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Wednesday 10 June 2020

Reviews: Paralydium, Behold...The Arctopus, House Of Lords, Denied (Matt & Rich)

Paralydium: Worlds Beyond (Frontiers Records) [Matt Bladen]

Previously known as The Paralydium Project and formed as an off-shoot of Dynazty their debut EP in 2015 was well received by progressive metal fans so it was only time that they would be releasing a full length record so five years later they have signed to Frontiers Records to unleash a full length on the world. Now lets get this out of the way, there aren't too many elongated flights of fancy here, like so many other prog metal bands *cough* Dream Theater *cough* their longest songs are 7 odd minutes which means that they never fall into blatant fret-wankery, not that founding member guitarist John Berg doesn't play with as much conviction of Pagan's Mind's Jørn Viggo Lofstad, Symphony X's Michael Romeo or ol' John Petrucci himself in fact his guitar chops and intricate solos provide the main part of all these songs. 

He's duelling with Mikael Blanc's keys on Within The Sphere while bringing the riffage with Georg Härnsten Egg (drums) and Jonathan Olsson (bass) before it gets more melodic in the later period even featuring some tasty classical guitar in the middle. Now I mentioned the likes of Symphony X, Pagan’s Mind and Dream Theater earlier in the review and these are the major bands that influence Paralydium along with fellow Swedes Seventh Wonder, especially on numbers like Finding The Paragon which has that definite Seventh Wonder electronic fizz and lashings of keyboard/guitar duels. I haven't mentioned the vocals of Mikael Sehlin but he too is a very accomplished singer with a soulful delivery that gives these multi-faceted, extremely musically dexterous songs a rapport with the more melodic minded audiences who don't indulge in prog metal usually. You can hear this on the poppier tones of The Source and the throbbing Into Divinity.

With lots of little nuances in these tracks to keep you guessing, incredible musicianship throughout and little of the beard stroking self-indulgence that can sometimes come with the genre, Worlds Beyond is one of the best prog metal albums of the year if you love deeply melodic but heavy progressive metal with hints of power metal, edm and djent throughout then, I implore you to seek out Paralydium and Worlds Beyond. 9/10  

Behold...The Arctopus: Hapaleptic Overtrove (Willotip Inc) [Rich Oliver]

There is an unwritten rule book for what defines metal. Usually but not always it means downtuned guitar riffs, technical guitar solos and a pounding rhythm section. It is not always adhered to and there are bands out there who want to stretch what can be termed as metal and take the genre into unexplored and experimental territories. Behold...The Arctopus are one such band in that they take this unwritten metal rulebook and tear it to absolute shreds.

The music on Hapaleptic Overtrove is to put it mildly an absolute headfuck. The standard tropes of the metal sound are all but eliminated with the compositional style having more in common with free jazz and seemingly having a very improvisational nature. The instruments played by the band members also tap into this experimental nature with guitarist Colin Marston playing a Warr guitar which is a tapped instrument with the range of both a guitar and a bass. Drummer Jason Bauers reinvents metal drumming here not playing a steady rhythm or a beat but using the kit as a purely percussive instrument. The hi-hats, crashes, and ride cymbals have been replaced with almglocken, wooden plank, metal pipe, broken stacks and bell/chimes whilst mallets are used instead of sticks. 

The drums are really the star of the show on the album with Jason performing stunning percussive compositions rather than rhythms which perfectly compliment and enhance the abstract playing of the instruments. When it comes to the guitars there is not a riff to be heard on the album with the guitars playing dissonant collections of notes with random widdling and the creation of atmospheric soundscapes. There are songs such as Adult Contemporary and Hapaleptic Perspective Respect which are just completely offbeat and abrasive compositions whilst songs such as Other Realms and Perverse. Esoteric. Different delve far more into the atmospheric having moments which sound like the soundtrack to some avant-garde cinema.

Behold...The Arctopus have truly a unique album here. It is pointless trying to compare it to anything and it certainly sounds unlike any heavy music record I have previously heard. Its forward thinking and experimental nature can only be applauded but it might be too much for most listeners. This is very much a niche and leftfield record that will only appeal to a minority but I think that’s the way Behold...The Arctopus would like it. With my tastes being based in the traditional styles of heavy metal this was a completely bewildering listen and although there was plenty I took away from this it is probably not something I would ever listen to out of choice. Hats off to the band for a bold experiment and long may bands challenge what can be termed heavy music but I need my riffs to be satisfied when listening to a metal record. 6/10

House Of Lords: New World - New Eyes (Frontiers Records) [Matt Bladen]

Since 1988 vocalist James Christian has been leading American hard rockers House Of Lords, he is now the sole original member of the band after being given the blessing by founding member Gregg Giuffria to continue the band after he left the group. So here we are 10 albums into their career and with the seasoned band of Jimi Bell (lead guitar), B.J. Zampa (drums) and Chris Tristram (bass) they continue on their path of playing hooky, driving up-tempo melodic rock mixed with strutting numbers and ballads built mainly around Christian's vocals and Bell's guitars though this time there are a lot more keyboards in the mix.

As with most of the House Of Lords material there's an undeniable slickness to these songs which are about as AOR as you can get the tinkling synths on Change (What's It Going To Take) lead into a country inflected rocker which serves to incite some change (apt at the time) however the faux-street sound on it does sound a little too similar to modern Bon Jovi as does New World New Eyes. Things pick up with the harder One More while the first ballad is Perfectly (Just You & I) though it's not the last (obviously) there are more mid-paced/faster songs on the record thankfully, the closing song The Summit is a real fist pumper. The influence of bands like Journey, Bad English is evident and speaking of Bad English Mark Spiro collaborated on these songs along with Tommy Denander, Chris Pelcer, and Richard Hymas all adding their songwriting chops to the band's already well developed skill of creating catchy rock music. 10 albums and over 30 years House Of Lords still fly the flag for classy melodic rock. 8/10

Denied: The Decade Of Disruption (SWEEA Records) [Rich Oliver]

The Decade Of Disruption is the fifth album by Swedish power thrashers Denied. They have been joined on vocals by Søren Adamsen (formerly of Danish thrashers Artillery) whose melodic yet aggressive vocal style perfectly compliments the music on offer throughout this album. The music on The Decade Of Disruption is very much thrash meets power metal with nods to classic heavy metal, hard rock as well as traits of groove and contemporary mainstream metal. The songs are varied throughout from all out ragers such as opener Throwing Bones, anthemic rockers such as Hey Let’s Go and We Play Rock ‘n’ Roll, the softer ballad leaning Freedom Reign and slower slight doomier tunes such as Walk You Through Darkness and Undergang. This variation throughout keeps the album interesting throughout though the songwriting sometimes feels a bit lacking. Denied have a solid album here with The Decade Of Disruption. It is well played, fairly well written and is catchy enough to appeal to melodic and power metal fans. Not a mind-blowing release but a very solid melodic metal record. 7/10

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