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Paradox has seen a lot of changes in line-up for an act that has only put out five full length releases total including this one. Formed back in 1986, the band release two full lengths back-to-back, then didn't release their third full length for almost eleven years. Another eight years they would release their previous effort Electrify, and now about a year later they release their latest album, Riot Squad (with the States getting it in early 2010 making the wait longer). It has been said that this release has been five years in the making, and given the lack of recordings from the band in these years it shouldn't take you by surprise. And to make a descriptive answer short, yes, it was worth the wait.
Riot Squad really doesn't hold anything back, much like the band's previous releases, keeping in the vain of the early Speed and Thrash sound that has been making it's comeback as of late, comparable to releases by bands like Sodom and Judas Priest. Right from the start with "Suburban Riot Squad", the album takes on a very menacing form with intense guitars and drums with some rather Power Metal-oriented vocals thrown in for good measure. This track may be a bit too much to take in at first, possibly even "Hollow Peace", but after the album gets going, you'll get some great enjoyment out of it on later listens. The flow of Riot Squad starts to change up a bit around the time of "Riptide", which finds some more melodic elements brought into the punishing guitar work, causing the music to veer a bit more towards the Heavy Metal and Thrash Metal side of music. "Rise in Rank" is where you will see this the most though, as the album continue to evolve, but fans of Annihilator may notice that some of the guitars used sound very close to some of the material off of Waking The Fury, or even current Kreator workings, before it takes a life of it's own.
Musically, Riot Squad is a very intense musical experience. However, the only real drawback to this release stems from the vocals. It's hard to sit back and listen to this release with such clean vocals that, at times, seem as if the vocalist isn't even trying. If the band had incorporated some harsher vocals into the mix, perhaps even a gutteral or two here and there on certain tracks, which a good majority of them leave ample room for thanks to the intensity, then there would have been a whole other level to the release. Another option the band could have had was using harsher vocals behind the clean vocals for emphasis to add some extra bite. Sadly none of this was done, which causes plenty of the tracks on here to feel as if there was more that could have been done with them.
The best thing about this album is that from start to finish, it feels like the album is honestly maturing and mutating as you progress through it. If you listen to "Suburban Riot Squad", the most intense track on this recording, and then check out "Nothingness" you wouldn't really notice anything. But, if you listen to every song in order up to "Nothingness", you hear a transition from unbridled music rebellion to matured and restricted technical material. This, if nothing else, is the most enjoyable aspect of this release since everything on here is made to feel organic to this point. "No Place to Survive" breaks this natural flow to go back into a heavier and much more intense musical sound much like that of "Riptide" or "Rise in Rank" and it just continues from there, and then goes into a small cluster of tracks that are meerly ok. "Dream Hero" is alright until it nears the end of the song and the vocals start to get a little stale against the music, and then "Planet Terror", another good song, just feels a bit drawn out.
When it comes right down to it, Riot Squad is an amazing album by Paradox and well worth your hard earned money. The only drawbacks to the album would be the latter tracks "Dream Hero" and "Planet Terror" lacking in quality, as well as the sometimes ill-fitting clean vocals. If you want something that is heavy enough that it's going to crush you right from the start, then look no further then this release. There's plenty of material here that will make you want to start your own circle pit wherever you may be, regardless of age, sex, or amount of people nearby that you can drag into the pit with you.
Originally posted on Apoch's Metal Review