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The second full-length from German power/thrash combo Paradox, “Heresy,” sees the band develop their style even more than their previous effort and have hone themselves into a tight, cohesive and destructive package that was signaled from the beginning and showcases an evolution quite effectively.
While there is a noticeable difference here with one element of the band’s sound coming into focus, on the whole this is really no different from their debut. Far from the typical German thrash band of incorporating a dirty, heavy guitar sound that formed a basis for early black metal, the compositions here are far lighter and more melodic, leaning more to the traditional/power metal side of the spectrum and even recalling many of the US-styled power metal bands at the time. As a result, the band is almost a speed metal band playing traditional heavy metal covers with its light and easy-to-absorb leanings, and it gets far more prevalent as the album continues on with a bit of diversity here, some songs tending to focus on an intense and aggressive riff while others opt for a quieter and melodic feel. While this is not a band that delves in the slower side of the melodic spectrum, instead the hyper-speed style on display here, mainly propelled by the furious thunder of the drums that never seem to slow or back off all that much, allows the melodic side of the band to come through and dominate the proceedings with devastating effect that keeps the songs imminently listenable and infectious. As well, the vocals never have any of the viciousness or snarl of the typical thrash singer and remain of a more melodic nature, again a definite product of their past and makes the songs all the more appealing.
As alluded to earlier, there is a minor difference here in the band that makes this one so much more appealing than its predecessor and yet never feels like it’s been a stylistic flavor that was added or removed solely for this release. Whereas the debut had a tone and feel to it that was eerily reminiscent of USPM from the mid-to-late 80s, here the band sounds more like the bay area style of thrash than ever before and might be mistaken to be a proponent of that format if one’s not paying close enough attention. The main genesis for this is the increased favoring of technical thrash riffing in favor of the simplistic speed-metal offerings on the debut, which when mixed together in the final product was almost first-generation German power metal. There’s a definite crunch and chug amongst the guitars that has a tone and style straight from the scene and has little-to-none of the power metal atmosphere present on the first release, as the technically-advanced riffing that crawls all over the tracks here enables such comparisons to be made. As this was a feature found on the first record in minor patches throughout that record, to see the evolution carry into here with such spectacular results is a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
Being that there’s a lot to like here in the music, the songs themselves are immensely enjoyable. The title track starts things off with a haunting acoustic intro that gives way to pounding technical-laced speed-metal thrashing that signals the bands’ evolution right off the bat with it’s more involving riffing making it so memorable and enjoyable. ‘Search for Perfection’ contains even more technical riffing coupled with melodic choruses and some sterling solos in an up-tempo pace that’s wholly enjoyable, making for another highlight offering. The album’s best song, ‘Killtime,’ might seem out-of-place as it’s a return to the melodic speed metal from their debut, but is still filled with intense and technical riffing with some memorable melodic choruses that seem to gel so cohesively with the riffing that it’s absolutely infectious and memorable throughout, remaining the only link back to their past amongst the material here. ‘Crusaders Revenge’ returns to more typical fare with an aggressive riffing intro that’s mixed with blazing and intense thrash with a spectacular solo section highlighted by pounding drums to create another strong track. The minor amount of experimental elements found here belong to ‘The Burning,’ with acoustic guitars bookend some amazing technical riffing with a mid-tempo pace and lots of melodic leanings to make for a unique experience amongst the traditional-leaning thrash. Another highlight, ‘Massacre of the Cathars,’ has more blazing riffs and up-tempo pace combine into a thrashing maelstrom of melodic-leaning thrash that’s far more destructive than possible. The charging ‘Serenity’ is an absolute barnburner featuring an up-tempo pace with frenetic riffing and melodic choruses with technical solos and amazing sense of grandeur that might be the second-best track on the album overall. The technically-proficient ‘700 Years On’ is where the band really lets loose with its complex riffing intentions with some of the most challenging and intense patterns in their career yet never forgets to stay with a melodic touch within their music to keep it all memorable and accessible, while the short instrumental ‘Castle in the Wind’ ends it all with a melancholy acoustic guitar fluttering away.
There’s no doubt this is overall quite impressive and immensely enjoyable, as the band is coming into a style all their own with a technical-laced combination of melodic thrash and power metal that is insanely addictive at times and devastating at others. While this mix might not be for the majority of thrash fans due to it’s increased sense of melody and memorable hooks that are favored over the lack of aggressive and more intense thrash at the time which might account for the lengthy down-time between albums, but this is still too catchy and enjoyable not to be ignored by the masses out there. It’s definitely enjoyable enough for most thrash fans to give it a look as there’s no shortage of good stuff here, and definitely those not into the more up-front and vicious thrash might also want to give this a chance, but really there’s no reason why this can’t be looked into by most for it’s that good at what it does.