Paradox – Heresy II: End of A Legend (AFM Records)Wednesday, 13th October 2021
Rumors abound years back when preparing for the follow up to 2012’s Tales of the Weird album that German act Paradox would release a sequel to their second record Heresy, one of their iconic records in their discography from 1990. Alas, we had to wait until 2021 for reality to strike for Heresy II: End of a Legend, but the meticulous care and effort should pay dividends for the listeners as this is a mammoth undertaking. Prepare to process thirteen tracks and over seventy-five minutes of music, as founding guitarist/vocalist Charly Steinhauer assembles a killer lineup of players (drummer Alex Blaha, bassist Olly Keller, and second guitarist Christian Münzner) plus previous Heresy lyricist Peter Vogt add to the 13th century Catholic Church crusade storyline from a fictional perspective.
Those unfamiliar with Paradox style-wise should enjoy a power/speed template, full of relentless riffs, equally fast vocal melodies, and the occasional moody mid-tempo transitions to set up specific twists and turns – as well as engaging / fluid solo mechanics. Think Metallica at the height of their powers during Ride the Lightning / Master of Puppets, along with a bit of Metal Church, Testament, and Annihilator. Massive downpicking that maintains a jackhammer precision becomes the norm – although there are sequences of slow evolving guitar harmonies and haunting clean axe work that add in a classic, traditional vibe (check out the nine-minute plus “A Meeting of Minds” for this aspect). Religious chanting and ambiance come in for the “Unholy Conspiracy” shorter interlude to set up the crunchy headbanger “A Man of Sorrow (Prologue)”, one of the catchiest Paradox tracks here, Charly using a bit more of his lower register in a soothing, melodic manner. There is a lot of musical information to dive into, absorb, and process – so favorites can change by the day. The fire effects and keyboard accents to the clean guitars soon give way to a grand electric start for “Escape from the Burning” – the opener containing all the right stop/start rhythms, steady drumming, and supporting chorus/lead work that speed/thrash devotees champion, while “Children of a Virgin” has the proper gallop and galvanizing spirit to be another propelling arrangement, layers of voices and music working in tandem to tantalize as if in mid-80’s glory years.
Add in a Travis Smith artwork that is equally chilling and mysterious and most will be satisfied that Paradox has created a proper sequel that has the benefit of modern technology at its disposal but not necessarily chained to its lack of human feel coming across in these performances. German speed/power/thrash at its finest here.