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A Social Grace
Released: 1990, Sunsonic Music
Hidden Gem Review
I’m reviewing an old tape this time! I picked this one to review in conjunction with the new Dead Soul Tribe (check our review database to read that review). Psychotic Waltz was of course Buddy Lackey’s (aka Devon Graves) first band. PW has 6 releases and to date no one had reviewed one on Metal-Rules! So I though it would be appropriate.
I hesitate to fully rank this as a Hidden Gem, because …well…it isn’t that gem like. A diamond in the rough, maybe. . .but buried treasure? No. I have listened to PW for a long time, but you‘ll notice I didn’t say I was a fan. It’s odd, I have three of the four studio albums they did in my collection, and I hold the band in high regard but for some reason I cannot make an emotional connection with them. I know that sounds …fruity!!
I’ve listened to A SOCIAL GRACE probably 20 times over the years (I only got this one three or four years ago) and I still can’t name a song, sing along to a song or quote any lyrics. And yet, EVERYTIME I put it on I say to myself, “OH, yeah, this is awesome! Why don’t I like it?” Weird…
The production is adequate and it is a tape that is ten years old. The production increased with every release they did and this was a fairly rare indie debut, so production is forgivable. They have lyrics and credits but no photos. The band shortly after started a relationship with Travis Smith shortly after and all their material has looked absolutely killer ever since! The cover scene is… well…a Psychotic Waltz. What did you expect?
Musically they are this frantic thrash-prog hybrid that I’m sure just freaks some fans and listeners out. It is intense and incredibly well played. Everyone in the band seems to be a very talented musician. The songs have this frantic, schizophrenic quality, never really settling into any groove or power. The guitars blaze but are choppy and all over the place. I can’t put my finger on any band that sounds like them which is a very good sign but yet they perhaps suffer from no familiar reference point for less adventurous listeners. Maybe that is why they have toiled in the underground for ten years with minimal success. As I said, I really admire these guys--they are survivors and innovators. I want to like it but the songs are just lacking in hooks, and the choruses are fragmented and disjointed. I’m not suggesting I want 4/4 time and big harmonized Bon Jovi back-up vocals on the chorus but a reference point that the songs can return to after it’s whirlwind excursion into prog/shred land would be useful.
Occasionally there are releases I just don’t get. I don’t dwell on it because life is too short. I will probably be in the minority opinion on this one, much like my recent review of the latest Pain of Salvation. (Boy did a few people take me to task on that one!) Bottom line: PW are incredibly talented and kick eternal ass. But just not mine.
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