Considering that Deadsoul Tribe is the brainchild of singer, songwriter, guitarist, keyboard player and flutist Devon Graves - the alter ego of Buddy Lackey, former front man of the progressive outfit Psychotic Waltz - it's easy to understand why this self-titled debut sounds so schizophrenic. Incorporating musical styles as diverse as modern alternative metal and atmospheric progressive rock, Graves spills his soul, which is far from dead. The result is an addicting album packed with personality. Graves calls it "a kind of diary about the past two years of my life," leading listeners to wonder just what kind of life this guy leads.
Deadsoul Tribe opens with a short spoken-word passage - "We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold" - followed by the head-banging cacophony of "Powertrip," a disturbing yet irresistible song about a man whose pants are "crusted with semen from constantly jacking off when he can't find a rape victim." From there, Graves explores a twisted mish-mash of loneliness, heartache and hope. "The Haunted" may creep you out if you bother to listen beyond the heavy riffs and fancy guitar work, and "You" mesmerizes with an intoxicating chorus that reeks of desperation and fear. "One Bullet" builds in intensity, while the chaotic and cathartic "Cry for Tomorrow" ends Deadsoul Tribe's debut on a rather positive note. Interspersed among the 13 songs here (including two bonus tracks) are brief one-minute musical reflections - some instrumental, some with lyrics. Each is succinct and distinct, adding depth to an album already rich in textures and layers.
To make Deadsoul Tribe a real band, Graves surrounded himself with a group of musicians as eclectic as his music. Drummer Adel Moustafa is half-Austrian and half-Egyptian, and until recently he never even owned a drum kit. Meanwhile, bass player Roland Ivenz used to play in an Austrian punk band, and Volker Wilschko shares guitar parts with Graves, who takes on several different vocal identities throughout the record's course. This bizarre but ultimately satisfying album stirs all sorts of emotions and requires repeat listens to fully grasp its impact. I'm tempted to label Deadsoul Tribe the most refreshingly honest genre alternative since the arrival a few years ago of fellow InsideOut mates Pain of Salvation. This is progressive rock for the 21st century - ballsy and unforgettable.