Paragon – Controlled Demolition (Massacre Records)Friday, 3rd May 2019
Purveyors of traditional power/speed metal since the early 1990’s, German act Paragon remain a relatively unknown entity stateside, as they’ve been on European labels like B.O. Records, Remedy Records, and Massacre for most of their career – sneaking in a Napalm Records release for 2012 with Force of Destruction. Cut from the cloth of 70’s and 80’s metal, both stateside and European influences come front and center on their 12th studio record Controlled Demolition – ideally becoming a diverse assembly of material that can be heavy and thrashy at times, while striding valiantly into familiar traditional/power grounds when called for as well.
Double kick tempos and a wall of rhythm guitars designated for mandatory headbanging carry the workload for vocalist Andreas Babuschkin to deliver his unique, Teutonic melodies (think Grave Digger meets early Metal Church for comparison’s sake) – giving “Abattoir” early praise as the lead break extols the value of spirited NWOBHM bluesy, melodic tenacity. Breaking up the speedier arrangements with straightforward Accept/Judas Priest-like offerings makes “Mean Machine” and “Blackbell” two efforts where fists should fly to the sky, uniting audience and musicians during the catchy choruses. An 8:28 epic such as “Deathlines” allows all the musicians to showcase a bit more of their musical abilities in extended fashion, incorporating narrative elements, acoustic guitars and a faster second half where the guitarists Günny Kruse and Jan Bertram choose to wail a bit on their wah-wah pedals for a roller-coaster aural experience. There’s an added dash of speed and thrash sense to many songs, possibly channeling some of those Agent Steel/Overkill textures during “Reborn” and “Musangwe (B.K.F.)”, pumping up the adrenaline at various points.
Keeping the sound very direct allows Controlled Demolition easy opportunity for listeners to ingest this material instantly – and discover more nuances through repeated airings. In terms of their catalog, it’s probably the strongest effort since Law of the Blade – and sure to appease people who are looking for some tried and true power/speed metal with choruses and melodies that are tough as steel.