Paradox are back with a follow on to their classic album Heresy, here’s what Gareth thinks…
Let me take you back 800 years or so, to a time when a controversial religious order, the Cathars, was gaining power and a foothold in France, but was starting to become problematic to the Catholic church, the practitioners were regarded as heretics and their order was petitioned against by Pope Innocent III, to King Philip II of France and after this successful petition, the Cathars over a 20 year military campaign, were persecuted, tortured, massacred and eventually wiped out. Moving forward 770 odd years and German band Paradox released their sophomore album ‘Heresy’, a concept album about the ” Albigensian Crusade”, a relatively unknown, but very respected release for those in the know.
Now finally, we come back to the present day, and Paradox are about to release their 8th studio album: ‘ Heresy II: End of a Legend’, which, if you haven’t spotted it, is the long in the making sequel. It’s always a bit of a risk when bands follow up a seminal piece of work with a follow-up, Not only is it immediately open to scrutiny, to its predecessor, but if handled incorrectly, you run the risk of actually lessening the original, Operation: Mindcrime II anyone!!? No need to worry, anyone who has listened to Paradox over their career will know that they only release quality albums, with the last two ‘Tales in a Weird World’ and ‘Pangea’ being of particularly high quality.
So how does part 2 measure up. Well obviously, being written and recorded 31 years apart, and only having two of the same members, main man Charly Steinhuer, on vocals and guitar, and returning drummer Axel Blaha (who incidentally last appeared on part 1) there are bound to be some differences. However, the consistency that has been achieved is very impressive. The original ‘Heresy’ had one of the best productions of its era, and so with modern recording techniques it’s not surprising that the new record is better, its similar, modern yet reminiscent, a bit beefier in the guitars and the whole mix being more even, with every instrument having its own space in the overall soundscape. Charly’s vocals are a bit gruffer, but he still has a clear and powerful voice.
For people who aren’t familiar with Paradox, they occupy the more melodic end of the thrash spectrum, even straddling into the power metal genre. Saying that, this is more in the vocals than the riffing, which can be quite ferocious at times, although the guitar work can also be very intricate and much more symphonic than your typical meat and potato thrash band.
Lyrically and musically, this starts where the original left off, opener ‘Escape from the Burning’ is a future live classic, with a suitably epic opening before building into a real riff fest, with high energy passages and a catchy chorus. The two already released singles are up next, the fierce ‘Mountains and Caves’ and the brutal ‘The Visitors’, both with driving riffs and pummelling rhythms, where lead guitarist Christian Münzner gets to show his worth, with some fantastic interplay with Charly. The whole album runs over 75 mins, so there’s certainly value for money and if you like to really get your teeth into the lyrics and music, you certainly won’t be disappointed. ‘A Meeting of Minds’ and ‘The Great Denial’ are both longer, more progressive and involved tracks, with slower parts and quieter aspects. Whereas ‘Priestly Vows’ and ‘Unholy Conspiracy’ show the thrashier and more aggressive side of the band. That said at 75 min, I think they could have shaved at least 10 mins from the overall length, and this would have tightened up the outcome.
This is a worthy successor to the original ‘Heresy’ release, and I think fans of that album will be very pleased with ‘Heresy II’. If you’ve heard Paradoxpreviously and didn’t like them, there’s really not much here that is going to alter that opinion. Will it pull in new fans? Well possibly, this album will hopefully be better marketed and advertised than the original. A very solid and competent release that ensures that Paradox still don’t have a duffer in the discography.
Paradox – Heresy II: End of a Legend was released on the 24/09 on AFM Records