Back in 2012, I was blown away by the debut from the United Kingdom’s Headspace, a hard rockin’, heavy proggin’ band featuring excellent vocals and some seriously depressing yet meaningful lyrics. It’s been four years, but Headspace is finally back by popular demand, I suppose. The new album is called “All That You Fear Is Gone” and is yet again another foray into some seriously meaty subjects, though the music has definitely changed.
On the surface, Headspace seems much the same. The original line-up of Damian Wilson on vocals, Pete Rinaldi on guitars, Adam Wakeman on keyboards, and Lee Pomeroy on bass are all here, and the only change has been the swap of Adam Falkner on drums in for Richard Brook. The band are still sticking to the heavy prog subgenre and are especially focused on very odd time signatures and grooves. The subject matter is also very similar, and is in fact something of a continuation of the story from the first disc. The poor conformist from the first album is back. At the end of “I Am Anonymous”, he had decided to break free from his societal cage to embark on the adventure of self, despite the never-ending cycle of breakdown that this life brings. In this new album, he’s tearing down walls, creating progress with his rebellion.
It’s an interesting subject, for sure. The lyrics are superb once again, whether you agree with their sentiment or not. They are thoughtful and dense with meaning, and they appear to have the purpose of digging down to the essential truths that are at the roots of so many fraudulent monuments in our society today. Should we allow “the man” (for lack of a better term) to define what we love and hold dear, or should we use our heads and hearts to discover and clench those simple truths that might make us appear abnormal or rebellious? Who will be your master?
There are many more thoughts than these, too. The music, in many ways, is just a backdrop to all of this, and I think that’s ultimately for the better. You see, as much as I love Headspace’s hefty riffs and twisting grooves, there just isn’t much of that here this time around. For the most part, the band has really gone soft, as lengthy portions of the album are very mellow, almost acoustic and quiet; all while Damian rambles on (not necessarily a bad thing). In other words, you have to be intensely interested in the lyrics because the badassery here is just not enough to keep most people interested for long. “All That You Fear Is Gone” is definitely not the album I would put on when I feel like headbanging in my car. It’s the album I would start when I want to feel righteous anger against the lies in our society.
That is not to say, though, that the album doesn’t have some great, heavy moments. My favorite track is “Your Life Will Change”, which features a formidable groove that gets into my bones. Another track, “Semaphore”, has a very rich, keyboard-led intro that comes back throughout the song. The same thing goes for “Kill You With Kindness”. Yet, much of the album is more like “Polluted Alcohol”, featuring very little instrumentation and some odd little twist. That track in particular feels like it has a little American South tone to the rhythm. The album ends with “Secular Souls”, a longer track that sorta brings the heavier moments together with the softer ramblings.
And where the music picks up, the performances are definitely great. Lee’s bass is a stand-out here, as are Adam’s drums, and they both serve as the foundation for so much of the music here. I feel like the drums are actually stronger than on the debut. Damian’s vocals are wonderful, if a bit same-y and atonal at times. And Pete’s guitars and Adam’s keys are both on display at time in their magnificence. Wonderful solos abound.
Overall, though, I think “All That You Fear Is Gone” is definitely a weaker album than the debut. It does feel less inspired and a little aimless, and I think they’ll have trouble getting new fans with this offering. However, as a fan from the start, I really enjoy it as the complete experience it is—-lyrics, music, and all. It might get lost in its own focus on lyrical content now and then, but it is an album that should please the fans, for sure.