Paragon - Screenslaves 4/5
6. The blade in the dark
7. Death next door
8. The killing hand
10. Large than life
11. The legacy (Italian version)
For nearly 2 decades, Germany's Paragon have consistently embodied the true Teutonic steelbound sound. This is their 9th studio album, and it is by far their best! This CD is consistent in every manner. The key being, that there are no lame ballads, and very few mid-paced anthems are presented. The song structures are tight knit, heavy as all hell, gorging, gouging, persistent, punishing, and well played. The abundance of solos, harmonies, and infectious choruses, make this an ennobled edition to the Paragon pantheon.
Judas Priest, Accept, Saxon, and several American thrash gods of metal invade as steadfast influences. Top notch modern production values equivocate with the newer sounds of Grave Digger, Rage, Rebellion, and Metalium. Although, this release trounces anything those bands, save Rebellion, put out recently.
Usually, when I get a new Paragon release, I play it a few times and then shelve it. The songs are average, and only a few cuts slice into my memory. Their last effort, 'Forgotten prophecies', was their most uneven release to date. I could only tolerate certain parts; but I was taken over by their Overkill cover of "Deny the cross". After the exodus of mainstay bassist Jan BŁnning, I thought the band had burned out, and would never recover. I'm grateful to admit, I was dead wrong!
'Screenslaves' masters and reignites the passion I once held for these larger than life paragons of power. This CD is a sonic testimonial to the dark legacy of aged 90s-era German malice, steel, and speed. All songs are worthy in their own right, and there are no fillers or mediocre tracks. The opening bite of hellgore demonstrates that Paragon have recapitulated, and some heads are gonna' roll. The title track, the devastating "Death next door", and "The killing hand", all rip with glorious intent, like a blade in the dark, willing to slay with utter delight.
The Italian version of "The legacy" is quite engaging, and sounds better than the original. Even the slower "Entombed" never loses momentum, or becomes hollow, man. "Disconnected" keeps one plugged in, turned on, and in tune with the intensity. A slice like "The blade in the dark" continues the common thread of Paragon's previous songwriting paradigm. Whereas, the incredible loudness of "Bloodfeast" is so epic, very brooding, and totally brutal; killing with pleasure, letting one's inner demon out to run free.
All at once, it becomes heir apparent that Paragon set out to re-establish themselves, once they altered their trademark cover artwork. This colourful cover is dramatically different than anything they have done previously. While heavily rotating this CD, I am reminded of the measure of 'The missing link', 'Black in mind', or 'End of all days' by compatriots Rage; as well as Grave digger's 'The reaper', and 'Heart of darkness'.
"Waxworks" is another face melting melody. I recently watched the Waxwork I & II films (now available as a two-on-one DVD). These movies starring Zach Galligan from both Gremlins movies, as well as Valley Girl - Deborah Foreman, David Warner from Tron and The Time Machine, and even John Rhys-Davies, (all in the first movie); and Bruce Campbell (in the sequel), hold up as classic camp and gore, even today. On this song, Paragon focus on the time travel element, while paying homage to the original 1924 German Expressionist Classic which inspired them. By doing this they create an ethereal personification of astounding marvel and horror.
One thing I've always enjoyed about Paragon is their choice of covers. In the past they have focused on metal, doing justice to Warrior, Saxon, Helloween, Running wild, Exciter, Manowar, and even Slayer. Once again, they go against the grain and choose to metalize Backstreet Boys! Surprisingly, this is their best cover, yet; because, they have made a song, which I seldom enjoyed, fun, and memorable. Recall what Gamma Ray did for Pet Shop Boys, to get an idea. The video for this is totally impressive, and entertaining.
I salute the eviction and conviction of Paragon. Just when I was ready to abandon this once promising act, my foolish faith has been fully restored. I have now been saved by their screaming for vengeance mettle. Their revenge upon poseurs, proves they are not about to relinquish this world of sin. I am dutifully honoured to proclaim, that Paragon are prepared to deliver their final command: "Bang your head!"
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