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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.