DEAD SOUL TRIBE - The January Tree

Dead Soul Tribe - The January Tree

10 songs
50:49 minutes
***** ****


The name Devon Graves didn't sound a bell with me. When I read that he used to call himself Buddy Lackey, I was set back into the early 90s when he was the singer of Psychotic Waltz who released with A Social Grace one of the top 5 prog metal albums of all time. As things were, PW went slowly downhill after that furious beginning, Graves recorded an ambitious but poorly produced solo album in 1993, and left his band in 1997 because he felt like the weakest link... Now normally people leave bands because they think they are above everybody else, so here we have a rare case of unjustified modesty.

New millennium: Graves lives in Austria and has founded a new band / project called Dead Soul Tribe. I was vaguely familiar with their preceding album A Murder Of Crows, which was a fine display of modern progressive rock music, but only with the third release The January Tree did I find the energy to spend more time with DST. First of all, apart from the drums having been played by Adel Moustafa, Graves was in charge for all the other instruments: guitar, bass, keyboards and of course flute. Where early prog metal bands were either going the technical WatchTower / Mekong Delta route or the more melodic Dream Theater / Marillion path, Psychotic Waltz were always like the offspring of Jethro Tull gone metal. Of course DST is not Psychotic Waltz, and a good thing that is too. Not that PW were a bad band, but time doesn't stop for no one, and that's why it's so important that Graves is digging up so many new influences with his new project.

The opener Spiders And Flies already shows a certain dark atmosphere, which is creeping up more and more often on the album. With Sirens, he's displaying a more old school way of prog metal which could also have been found on his 90s releases. Nearly at the end of the album, we get a new (and better) version of Just Like A Timepiece, a song that was already featured on his aforementioned solo album.

While The January Tree is not a revolutionary album, it still manages to combine all that was great with Psychotic Waltz with a more contemporary take of metal, in the fashion of Tool and A Perfect Circle. One moment Graves is still the pied piper of prog metal, just to sing gloomy ballads more fitting with the new millennium, thus letting me hope that this wonderful album will reach conservative proggies as well as fans of more modern rock music. At least this is one album everyone should lend an open ear.

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