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Detached from the laws of reality. - 95%

hells_unicorn, August 24th, 2010

There’s music that is meant to be heard, there is music that is meant to be experienced, and then there is Paul Chain’s music. To put it plainly, his unique blend of archaic rock, psychedelic atmosphere, church choir ambiences and Sabbath influenced doom metal lay somewhere in between the realm of what is heard and what is otherwise experienced. The style that drives the spirit of this music is definitely identifiable to anyone who is immersed in the mysticism of Pentagram, Trouble, Sleep and others of the emerging scene of the early to mid 80s, but where usually a few little nuances make these acts distinct, Paul Chain has staked out territory all his own with an extremely exaggerated variant of the sub-genre that has lost none of its mystique in the passing decades.

As far as where to go in seeking a starting point in Chain’s lengthy discography, the obvious choice is right here in Violet Theatre’s first EP “Detaching From Satan”, which seems to be an ironic way of pushing away from his past with the pioneering Italian metal outfit Death SS. Whereas in his previous music with his former band the stylistic conventions of his sound were not wholly defined, this stands as the first in a fairly consistent display of outlandish songs that bridge the gap between 1969 and 1984. The metallic elements are on clear display in the guitar work, which leans heavily towards the crunchy, rhythmically precise character of the same NWOBHM style that would be brought up to light speed by Dave Mustaine and James Hetfield, but with a tiny bit more of a swampy tone to keep the predominant influence of Tony Iommi and, to a lesser extent, Jimi Hendrix, in much the same way that said 60s icon’s noise driven, all over the place live performances influenced Dave Chandler.

Although the presentation of the traditional rock/metal instrumentation of drums, bass and guitars are fairly orthodox, save the frenzied and noisy approach to soloing, it’s in the other elements present where this album and much of Paul Chain’s later works come into their own. Somewhere between the frequent references to spacey keyboard ambiences, church organs, choral themes and the effects drenched, echo heavy vocal tracking, each song found on here is transported back and forth between multiple time periods in music history so rapidly that these songs almost listen like they are functioning in multiple universes. Words can not really describe these songs, and oddly enough, Paul agrees as the vocals heard on here a simply a collection of phonetic sounds. Paul’s vocal style is pretty clean by rock standards, almost to the point of channeling Ozzy Osbourne circa “Sabotage” while filtering out his nasally tendencies and occasional slurred words. But lyrics or no lyrics, the storytelling going on in the music is sufficient to tell a number of differing tales of madness, mysticism, and the outer limits of the human imagination.

No matter how many times these songs are heard, there is always something new to be gained from them. It’s one of those few instances where a band’s sound can be intentionally inaccessible yet be welcoming to a good number of potential adherents. This is definitely a metal album, and yet it could just as easily appeal to old school Led Zepplin and Iron Butterfly fans who might find Black Sabbath’s debut album just a little too dark and forbidding for their post-hippie sensibilities. It has enough musical hooks to be listener friendly, but more than enough other stuff going on to pass for a doom metal equivalent of meditation music. Forget about the Grateful Dead, forget LSD, and forget graveyard vigils, if you want a long strange trip, try listening to this all alone at 2am.