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Too much of a good thing can be a double-edged sword - 80%

Empyreal, December 2nd, 2019
Written based on this version: 2019, Digital, Massacre Records

It’s taken me a long time to really nail down why some modern metal acts tended to bore me, and it’s not just about the samey nature of the songwriting. It’s also about production values. I feel like after a while, too many bands and albums having the exact same sound becomes boring. In this case it’s the Piet Sielck sound, cultivated in the late 90s and refined by now into an almost ironclad brand among melodic European bands with harder edges. It’s the razor-blade, machine-gun like production, and the gang shout choruses, all of that stuff. It’s a great sound, but after decades now, hearing albums that all sound the same has become kind of moribund and almost pointless to me.

All of this isn’t to say Paragon’s new album is bad. I actually really enjoy these guys – they’ve always been my pick of the litter when it comes to this brand of power/speed stuff with bushels full of riffs. This is actually, probably, their best one of their recent run of albums. They keep to the simple, Accept/Saxon/Priest style, with militaristic, thrashing riffs and fiery melodies and Andreas Babuschkin’s gruff, easily recognizable vocals and the razor-wire bass. The songs are based around loud, anthemic choruses pretty much tailor-made for sing-alongs, and the energy level is through the roof. It’s good workout music – brawling, gruff, meat-head-ish music built on pounding riffs.

The first few tracks are solid, though they do grow on you after a few plays. But after the eight-minute epic “Deathlines,” things kick into gear with a kick-ass run of songs. “Musangwe,” “Timeless Souls,” “Blackbell” and the fantastic, gleeful slaying steel of “The Enemy Within” are probably the band’s best works, or at least on par with the classic stuff they did in the early ‘00s. Just killer tunes. “Black Widow” has some vaguely misogynistic lyrics that are pretty lame, but it’s whatever really.

But I just don’t feel the need to play it that often. I asked myself why. I think it’s really just because of the homogeneous nature of all of Paragon’s work and all of the other similar bands. It’s great while it’s on, but I’m just beat on this particular production style and sound. I feel like the really great acts are always trying new things and changing it up. Too much of the same thing is never good. After a while you just get filled up on a certain package of sound, because it's like it just comes off a factory line somewhere, as opposed to being genuine artistic choices. As much as I enjoy Controlled Demolition while it’s on, I just wish I was more excited about it overall.