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The third offering from German thrashers Paradox, “Collision Course,” sees the band return from their hiatus with another in a long line of powerful, full-throttle thrash albums that sees them deliver in a mature, refined nature that is on par with the quality in their catalog.
After the decade-long layover between albums, the group is remarkable competent at maintaining their core sound and drive after all this time as there’s still plenty on display here that was present back in their heyday. It’s full of rampaging guitar riffs that recall the epic intricacies of bay-area styled thrash but spiced with loads of melodies that often make for a power metal band as well, and that was a feature that was not tampered with in their previous albums and is still here, as well as the barreling tempos as the songs range from absolute full-throttle thrash barnburners to more of a mid-tempo groove as well as more laid-back styles that are quite atmospheric and melodic. That all of these features were quite prominent in their previous work makes them all welcome additions here as well, making the music connect more to their fans while attempting to bridge that gap to the new generation. As well, the group’s penchant for eerily melodic-crooned vocals continues here with another impressive performance that brings the songs to life as they soar and climb over the music following the twists and turns in the riffing patterns that come from their stellar rhythm section as the bass absolutely thumps with joyous abandon and the drumming is just a non-stop blast, weaving around plenty of organic fills, tons of intense double-bass movements and keeps the tempo up during the majority of the songs. As mentioned before, all this is found in great supply in their past works.
It’s not so much really an inclusion into their sound, but the fact that the album displays the band undergoing a far more technical approach in the riffing patterns is a big development, as this is basically extended from their previous album but ramped up tenfold based on the kind of stellar riffing presented here. Rather than the typical idea of technicality where it’s over-the-top whirlwinds, sweeps and dive-bombing riffs playing with extreme precision and accuracy, the technicality here is merely a cool way of generating a denser series of riffs based on the main part in the song, allowing for some really intense moments throughout that are just all the more insane because of the different varieties and tones within the song. Also of note is that this technical riffing manages to make the album far more melodic than it really should, all by virtue of the rather simplistic decision of integrating their older power metal riffs the main focus of attention when it descends into the technical realm, so while it’s thrashing away at a quick tempo the technical prowess being undertaken is a lighter, more accessible sound that retains an intense vibe as well, which is quite an accomplished feat that proves the band’s long-displayed ability to write solid, enjoyable songs that are instantly memorable and melodic as well as intense.
The album’s split-up somewhat by comparison between the two sections, with the first half of the album containing more melodic fare. Opener ‘Decade of Sorrow’ is a short, guitar-centered ambient intro that kicks into high-gear with the propulsive title track, which features intense bay-area riffing with large doses of technicality and melody that keep the energy up while dropping their power/speed tag due to the aforementioned technicality, and features a blazing solo as well. The more melodic ‘Rearrange the Past’ features another acoustic intro that gives way to crunchy mid-tempo chug with an ethereal feel due to the strong riffing and steady, solid pacing throughout, becoming a nice highlight effort. ‘Path of Denial’ is the first real thrash song with intense riffing while maintaining a core of bay area thrash dynamics with incorporating traditional power/thrash patterns with a serious of melodic, yet technically-leaning riffs that really deliver the goods quite nicely. ‘Saviour’ is perhaps the finest example of this half of the album as it seems to interject all the efforts into one singular track, as it’s a mid-tempo effort with expansive riffing that doesn’t get any sense of tightness and lacks energy before an impressive final attempt, generating the thrash goods quite nicely.
By contrast, the second half of the album is where all the really meaty, vicious tracks are and where the album really hits its stride. ‘Blamed for Nothing’ contains an intense chugging riff with plenty of grooving vocals, an up-tempo pace and a nice melodic intersection at the end as the twinkling sound emanating through the song comes to full-attention and makes for a perfect breather after the full-scale assault. ‘Prostitution of Society’ starts with an eerie intro that turns into a thrashing mid-tempo groove with plenty of guitar pyrotechnics among the power metal atmosphere rather than the thrash, but overall this is a solid enough track. Next is two similar-sounding back-to-back tracks that are real highlights in the bands discography for their sheer overall thrashing madness, as ‘Shattered Illusions’ and ‘Sadness’ follow along eerily familiar paths together, being ultra-intense and blasting full-throttle thrashers with aggressive charging riffs in an up-tempo atmosphere, blasting drumming and plenty of intricate, powerful solos to create a commanding, powerful presence for a double-shot of awesome speed. Needing a break from that madness is ‘Overshadowed,’ which eases off the full-speed throttle in favor of a melodic-leaning chug with an energetic pace and tempo that’s quite enjoyable and is another solid overall track. It all ends with a rocking, energetic cover of The Scorpions’ Dynamite,’ which attempts to drop the hard-rock feel of the original of incorporating it into the bands’ power/thrash style, and while it misfires on that attempt overall it’s quite impressive if not comparing it to the original to end the album on a solid note.
This is one of the more enjoyable and exciting releases in the thrash scene for a long time and really serves well-enough on that note without the added bonus of it being a comeback record after a decade of silence, so on that front as well this is a strong effort. Containing a memorable infusion of bay-area styled thrash with a technically-infused power/thrash approach they refined back in their early days, this is a real throwback to the glory days of the scene and really doesn’t have too many flaws that’ll hold it down at all, as everything from the songwriting to the performances to the individual achievements and even the production job are superb and really make this a well-rounded and polished effort. This is highly recommended to all fans of the band as well as to those of the style or just plain thrash fanatics who will find plenty to enjoy on this one.
History was not so kind to us, exposing us to the brilliant Paradox sophomore Heresy and then forcing us to wait over a decade for a sequel, but for whatever reasons, that is how it played itself out. Once the 90s were in session, of course, thrash metal had all but died out, many artists simply giving up or releasing pathetic attempts to 'fit in' to the alternative and groove metal trends. Death and black metal wore the genre's armor, with their more excessive levels of energy and disposition, and the German thrash masters who had only so recently exploded into a Renaissance that today remains only rivaled by the Bay Area legends were whispered of only in tight circles of 80s worshiping guitar maniacs and nostalgic blowhards like yours truly.
Around the turn of the century, very few people were expecting to hear from Paradox, and yet in 2000 we were thrown a curve ball when Collision Course suddenly arrived out of the seeming nether. For the most part, this album picks up where Heresy left off, only adding the relative benefits of thicker production. You'll still hear the same flight, explosive guitar work, rooted in both fellow German thrashers like Destruction and a heavy classical influence. Steinhauer had a wider vocal presence here, still reminiscent of frontmen like a Belladonna or Eric AK but with that wonderful bite to it that was both melodic and venomous. If anything, Collision Course is slightly more progressive, the band willing to branch out just an inkling further than the first two records, but then bum rush you with the momentum you would want from the dual guitar team of Steinhauer and Kai Pasemann (the latter replacing Markus Spyth from the first two albums) and the Holzwarth rhythm team.
There's yet another acoustic segue as an intro, "Decade of Sorrow" (perhaps a poorly veiled reference to the decade we just spent sans a new Paradox album). "Collision Course" itself is also worthy of the previous album, and really all the band have exchanged is the lyrical concept from one that concerns religious fugitives to one that concerns us all, here on Mother Earth. Then, like Heresy, Collision Course continues to strike early and strikes hard, with the nearly 8 minute, cautiously thrashing excursion "Rearrange the Past", the spurious momentum of "Path of Denial", and "Blamed for Nothing", a melodic charger with a wealth of smaller, brisk leads and rhythmic shifts that complement the thrashing force. The tranquil "Saviour" and the frenetic "Shattered Illusions" are also worth mentioning, as is the pure bad ass thrashing of "Sadness". "Prostitution of Society" is likewise intense, but not a favorite here, nor did I fall as deeply into the pretty paint-by-numbers riffing of "Overshadowed", but it too does not lack for the band's energetic undercurrent. As a bonus, the band tossed on a cover of the Scorpions' "Dynamite", which they've fused successfully to their hyperactive conventions.
Collision Course is not my personal favorite Paradox album, but it's another notch in the band's quality resume, nearly as strong as its nearest neighbors Heresy or Electrify. It was more than welcome in the year 2000, when I had all but given up on any chance of hearing them again. Most of the songs here are worthwhile, but a few seem to lag behind in the quality of the riffs, or they simply feel redundant to other tracks the band had written by this point. In what seems a bitterly ironic turn of events, it would be another 8 years until we got a fourth Paradox effort, but then at least we got two in a row of superb quality. Collision Course serves as a worthwhile stopgap, a proof that even in its deadest hours, some of the giants of thrash metal were still stirring, still sending us a signal that they have not left us, to prepare ourselves for the genre's inevitable return from silence and suck, the dust whorls being systematically flecked off its rust-proof steel.
This album was released in a time when thrash metal was as good as dead, meaning it might have slipped under the radar of many of you. I am here to inform you that Collision Course is one massive fucking album and should not slip under any radar. Being the comeback album of the very noteworthy Paradox, it not only managed to continue the band's great legacy, but singlehandedly reinvented melodic thrash. It is the heaviest Paradox effort thus far, both in composition and sound. The colossal riffs will knock you off your chair and leave you on the ground begging for mercy, which will be granted during extensive parts of instrumental (at times even acoustic) noodling. Don't make any illusions about fully recovering, because the solo's are equally impressive and it never takes long before another monstrous riff pops up to attack and threaten you with severe whiplash syndromes.
And that's only talking about the thrash parts. As we could have expected from Paradox, most songs have crushingly 'epic' intros, preparing the listener for a pending rampage of riffs. “Blamed For Nothing”, “Collision Course” and “Shattered Illusion” can easily be counted among the band's best songs ever, while “Path Of Denial” is my all-time personal Paradox favorite. Those of you familiar with the band realize this is saying quite a lot. There is however one downside, and that's a tad too much aimless material that doesn't seem to go anywhere. Barring the magnificent songs, there are also many sections or even entire songs that are just 'ok', and don't do much to me. With the album clocking in at almost an hour, these parts would have gotten rid of if it were up to me. “Prostitution Of Society” or “Rearrange The Past” are two of such songs that -even though they contain some great sections- simply drag too long.
Stylistically this album could be compared to releases as Ride The Lightning or Rust In Peace, except heavier. The unique vocals don't really compare to any other band and sometimes even come close to melodic talking. Not once are they on the foreground, leaving enough room for the excellent musicianship to fully shine. The production is absurdly tight, which unfortunately can't be said about their 80s releases, Heresy and Product of Imagination. There is also less power/speed metal to be found here, making it the thrashiest Paradox album ever. All in all this is a first-rate album by a first-rate band, which should be put on the first spot of your wishlist. This band has always stayed true to themselves without falling into repetition and should be applauded for this, so get your ass to the record store and buy this behemoth of an album.
Every once in a while an album is released which will leave you completely dumbfounded with its headbanging qualities. The sound grabs your attention so mercilessly you won’t be able to put it down for months to come and it gets better and better with each listen. Collision Course, a delight from start to finish, is one such album.
Greatness isn’t unfamiliar to Paradox as they are famous for making two extremely solid (thrashy) speed-metal albums back in the 80s. They had a good sense of melody, excellent riffs, and better than average songwriting. Collision Course is a comeback album (being eleven years since they made Heresy) and the band is back with a vengeance, sporting an updated, modern sound; it’s heavier and more technical than before, and the songwriting has taken on almost a progressive shade. Gone are the somewhat one-dimensional songs of the past – the songwriting tends to be a complex affair with many-a-songs-in-one so to speak.
This is one of my ultimate albums as the band manages to successfully mix all those ingredients I love; it’s melodic, catchy, heavy, thrashy and speedy, with consistent and varied songwriting. ‘Saviour’ is an example of some of that complex songwriting I was talking about, as the song moves from an acoustic intro to intense riffing and calmer passages. ‘Collision Course’, perhaps the most traditional song on the album, is fast and furious.
‘Path of Denial’ is an incredibly thrashy song which will make you wondering what cover of Dark Angel this is. ‘Prostitution of Society’ with its great leadwork sets the mood for the story being told. The opening (and reoccurring) riff in ‘Sadness’ is impressive, keeping you intrigued for the remainder of the song. As the song picks up you ask yourself just how much better it can get…
One of the things i love most about the album is the mood and atmosphere. Think Iced Earth’s Burnt Offerings or Vio-lence’s Nothing to Gain. It’s dark, but mature and serious at the same time. It’s an intriguing sound, not to be taken lightly. The band plays like they mean it, which is the way it should be.
This is fucking metal, that’s all i can say... this is fucking metal...