Is it fair to call Headspace a super group? Well, looking at the musicians in the band they certainly meet the requirements for being one. Headspace consists of at least three musicians who already have a good record of service in other groups. Firstly singer Damian Wilson, who's well-known from the progressive metal bands Threshold and Ayreon, but also from the neo-progressive rock band Landmarq and a number of projects. Secondly keyboardist Adam Wakeman, the son of the famous Rick Wakeman (ex-Yes), who now plays with Ozzy Osbourne, and thirdly Lee Pomeroy, the bassist of It Bites. These three musicians are complemented with drummer Richard Brook, who played with Roger Daltry − if I'm correct − and guitarist Pete Rinaldi (Hot Leg, Anchorhead), who's less known, but nevertheless an impressive guitarist.
If a band is labelled to be a super group they may have a problem: you have to come up to people's expectations before you have even played or recorded a single note. So let's find out whether the debut album I Am Anonymous is a winner or not. The opening song Stalled Armageddon immediately grabs you with an instrumental opening part in the vein of Dream Theater, but with a more melodic sounding piano. When Damian Wilson starts to sing with his characteristic voice, it's only logical that you're inclined to compare him to the majestic Threshold. Sure, there are some minor similarities, but Headspace have its own style, the guitars are different, which doesn't necessarily mean better, but surely not worse than Threshold's. Perhaps the keyboards are more related to the piano and the overall sound is a lot darker and moodier.
After the successful opener, Fall Of America contains a very heavy guitar sound; an outburst of keyboards lead to a smooth vocal part in which we can enjoy Damian's sensual voice that culminates into a powerful crescendo. With a passage slightly in the vein of Porcupine Tree, the band builds up to a final and fine combination of guitar and keyboards. Soldier is a dark ballad featuring strong vocals over relaxed piano playing. Very heavy, even touching the edges of trash metal, are the guitars in Die With A Bullet, although the vocals stay solidly within the boundaries of prog metal. This powerful song combines a heavy sound with melancholic vocals; an excellent combination. The instrumental part, a keyboard solo over a heavy base is just brilliant. The sound of a church organ introduces In Hell's Name wherein Damian Wilson has a slightly different voice at the beginning, but still very emotional. A powerful middle-section leads to an acoustic guitar solo. In general this song slightly resembles Haken, another great prog metal band.
The longest piece of the album is Daddy Fucking Loves You. It contains a soft acoustic beginning and smooth vocals, but it builds up to a stunning epic with powerful riffs, progressive keyboard parts and powerhouse drumming. Adam Wakeman really excels during a duel with Pete Rinaldi's guitar, but his piano parts are worth listening to as well. This epic piece ends with an acoustic part. Invasion starts with a Tool-like bass guitar which continues during the song together with outstanding guitar sounds. The guitar and the bass dominate this piece which makes the overall sound a bit different from the others. The riff after Wakeman's part is the one I like the most. The final song is The Big Day wherein all the elements of the previous songs pass the review: brilliant vocals, excellent guitar play and keyboards all over the place. It's a powerful piece to end an album with, a fine composition that features all elements of progressive metal.
At the beginning of this review I wanted to find out whether I Am Anonymous is a winner or not. Well, I can only confirm what I secretly was hoping for. Headspace deliver a great debut album in the best progressive metal tradition; brilliant dark-edged prog metal with an excellent singer and outstanding musicians. I can't wait to see them perform live together with Haken in September 2012.
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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