Back in your box then, Dream Theater... Okay, a bit unfair perhaps. This magazine, as does this writer, loves Dream Theater, both pre-and post Portnoy. Not just for what they’ve done for the progressive cause, but also for the amazingly enjoyable music they continue to make. And before anyone starts banging on about jingoism, if such allegations were true, I’d be throwing my oar in the ring for The Butterfly Effect or Cog! But with I Am Anonymous, Headspace have created one of the most engaging and exciting heavy prog albums that has landed across our desks since the magazine began back in 2009.
Headspace: I Am Anonymous
Adam Wakeman’s band of musical brothers reunite to follow their 2007’s I Am EP with an eight track concept piece.
It is, if you can excuse the pun, a heady brew too. The musical depth is matched by the ideas behind the eight songs that make up I Am Anonymous. Any band that starts with the Kubler-Ross model (the theory constructed by Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross to explain the five stages of grief) and goes on to explore themes of war and chaos as Headspace explore the machinations of the human psyche is toying with strong stuff indeed. Power ballads these are not!
However such mind-boggling topics are made easier to digest when it comes to the music. 2007’s I Am EP might have served as a little taster, as did the two shows Headspace played supporting Ozzy Osbourne, whom head honcho Adam Wakeman plays keyboards for, but in reality they remain something of an unknown quantity to many.
This much was apparent when the band took to the stage at last year’s Summer’s End festival. An astute and forward-thinking booking on the part of the promoters, Headspace’s quite excellent live performance was head and shoulders above everyone that weekend, a forceful, professional and exhilarating show of dynamic force that suggested here was a band ready to take on the arena-players of prog and beat them at their own game. Perhaps a bit too brash and self-assured for some, who retreated to the bar in the face of such a brazen display of showmanship, but certainly one of the very few bands of this genre with the evident ability from the off to undertake such a task.
It goes without saying that the five members of Headspace carry with them some weighty pedigree themselves. Alongside the aforementioned Wakeman there’s sometime Threshold singer Damian Wilson, whose powerful and soulful delivery here is without a doubt the finest of his varied career. Bassist Lee Pomeroy already is known for his work in the current, much revered incarnation of It Bites, although he also moonlights for Take That [snigger], guitarist Pete Rinaldi has trod the boards with Justin Hawkins’ Hot Leg and drummer Richard Brook met Wakeman A while filling in on drums for Wakeman R!
Such pedigree is writ large over the eight tracks on I Am Anonymous. Only one, the plaintive Soldier, clocks in at under eight minutes, with the excellent epic Fall Of America, already the band’s signature song it would seem, and the even more courageous Daddy Fucking Loves You both landing at a progmungous 10 and 15 minutes respectively. Of course such epic tune length would mean nothing if the music was not as good as the line-up implies. Worry not, it most certainly is.
Stridently powerful progressively inclined rock which hits home in heavy fashion but without ever slipping into archetypal prog metal territory. That said, it will find ready bedfellows with the aforementioned Dream Theater, and perhaps Queensrÿche at their most progressive, and maybe even Rush. Guitars and keyboards collide head-on in such exciting fashion, and with Wilson showing once and for all why he’s so highly rated, much of Headspace is built to take your breath away.
To give the band the chance they deserve, someone should get them out on the road as support to Dream Theater, or to a mainstream heavy rock band capable of playing arena shows (such a pity that Rush don’t take support bands these days). Headspace would clean up. That much is evident from listening to I Am Anonymous. But with the intelligence running through both the music and lyrics clearly set to wow those who hear them, at whatever pace Headspace operate at, it promises to be one terrifically exciting ride.