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Wicked Mystic > The Paramount Question > Reviews
Wicked Mystic - The Paramount Question

The Paramount Question is “Where is the love for this album?” - 90%

Zod, December 27th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2001, CD, Rokarola Records

"The Paramount Question" is a melding of progressive metal, thrash, hard rock, and flamenco, with great duel guitar work and great vocals. As the band name would suggest, this release has some melodic thrash influences from Annihilator. I can also hear bits of Exodus or Metal Church in their sound.

Most of the songs are mid-paced, occasionally breaking out into a fast thrash beat although rarely. They use lots of great guitar techniques to create different atmospheric textures. It's also a bit unusual for a band this thrashy to feature so many vocal harmonies. Wicked Mystic are clearly looking outside the normal conventions of metal music while still being able to play real metal as well as most anyone. Melodic basslines complement the schitzo guitar work. Wicked Mystic isn’t as focused on flashy solos as some other bands, and it's mainly the rhythms that capture most of the attention. The vocalist is quite competent with some grit in the delivery at times. I will say though that some songs are a bit too long and "widdly-widdly" on the guitars.

My favorite tracks here are "Shadow Dancer", "The Paramount Question", and "Stand Alone". The title track is an excellent moody ballad. “Doubt” is a weak track and should’ve been omitted to leave a stronger overall album impression. Hidden track 11 is a metal cover version of “Pinball wizard”. “Welcome to Life” is a weaker cut too. The album makes you weary before it is done, trimming off a few tracks would’ve helped a great deal. This album ends with a dud where it could’ve been strong all-throughout.

This album might appeal to fans of Annihilator "Set the World on Fire".

Unquestionable Mystical Presence - 91%

bayern, August 16th, 2017

Wicked Mystic were the last of the mohicans from a steady, long chain of progressive thrash metal acts from The Netherlands, one that was started in the late-80’s and lasted all the way to the dawn of the new millennium. Although compared to the flood of outfits pouring over the scene at the beginning, by the late-90’s this downpour had turned to mere trickling, a solitary effort here (Voices’ “This Mass of Confusion”, 1997), an isolated endeavour there (Tefilla’s “Grievous Anguish”, 1998)… our “mystics” here occupy both ends of the line, the only formation to have survived for so long, having started with the pioneers at the beginning of the 90’s, putting themselves on the official release map with the “Mend or End” EP in 1994, a decent hard-hitting compromise between the old and the new school with shouty angry vocals.

However, it wasn’t until 2000 when their full-length debut came out. There wasn’t much left from the aggro, edgy delivery of old, a change that had already come with a new performer behind the mike, Remko Roes, a passionate clean, high-strung tenor who suited much better the updated old school approach which now also included quite a bit of power metal into the more flexible thrash frame. There’s quite a diversity on offer here, one that recalls Flotsam & Jetsam’s “When the Storm Comes Down”, only better constructed and much better produced, with a striking similarity between the two bands in the vocal department, but you have to think Eric A.K.’s early, more emotional, higher-pitched style. Said style is very well fitting to the excellent blitzkrieg “Stand Alone” which also boasts great melodic leads, before “Shadow Dancer” brings more lyrical power metal aesthetics to the fore, also assisted by several nice flamenco guitar motifs. More furious speed/thrashing with “Depths of Mind”, a standout progressive cut with surprises at every corner including a few vigorous gallops alongside atmospheric quieter insertions. Speed won’t be the dominant force here, though, as evident from the crisp mid-pacer “Bleeding My Soul” and the balladic title-track, but one can’t deny the successful blends of sharp riffage and introspective serenity that “Chronic Remorse” is.

A few unmitigated grooves intercept the energetic rhythms on “Stepped Out”, and “Diversity” very nicely captures all this album is about, and not only with the title, serving an amazing chorus and quite a few impetuous thrashing crescendos, not to mention the virtuous lead sections again. A masterpiece of thought-out, beautifully constructed progressive metal followed by the more immediate shredder “Mind-Bomb” which attempts a few inspired headbanging passages. The latter are totally missing from “Doubt”, a really cool heavy ballad with Roes making a spell-binding performance, “duelling” with the lead guitarist who pretty much hits the top, too, with a superb exhibition of guitar wizardry in the second half. The Who cover of “Pinball Wizard” comes next, and one shouldn’t have too many complaints here as the guys make the track their own with vigorous thrashy rhythms without completely stealing the song’s identity, and without completely overshadowing “Welcome to Life”, a heavy semi-balladic stomper.

It seemed like an impressive new beginning for the band, and at the very right time when the retro metal canons were rising again on the way to full restoration. Dutch metal needed this boost on the thrash front since apart from Dead Head, who were making irregular circles “courting” both the old and the new school, the ever-reliant Occult (later Legion of the Damned) and the thrash/death hybriders Thanatos, there weren’t too many practitioners to raise the thrash metal flag high. After the once promising Form disappointed with their sophomore “Shock Corridor”, abandoning their potent classic delivery for banal, rehashed post-thrashy grooves, Wicked Mystic almost fell in the same trap two years later with “Lithium”, an opus that was more of a nod to the 90’s, but done in a more convincing, more atmospheric, but also thrashier manner: think The Flotsam’s “Quatro” rather than Forbidden’s “Distortion”.

And that was it; the band called it quits after these two instalments. Their participation in the old school resurrection campaign resumed in 2011, and the third “charm” “Beware & Whisper” wasn’t late to appear, another sure-handed entry into the guys’ discography, classic progressive thrash executed with verve and panache, only without Roes; the early vocalist Johan Godschalk re-joined his comrades, and although one may mourn the absence of the previous more highly-strung throat, there are hardly any reasons for the fans to worry about the future of the metal audience’s favourite “mystics”.