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Music Reviews: Paradox, Haken, Svarti Loghin, The Devil’s Blood, and Subaudition

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Greetings from the drizzle and cold of the Maine coast. It's nice to have some metal to keep me warm. This week we have various types, some of which are metal because of intent rather than sound.

Paradox: Riot Squad

They are German and have existed since the mid-80s, so it’s a bit of shock to find this is only their fifth album. Not exactly prolific, but then again they aren’t sell-outs who have moved with the times. This is golden age of thrash at its finest. None of your “modern metal” malarkey on here. As with a lot of this type of thrash bands, they deliver what they promise in droves.

The twin guitar attack really drives this band and fattens the sound. What they most remind me of is those not that well known openers on 80s/90s thrash tours. The decent band that does the business that you have never heard of before. “Nothingness” is pure Megadeth at their peak, while “Dream Hero” has the qualities of classic Metallica that we all know and love.

Paradox, while hailing from Germany, comes across more of an American thrash band than what you would expect for that part of the world. It may be the bay area style vocals that define the sound. If you enjoy your thrash, then you might want to check this lot out.

Haken: Aquarius

Right off the bat, I have to tell you I love this release. It's very much kitchen sink type prog, but they do it oh so well. There is jazz, blues, metal, and everything else tossed in for good measure. It's like a good dungeon crawl in an RPG, you never know what you are going to find around the next corner.

Now some bands try this approach and it sounds like a mess. Then again Haken have an advantage. They are English and for some reason English bands do this chaotic type of prog better than any other country. As a result, while these guys could be considered prog metal, there is a strong sense of Marillion hiding in the back. To be more specific Hogarth ero-Marillion. It's as if they started off with “Uninvited Guest” as a starting point. Of course, it's hard to imagine a progressive metal band who do not hint at Dream Theater. Haken is the half-way part between the heavy-side of Marillion and Dream Theater. That, to me at least, is a good place to be.

There is no a turkey on this album. It’s a joy to listen to from start to finish. If you like clever progressive metal that does not sound too derivative, then you might want to pick this up. Oh yes, one more thing, this is their debut release. An impressive mature release from a band that is only three years old.

Svarti Loghin: Drifting Through the Void

This is supposed to be death metal, honest. No sure how often I have found death metal so enthralling and relaxing. No doubt black metal purists will have a fit when they hear this. It's intense yes, but at the same time more epic soundscapes than anything full of blast-beats and death growls. Yes, there are a few death grunts in the background here and there to add the intensity, but nothing in your face, as is the norm.

The name of the CD and music therein reminds the listener of the stories of HP Lovecraft. Tales of awe-inspiring beauty, odd shapes and sounds that drive one to madness. This is the perfect soundtrack to listen to while reading Cthulhu mythos. Yes, it's creepy at times, but there is enough beauty to push you on deeper into the musical maelstrom.

This is heady, heavy stuff that truly is fascinating to listen to, especially with headphones. They seem to be striving to make an album that belies every single death metal cliché. If you are brave in your musical selections, I urge you to pick this up. It never sounds the same twice.

The Devil’s Blood: The Time of No Time Evermore

If it weren’t for the band’s name and the fact they play something called okult rock these guys would be mainstream. The music is some cracking rock that might fall somewhere between the Black Crowes and Thin Lizzy with a hint of the Eagles. It's laid back rock with a heavy vibe that is just very cool.

They got it down pat. The press release makes absolutely no sense and the music is just enthralling. “The Yonder Beckons” is one catchy as stink tune that gets under the skin and sticks in the head. Everytime I listen to this CD, it reminds me a bit of "Hotel California," if not a tad heavier. Not a duff track here and it has all those qualities that bring you back for more.

If you think the Black Crowes’ stuff is a bit too peace and love hippy for you, then these guys will fit the bill. British readers will find a touch of The Answer about this release. These guys would probably be Alesiter Crowley’s house band if they were around in his time. You know the rock that certain paranoid preachers go on about, well this is probably what they had in mind.

Subaudition: Light on the Path

This is called acoustic based emotional flow. It's pretty intense stuff that evokes heavy emotion and not as mellow as you would expect from an acoustic album. There is quite a bit of an Anathema and Opeth feel to this music. The Opeth feeling is probably not that surprising as they hail from Scandinavia, Finland to be exact, which is a place of start contrasts which inspires some pretty intense music.

Inspired by the work of Estonian (Estonians are ethnically related to Finns) composer Arvo Part. The band started as an offshoot of a progressive metal band Manifold Object back in 2003. There is a quality to this music that evokes Finland in the winter. It has an epic atmospheric sense that would work on a particularly minimalist movie soundtrack.

While this music does not hit you in the face like most heavy rock, it does hit with its intense emotion. A very interesting album that continues to surprise with each listen.

I so love it when my review suppliers send me music that is out of the ordinary realms of heavy rock. Next week we shall return to more traditional, heavy rock with some damn good releases. As always stay heavy and keep safe.

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