In far 1990 German Thrash/Power Metal band Paradox released Heresy, a conceptual album about Albigensian Crusade. Now, 31 years later in 2021 here comes the sequel of the story, Heresy II – End Of A Legend.
Heresy was highly acclaimed by fans, got a lot of positive reviews from critics and made the band famous far beyond their homeland Bavaria; I need to say it was rightfully deserved. However, in 90s the Grunge era started with all the consequences and Paradox were silent for 10 years, until 2000 when Collision Course was released. Nevertheless, something went wrong then too because their next album, Electrify was released only in 2008. The band announced the continuation of Heresy in 2013 but instead of it they released Pangea in 2016 (which was also welcomed warmly by fans). Now this long-awaited album is finally done. For this record the band’s founder Charly Steinhauer (vocal, guitar) brought his old brother-in-arms, original Paradox drummer Alex Blaha, guitarist Christian Münzner and bassist Olly Keller. Peter Vogt was responsible for concept and lyrics – 30 years ago he adapted the story of battle between Cathars and Crusades for the bands and who better will fit for the sequel?
The first thing I want to talk about is brilliant work of Christian Münzner: his mighty riffs and excellent solos are really second to none. Here the aggression of Thrash Metal, the heaviness of Power Metal, melody and techniques are masterfully mixed into one solid piece; “Mountains And Caves”, “A Meeting Of Minds” and “Man Of Sorrow” will be probably the best examples for it. In “Children Of A Virgin” some Folk Metal can be heard; Christian greatly uses these touches of Folk for his solo as well. And “Priestly Vows” is a pure Thrash without some other elements. However, in the middle of the song everything fades out, changing aggressive riffs with atmospheric arpeggio but later the tempo sharply gained again with the riffs and impressive guitar solo.
There is a great atmosphere in this album, beyond fast pace and heaviness. Usually some various sound create it, like pouring rain, neighing of horses, steps or even prayers, like in “Man Of Sorrows (prologue)”. Yet it sounds very integral, emphasizing music without gaining some unnecessary attention.
Heresy II – End Of A Legend has also two nine-minutes-long epics, a mentioned “A Meeting Of Minds” and “The Great Denial”. If the first one is quite dark, melodic ballad (at least in its first half), which gives the listener a break. “The Great Denial”, in its turn is some kind of quintessence of this album: it includes Thrash Metal, melody and techniques.
Nevertheless, this album has one big lack, it’s the mix. It seems that Paradox wanted to re-create the oldschool sound with modern technologies but in the end it didn’t work quite well: sometimes guitars and vocals just drowning under fore fronted bass and drums. In the end, the sound isn’t raw, as it was in the end of 80s but the songs just got muffled.
I don’t really know how to feel about this album, to tell the truth. On one hand, Heresy II – End Of A Legend is very ambitious, technically brilliant and thoughtful work from the band with its own, original style. On the other hand, it seems that the strive to go beyond that one album, from which the worldwide popularity was started (or make it at least not worse) played some evil joke in sense that the guys worked by 30 years old blueprints. There are no complaints about creative side of this greatly told story but I have some questions for the album itself as the final product. However, I presume it’s only me.
Heresy II – End Of A Legend will be released on September, 24th via AFM Records.
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