- Well told story through gorgeous vocals
Adam Wakeman: doesn’t wear a cape, even though he is the son of Rick Wakeman; yes, that Rick Wakeman. With all the work Adam has been doing with Ozzy and Black Sabbath, somehow the last place I expected to see him releasing high quality material was in prog metal, and fine prog metal at that, even if it’s not nearly symphonic enough to recall his father’s work, although several reviewers have attempted to draw comparisons to his father’s prog rock; there are none. Yet somehow, Headspace exceeded all my expectations. I, for one, get very bored with so-called prog metal releases, but this I Am Anonymous really hit the nail on the head. Wakeman managed to turn me from a doubter into a believer with smart compositions of epic length and a very special weapon: Damion Wilson.
Headspace’s first full length album, I Am Anonymous mixes the best that Wakeman and Wilson have to offer. The tracks are tightly composed and lyrically ambitious, delivering an anti-war message that is both brutal and powerful. Overarching the individual songs are several sections that add loads of depth to the album through the perspective of a soldier and the ideology that he’s fed. Apart from the lyrics themselves being brilliant and thorough, each of these overarching sections has a small bit of text that is crossed out, throwing the listener into the mental anguish of a soldier’s struggle to cope with reality. Bottom line is that I Am Anonymous is a true lyrical gem, one which sucks you in and forces you to relate to what it’s saying. There’s actually so much text that you wonder how they are going to fit it into all the songs. Not only do they do so, but Damion’s presentation of the lyrics is heartfelt and comprehensible, making the message accessible even without the presence of the album booklet.
What’s great about Headspace’s composition is that musically each track tells a story. Even without the gorgeous vocals of Mr. Damion Wilson, the songs themselves have a great sense of trajectory. Take “Fall of America,” for example. It’s large scale makes it possible to represent a number of moods, all of which do a majestic job at expressing the lyrics. The riffs are huge, in your face, and have tons of groove. At times Headspace breaks into hard rock territory, while there’s other moments of fantastic dissonance with haunting keys and almost a polyrhythmic feel. The chorus is slow, doomy, and powerful. You can look at just about any track and find a similar story. This whole album is milks the ability to smoothly transitions you from exploding mortars to weeping for the dead as it pulls you in and out of harsh riffs and soulful ballads.
This is exactly why Damion Wilson, in my opinion, is the absolute perfect singer for this album. He knows how to be intense, he can sing his soul out on the soft parts, instilling the story with a sense of tragedy, and he can even be catchy and rhythmic, falling somewhere between a weird but clever feel half way between Tool and Porcupine Tree. His main strength, however, lies in his ability to interpret the lyrics. On “Soldier” he sounds so sorrowful that you are really asking yourself what you’ll do when the war is over, hoping for a proper burial at home. The final track, “The Beginning,” shows some brilliant, ethereal and uncanny vocal harmonies between Damion and members of the band, and the entire song is filled to the max with Damion delivering heartfelt lines heightened by gut wrenching lyrical beauty. I have heard this many in many bands and projects, and I must say that his vocal performances on Headspace take the cake; perhaps the finest work he’s ever done as a whole.
These British boys certainly deliver both quality and quantity with their latest release, I Am Anonymous. This is an album that deserves thorough inspection, as it is getting better and better with every listen. When I first heard Damion with Rick Wakeman’s New English Rock Ensemble, I thought it was a great combination. Little did I know that this Threshold legend of prog metal really was destined not for father, but for son. Adam sure found just the right group of musicians for this fantastic release. I wish them the best of luck and success in the future and am expecting more great releases in the future.