I Am Anonymous is the debut full-length album from United Kingdom progressive metal act Headspace. The band is noted for featuring the vocal talents of Damian Wilson (of Threshold, Star One et al) and Adam Wakeman, son of the legendary progressive rock keyboardist Rick Wakeman (Yes), naturally on keyboards himself. I’m not familiar with any of the other musicians in the group, namely Pete Rinaldi (guitars), Lee Pomeroy (bass) and Richard Brook (drums), but I Am Anonymous shows them to be of the same calibre as Wilson and Wakeman.
The first thing to point out here is that you have to like long songs to appreciate I Am Anonymous. With the lone exception of Soldier at 3:44, Headspace has crafted an album composed entirely of eight plus minute compositions, with a couple of them moving by the ten minute mark. They even go right up to a dead fifteen minutes for Daddy Fucking Loves You. This means that despite I Am Anonymous only having eight tracks, we’re talking an album that lasts a whopping seventy-three minutes. And it’s definitely every second well spent.
Headspace music fits the ‘traditional’ approach to making progressive metal, with influences from progressive rock music also creeping in. Right off with the opening Stalled Armageddon we’re treated to the musicians building up into an explosion of progressive metal music. Wakeman’s keyboards are highlighted above the metal riffs and really carry the intro of the track until things calm down for the first verse. Returning to the heavy stuff again for the chorus the group deliver strong music that twists and turns between heavy and light sections right up until a heavy and triumphant conclusion.
As good as it starts though I Am Anonymous just goes from strength to strength. Fall of America ups the intensity of the riffs for the first ten plus minute track, yet it has all the more atmosphere for it. The way the music builds between sections easily drags me in and I often can’t believe it when these lengthy tracks seem over in the blink of an eye. The level of variety between the tracks also keeps the album fresh. Each of the eight pieces has its own feel and atmosphere. Soldier is a ballad and Die With a Bullet is a catchy yet not poppy metal onslaught while In Hell's Name shifts back and forth between light melodic moments and heavy progressive metal parts.
The crowning achievement has to however be the fifteen minute piece I mentioned earlier, entitled Daddy Fucking Loves You. With a title like that I wasn’t sure what to expect from the track. What it turns out to be is perhaps the most complex piece of music on the album, with so many shifting moods that it’s impossible to keep track of everything. The start sounds almost like Damian is trying to lull a baby to sleep, but then the metal and the prog kick in as one and we’re treated to a furious instrumental section and we’re over the seven minute mark before it calms again and the vocals return. It’s another light section but it doesn’t last long as Headspace step things back up to the gear of the instrumental section for a symphonic backed section which has a few vocals but quickly goes off into another epic instrumental section with duelling guitar and keyboard leads that has a real classic progressive rock feel to them. Passing the ten minute mark and the song moves into quite uplifting territory, bringing it all round to its conclusion. But even when it’s fading out and you think it’s over, they throw in a sample of the song Hush, Little Baby, before the final calm ending. Just to give you an idea about how impressed I am with the track, I never write this much on a single track regardless of its length. It’s easily a contender for the best progressive metal track of the year.
There are still two tracks to go after this, Invasion and The Big Day. They retain the quality of the release but after Headspace played their hand with Daddy Fucking Loves You there’s nothing really either piece can do to recapture quite the same level of greatness, although I must say that The Big Day does contain some of the very best vocal lines from Damian. All the same, the band hasn’t left a lot to complain about with this effort. Any self-respecting prog fan should be adding I Am Anonymous to their collection at once!
I’d been a fan of Damian Wilson’s vocals for some time with him being a regular collaborator with Arjen Anthony Lucassen for both the Ayreon and Star One projects, but until Headspace came along with I Am Anonymous there was never an album I could really appreciate that had just his voice. I’d enjoyed his work with Threshold, but never to the standard that he just achieved with I Am Anonymous. The album is highest grade progressive metal and I suspect these guys are going to continue to wow us in the future. For this very promising start Headspace deserves a masterpiece tier rating.
(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven (http://metaltube.freeforums.org))