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A clear improvement - 87%

Andreas_Hansen, January 19th, 2018

"Heresy" is probably Paradox's most famous album. It came out two years after "Product of Imagination". It is a concept album relating the Albigensian Crusade, a war proclaimed by Pope Innocent III that lasted from 1209 to 1229. The objective was to remove Catharism from Languedoc, in Southern France, a religion considered as a heresy by the Papal States. Today, this album remains the band's best selling and ends an "early-years era" of two albums (with the first one) in which the band was focusing more on technical and thrash riffs rather than melody, just like Heathen or Metallica. This album appears to be an improved copy of its predecessor, the global thrash sonorities sounding very similar. If I liked the previous album but not that much, "Heresy" convinced me much more. I still do not love it, but the band showed through it clear improvements, especially in the singing and in the coherence of the different parts of the songs.

The album starts the same way as its predecessor, by a double-sided vinyl which has an introduction on both sides, "Heresy" for the A side and "The Burning" for the other. By the way, these intros are quite similar. The album starts and ends the same way: by acoustic guitar melodies. The very firsts seconds of "Heresy" are played by one of the most beautiful acoustic guitar intros I've ever heard, with melodic yet very technical notes that foreshadow slowly the upcoming album. The acoustic guitar has its own track, the very last one, the instrumental "Castle in the Wind", in the same vein as the intro of "Heresy" but that leaves me much more dissatisfied because more chaotic, almost experimental. I would qualify it as "convoluted" because it never goes through with their ideas. Each riff starts quite well but never really ends and are replaced by new ones, with a blowing wind background. It is quite a strange way to conclude an album though judicious regarding the instruments (actually the instrument).

Just as "Product of Imagination", the album alternates between technical and speed riffs with more cohesion. We have, from one side, technical mid-tempo songs such as "Search for Perfection", "The Burning", "Massacre of the Cathars" and Serenity, and from the other hand high-tempo songs like "Heresy", "Killtime", "Crusader's Revenge" and "Seven Hundred Years On". We also notice the improvement in the melodies, with much more emotions and sense, though we cannot fully consider this album as being "power metal" (according to me). Therefore melodic intros are frequent, whatever the type of guitar it can be ("Heresy", "Search for Perfection", "Killtime", "The Burning", "Castle in the Wind") and less thrashy parts aren't rare as well (the acoustic guitar interlude of "Heresy", the melodic verses of "Search for Perfection", the excellent verse riff of "Killtime", the nice main riff of "Massacre of the Cathars", the global pace of "Serenity" or the beautiful solo in "700 Years On".

As announced in the intro, the structure of this album is much more conscientious, and we can notice a better coherence between the parts of every song, which wasn't really present on "Product of Imagination". Therefore, "Heresy" does a series of nice riffs and the different parts of the song quickly one after another and this also applies to "The Burning", "Massacre of the Cathars" and "700 Years On". The only default here is "Crusaders Revenge". Though this is a technical and speed song, it remains quite chaotic.

The speed and technical solos are the trademarks of this band. They are much more present, more diversified and more elaborate than the ones on the previous full-length. It is quite frequent to find songs in which solos alternate between extreme technicity and slow melody right after. Songs featuring excellent solos might include "Heresy", "Killtime", "The Burning", "Massacre of the Cathars" and "700 Years On", probably the best.

In conclusion, this album is totally better than the previous one in terms of riffing, soloing, singing and especially coherence and internal structures. With such an impressive amount of riffs and solos, we can almost consider this album as progressive, but still not power! The reason is the sonorities are way too aggressive, too thrashy, too typical of the 80's thrash metal sound. The only default of this album is it tends to highlight too much the guitar skills of Charly, neglecting the bass and the drum plays, which are sadly almost nonexistent.

After the release of this album and its success, the band stopped its activity for eleven years and came back in 2000 with a strongly different album, their first "power metal" one, with fewer thrash sounds and more melodies in the singing, "Collision Course".

Originally written in French for Tunes of Steel.
https://tunesofsteel.wordpress.com