Graham Keane – Guitars
Wilmer Waarbroek, Derek Sherinan, Nahuel Ramos, Pat Byrne, Klemen Markelj, Kevin Talley and Nathan Pickering – Guest Musicians
1. The Sycophants
2. Abject Tomorrow
5. The 11th Hour
6. Psychedelic Torture Trip
7. Gods Of The New Age
8. Analogue Spectre
The Vicious Head Society was formed by guitar wizard Graham Keane. He began writing his debut album ‘Abject Tomorrow’ in 2010, with an easy going attitude. However, after his wife’s diagnosis of cancer in 2013, and when he was reminded of his own mortality, Keane began to take his project more seriously. You only live once. Virtual instruments weren’t acceptable to him anymore, so he contacted musicians throughout the world to help bring his project to life. Some of those he hired include Derek Sherinan, Wilmer Waarbroek and Nahuel Ramos.
The music here certainly sounds like it took seven years to compose and record. Holy moly! This is stuff that could make prog giants Dream Theater and Symphony X jealous. There is so much going on, that not only will the listener need countless repeats before he gets bored of it, he will need a large number of them before he can fully appreciate it. God knows how many time changes are on this album, and how many scales are employed.
The harmonies and melodies are often jazzy, surreal and sinister, so that means there is more to ‘Abject Tomorrow’ than power chords and pentatonic ideas. Putting it very mildly. Everything but the kitchen sink is thrown in, but in a way that is tasteful. Amazingly, not once does Keane’s music come across as too excessive.
The music’s influences also have something in common with the compositional techniques; there are many. Unsurprisingly, Keane has been inspired by proggers such as Yes and Genesis, but also the death metal band, Death and the thrash group Megadeth. You can expect the occasional growled vocal and plenty of delicious speed picked riffs, with chromatic notes thrown in. As Keane’s guitar technique is flawless and virtuosic, and as the drums, bass and keyboards are equally ostentatious, there is zero chance any fan could possibly be let down when getting a load of the grooves and freak-outs. Even though the vast majority of this album was recorded in the band leader’s home studio, few would notice. Nope, you can’t be disappointed by the production, either. Maybe one could be ripped off, by the lack of material? No chance, there. Almost all songs are over 8 minutes long, and the last one is near 20 minutes in length.
‘AT’ isn’t perfect, however. Its vocal parts never really achieve the interest that the instruments create. Obviously singing 15 notes a second wouldn’t be possible, but the vocalist’s note choices are rather mundane, despite the adventurousness that surrounds him. In addition, everyone plays with such relentless complexity and dexterity, that their novelty wears off. Don’t worry though, listening to the lead lines in TVHS isn’t the same grueling experience as having an ultra-scalic Yngwie Malmsteen solo forced upon you. Because of all this, this is a must for any fan of prog. It’s also essential listening for those who admire guitar legends such as Steve Vai, Jason Becker and countless other shredders. I’d even recommend it to open-minded jazz fusion fans, who appreciate wackiness in general. They won’t necessarily enjoy it, but they would be sure to respect it. Finally, if I had my way I would play TVHS on contemporary pop radio, so its audience get a taste of real music and they sort their lives out.