes with the more aggressive writing featured on the first couple of albums. In a way this is where the psychedelic elements are given a bigger role in the band’s sound, heavily enhancing the atmosphere and layering what can be described as simpler, yet still somewhat complex, songs.

I know how oxymoronic this sounds but it is in fact the best way to describe the sound on this album, as the opener and title track immediately shows. The rhythm section sets the tone by going into a progressive overdrive of shifting patterns, while Devon starts the vocal show, further demonstrating the toning down he had been undergoing for the past few years. He progressively went for a more mid-range tone with each passing album and in Mosquito he seems to have finally stabilized it. The following songs continue to show the easy going tone of the album; be it with the enticing main riff of “Lovestone Blind” which almost resembles a stoner song, or the atmospheric leanings of “Haze One” that recounts the experience of living on the road, constantly travelling without a sense of tomorrow. There’s a marvelous guitar solo to be found near the end of it, clearly showing that they can still surprise the listener with great axe work. This album marks a shift in the band’s musical output, showing them as more mature individuals who now have other priorities and concerns in life, something that transpires into their sonic output. The haunting “All The Voices” is another example of their newfound sense of calm, ladened by a very peculiar synthesizer sound that reeks of the seventies, and featuring a moving vocal delivery by Devon.

The album barely averts this chilled out mid-paced tone except on a couple of faster numbers like the rocking “Cold” or the speedy “Dancing In The Ashes”. The first is a rocking song, resembling the opener but more upbeat, and showing a great sense of groove. It incorporates some of the best guitar work on the entire album, with the duality of the crashing guitars followed closely by the powerful drumming. The later is pure speed, going to the point where it actually feels a bit off-kilter in this album, with its two and a half minutes of speedy drumming and furious spewing out of the lyrics. This is also where we get to hear a bit of double-bass in the drums and an almost Paul Gilbert feel circa Racer X on the guitars. A cute little number that sadly feels a bit out of place as the rest of the album is quite sluggish compared to it. There’s only one long song in the album but it’s more of a studio trick than anything else since it consists of a six-minute part followed by silence and then a hidden segment. Sadly the streamlined approach of these songs made no room for personal favourites like the long affairs “A Psychotic Waltz” or “Into The Everflow” that could be found on previous albums.

In the end Mosquito is a pretty radical departure from the band’s earlier sound, marking itself as the turning point in their careers and in some way it paved the beginning of the end. It’s not to say that the album is bad, far from it. It’s a very enjoyable piece of music that is still able to touch the inner Psychotic Waltz fan in the all the right places, albeit in a very different way. The fact is that an evolution is shown here, one that would be further enhanced with the following album. Evolution isn’t necessarily a bad thing and I prefer seeing the band treading new grounds and expanding its musical horizons rather than repeating itself in a watered down fashion. Many bands fails to understand that specific moment in time where playing a certain way stops being fun and starts being a means to an end, and in that sense I think that Psychotic Waltz did exactly that. They’ve averted becoming clichés and opted instead for growing both personally and musically, and they present it in the form of this quirky little album. Don’t pass it off on accounts of being a different affair as its sense of groove is very enticing and turns it into a rather enjoyable experience.

Good Psychedelic Metal - 85%

username345, June 23rd, 2008

After creating 2 masterpieces of complex and technical progressive metal with ‘A Social Grace’ and ‘Into the Everflow’, many Psychotic Waltz fans were disappointed with their third release, ‘Mosquito’. Although Psychotic Waltz had always had psychedelic influences in their music, leading their unique style to be dubbed ‘hippie metal’ by some fans, it was only here that the progressive influences that overpowered their older work were almost completely abandoned and replaced with far a more noticeable psychedelic sound than before. If Syd Barrett had continued making music after leaving Pink Floyd and made a metal album, it would probably sound like this.

The intricate progressive epics had been replaced with a much simpler sound with traditional song structures, and obvious verse-chorus arrangements. However, despite the more accessible catchy ‘pop’ sound and accusations of Psychotic Waltz selling out, ‘Mosquito’ still sounds fantastic.

‘Mosquito’ is much more mellow than their older albums. Although there were calm sections in ‘Into the Everflow’, this whole album has a very laid back atmosphere - it’s metal that you can relax to. Synths are used a lot more than before and sometimes even a flute to enhance the calm atmosphere. Even the lyrics have been simplified, though they are still much weirder than most, with a psychedelia theme running throughout the album.

This sound is largely due to the strange production, which Scott Burns (who has worked with bands such as Death and Atheist) worked on. The production gives it a down-tempo, doomy sound. While this helps with the more mellow songs, it does hinder a few songs that should be much heavier, making them sound slightly too weak. Saying that, the album opens brilliantly with the title track, the liveliest track on the album with a great riff running throughout. This song really demonstrates the potential of the band’s new simpler sound, taking away the meandering atmospheric sections and concentrating instead on a more concise typical metal style.

The problem is that these more metal songs don’t completely fit with the rest of the album, making it sound slightly disjointed. Mostly it tries to create a relaxed feeling but the title track and ‘Dancing In The Ashes’ come in all of a sudden, sounding out of place when put next to the calmer songs. As only a few of the 11 tracks (including the very pointless hidden track) are like this it doesn’t get in the way too much, but it probably would have sounded a lot better if they had replaced these songs with other mellower tracks instead.

As always with Psychotic Waltz, the musicianship is superb. The band members are easily capable of handling the new simpler songs and managed to adapt to their new style well, writing some excellent and memorable melodies. The biggest weakness of the band this time is surprisingly, after listening to their first 2 albums, their singer, Buddy Lackey. On ‘Mosquito’ his singing is much more restrained and calm than before, not using much for his incredible vocal range. Sometimes his voice sounds drowned out because of the production and on the more metal sections especially his voice sometimes has a nasally tone to it.

While it doesn’t have the dark haunting atmosphere of ‘Into the Everflow’, or the amazing technical musicianship of ‘A Social Grace’, ‘Mosquito’, while slightly inconsistent and arguably their worst release does have a much more accessible sound that even non-metal fans might enjoy.

Not bad, ... indeed! - 90%

ShatteredSky, June 21st, 2003

Generally considered as their most commercial album, the songs are actually overall simpler. On the other hand the production has gained quality. The thrashy atmosphere of the first two releases and the experimental mood from “Into the everflow” is gone, but the other remaining PW trademarks make this CD a worthy buy. The songs are shorter and groovier (i.e. “Lovestone blind”, “Shattered Sky”). “Haze one” describes the silence in the tour bus after a gig, leaving behind just a diffuse emptiness …”Shattered Sky” is one of my personal favorites of PW, combining a “waltzing” rhythm of the mighty drums with the special guitar sound of Brian and Dan, well suited by the magnificent intense vox of Buddy. “All the voices” sounds like deep space, “Dancing in the ashes” is quite a speed piece and “Only time” has a psychic touch. The “Mindsong” resembles “Into the everflow” material with its spacy beginning and psychedelic second part (for those of you who like Wahwahs).