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The Vicious Head Society
Released: 2017, Independent
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
The Vicious Head Society is the brainchild of Irish guitarist Graham Keane. With beginnings in 2010, he has worked away and released an eight track full album which spans for 73 minutes of spectacular proggy metal magic. His vision has been brought to life with many guest appearances with several seasoned session musicians such as vocalists Wilmer Waarbroek and Pat Byrne; drummer Klemen Markelj and some more renowned musicians such as keyboardist Derek Sherinian (Dream Theatre, Alice Cooper and Yngwie Malmsteen etcetera etcetera) and one of the metal world's finest drummers in Kevin Talley (Chimaira, Dying Fetus and Misery Index; you get it). Together they have amassed a grand spectacle of an album, jam packed with some extensive musical virtuosity that supplies plenty of thrills and chills in an expertly crafted manner.
The album opens with the extraordinarily flairy 'The Sycophants' which starts off with the keyboards marching and wandering in a style akin to circus music before the other members combine and build the song. There's a definite campness that is exhibited in this track, and on others throughout the album, as we get taken through an ever evolving adventure through the endless possibilities that the tag of prog-metal and the abilities to abuse this tag provides. The styles in this song alone traverse many a musical plain with the transcending vocals, the many techy time signatures, grooves, stadium rock riffs, gravitating leadwork, emphatic synth and keyboards all wrapped together with some tight and crystalline rhythm.
At times throughout the album there's a feel of 'this is just so wrong but why is it working so well?'. It's a formula of individual abstract forces that are cleverly constructed to build off one another into some oddly satisfying arrangements. The second track, the title track of the album, starts off with an awfully heavy unmuted riff and equally bruising rhythm section before the songs drops with a pre-verse section reminiscent to the build up io the outro of Opeth's 'Deliverance'. There's a few moments throughout the album that are also reminiscent of other works; they are but momentary flashes and do not detract from the overall originality of the album. With the majority of tracks extending past the eight minute mark, it's understandable that swords may cross but only momentarily.
The length of the songs can be a bit overbearing at times as some just deviate a little too excessively as the tracks swirl and flex throughout their duration. For example, the first two and a half minutes of 'Downfall' provide a superb 80s dystopian electro sound which just disappears throughout the rest of the song. Even the emergence of death growls seems a bit off over the dextrous keyboard efforts working as two polar opposites that clash rather than attract. The death growls do come back in to the general makeup of the later tracks, and with better effect.
Only two tracks dare to sit below the seven minute mark, with the first being 'The Psychedelic Torture Trip'. This track is more heavy and techy rather than psychedelic but as a purely instrumental track, it has plenty of ridiculous licks, riffs and leads that have been a staple of this record. The penultimate track 'Gods Of A New Age' also sits under the seven minute mark and continues with the aggressive sound and with some excellent breaks and fills, it accentuates the devastating effect of the music. It's obviously not all just about being heavy as we get the clean vocals mixed in as well but the interchanges are rapid and serve to resoundingly stimulate and knock you off the ledge of comfortability.
The final track 'Analogue Spectre' serves as a nineteen minute synopsis of the previous offerings on the album. Some themes revert briefly back to sections of earlier tracks but they are expertly weaved in to the tapestry of this final song. Again, the leadwork is sensational and they were certainly not done with throwing out some more aloof influences as a brief latin jazz section appears before the fifteenth minute. Didn't expect that but right after an absolutely incredible solo from the synth erupts and boom there goes the pineal gland, shooting waves of consciousness into the far reaches of the universe. Riveting stuff and a great way to close the album.
It took seven years of Graham spending his own money to get the right people in to bring his ideas to life and he has achieved a very fine piece of music with his patience and investment. There's a lot to digest in this album with an interesting concept and some enigmatic music that pours out emotion and aggression in an ever twisting double helix of spectrums that collide and galvanise and heighten one another throughout this album. He is already demoing tracks for a second release, and due to the success that this album has enjoyed so far, it will hopefully not be another seven years until the next release.
Review by: PETE MUTANT
1. The Sycophants
2. Abject Tomorrow
5. The 11th Hour
6. Psychedelic Torture Trip
7. Gods Of The New Age
8. Analogue Spectre
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