One of the major drawbacks of playing more progressively minded metal is that there is a formidable amount of work involved, not least in terms of piecing those convoluted concept albums together. As a result, the fact that The Vicious Head Society’s extraordinary debut album, Abject Tomorrow, is essentially the work of one man (albeit with a few guest musicians, including legendary death metal drummer Kevin Talley) may be enough to make your brain pop. It’s a monumental piece of intricate and extravagant metallic bombast that marks out its creator, Graham Keane, as a major new talent in the prog metal world. Remarkably, Graham is almost comically humble about his achievement.
“I never really thought it would go anywhere or that I would ever release it,” he says with a wry chuckle. “I live on the west coast of Ireland and I’m probably never going to tour, so who’s going to want to hear it? I put some demos up on Soundcloud and other social media pages and people were saying, ‘This is really good! You should do something with it…’ As it turns out, people seem to like it, but that really came as a surprise!”
Abject Tomorrow is based on Graham’s own vision of some grim, dystopian future where humans are microchipped at birth in order to control and inhibit their emotions and behaviour. The story’s central character discovers that his chip has malfunctioned and begins to reconnect with his humanity before being hunted down by the authorities. It’s an undeniably nerdy prog-meets-sci-fi extravaganza and is all the better for it, but beyond familiar fictional tropes, Abject Tomorrow is also a story about its author’s own struggles.
“For me, the story mirrors the battle inside my head,” says Graham. “One side is suppressed and scared to express itself, the other really wants to put music out into the world. I’ve always got this voice in my head that pushes me down and says, ‘No one’s gonna like it, it’s fucking shit!’ I put all my anxieties and fears into making this album so it’s both personal and nerdy sci-fi! Ha ha ha!”
Freshly surprised by the positive response to his debut, Graham is making tentative plans to turn The Vicious Head Society into a full live band. Until then, he’ll be busy tying himself in knots over the fine details of his wonderfully profligate musical endeavours.
“Oh I’m really, really neurotic about music,” he laughs. “But ever since my older brother played me a Rush album when I was eight years old, this has all just been a part of my psyche.” We reckon we owe his big brother a beer.
SOUNDS LIKE: Exploratory prog metal with tons of ideas and properly brutal moments
FOR FANS OF: Dream Theater, Devin, Haken
LISTEN TO: The Sycophants
Abject Tomorrow is out now via Bandcamp and iTunes