Paradox is a thrash metal band from Germany formed in 1986, emerging at a time when some of the greatest, genre-defining thrash metal albums of all time was released – ‘Master Of Puppets’, ‘Pleasure To Kill’, ‘Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?’ ‘Reign In Blood’, ‘Chemical Invasion’, and ‘Among The Living’ just to mention a few – so it was no surprise that their debut album ‘Product Of Imagination’ (released in 1987) stayed under the radar of many of the worlds thrash metal fans. However, three years later (in 1990) the band released the phenomenal ‘Heresy’, taking the world by storm, firmly placing Paradox on the radar of all those thrashers who “missed” their debut because of their preoccupations with the so-called “Big 4” and “Teutonic 4”. Paradox were now the thrash metal band on the lips of a worldwide audience – but it would take three decades, a myriad of line-up changes and another five albums, for the band to release the follow-up to ‘Heresy’ – “Heresy the second” or as it is officially called ‘Heresy II – End Of A Legend’.
Released in 2021, ‘Heresy II’ is a phenomenal seventy-five minutes in length, featuring an incredible thirteen songs – fourteen if you manage to grab a copy of the Japanese version, with the bonus song a rousing cover of ‘Merciless Onslaught’ by Metal Church off their 1984 self-titled debut album. ‘Heresy II’ has been one of the most anticipated albums of the year, with expectations astronomically high. And I’m glad to say, expectations have been more than matched – Paradox remaining true to their thrash metal roots, delivering a fast-paced, thunderously heavy, and mildly aggressive journey that is also melodic and as catchy as hell! Take note of all your up-and-coming thrash metal bands, this is what great thrash metal sounds like…
…and with so many songs on offer, Paradox‘s new album is one of the weightiest releases this year! Of the thirteen songs, a staggering six, clocking in at over six minutes in length – with the eight-minute ‘Escape From The Burning’, the album’s opener. And what an opener! It has menace, it has tension, and it has anticipation – the first two minutes building an intense crescendo of excitement, bursting into life with a ferocity so fierce it may just scare a few listeners. The blistering pace is the stuff of frenzied mosh pits, everyone everywhere stretching their neck muscles to breaking point. What a sensational way to launch your new album! ‘Mountains And Caves’ is a meaty blast of old-school, melodic thrash metal. The electrifying pace is on a par with titans of thrash Testament, Canadian thrashers Annihilator, and old-schoolers Flotsam And Jetsam.
The storming start to ‘Heresy II’ is superb, the intensity incredible, and the pace unrelenting. With an injection of aggression, ‘The Visitors’ races on at full tilt, spitting venom left, right, and fucking center! The unforgiving nature of thrash Paradox is unleashing is sensational, the tempo and pace phenomenal, and the level of intensity setting new heights. If you’re a newcomer to Paradox you’re in for a fucking treat – ‘Heresy II’ is superb, and is gonna be right up there come to the end of the year battling for the title of Album Of The Year. Maintaining the album’s aggressive pace, ‘Children Of A Virgin’ is a venom fuelled rampage of all-out thrash – the first four songs some of the best thrash metal released this year! And believe me, there have been some killer thrash albums released already this year – ‘Summoning’ (Desecrator), ‘Doctrine Of Misanthropy’ (Prayers Of Sanity), ‘Blood In The Water’ (Flotsam and Jetsam), and ‘The Final Chapter’ (Necronomicon), just to mention a few.
And incredibly, both the intensity and pace have increased, as ‘Journey Into Fear’ explodes into life, blazing a fiery trail as it scorches across the land. Paradox is dishing out the harshest pummelling the album has to offer so far. The ferocity of ‘Journey Into Fear’ is gonna leave severe bruising and deep cuts, with a trip to the local A&E highly advisable. And there’s just no let-up in the savage barrage of thrash from these German legends – the remarkable pace getting even quicker, as ‘Burying A Treasure’ comes rocketing outta the blocks. The nature of ‘Burying A Treasure’ is more aggressive, more venomous, and more fierce than anything heard so far! Paradox is hitting sweet spot after sweet spot with deadly accuracy, ‘Heresy II’ turning in a sensational performance – and it’s only halfway through!
And for the first time, the blistering pace is put on hold, mellow guitars breathing life into ‘A Meeting Of Minds’ – a feeling of power balladry filling the air. Surely not though – this is a thrash metal album! But yes, Paradox offers up the heaviest power ballad you’re ever likely to hear, mixing the mellow and serene elements of ballads, with the savage guitar sound of thrash. And it works! For the first four minutes of its nine-minute duration, ‘A Meeting Of Minds’ will have to die hard metal heads raising their lighters high – only to have them blown out with the force that oozes from the tempo change after the four minutes. This is incredible stuff – especially the return to balladry after the up-tempo midsection. Fair play to Paradox, pulling off a feat hardly any other thrash metal band could.
Scorching pace makes an emphatic return to the album, in the shape of the monolithic ‘Priestly Vows’. The sensational intensity with which this album is loaded is at a new high, the band pushing forth with savage intent. The moshers of the world are gonna go crazy for ‘Priestly Vows’ – it’s the second half faster than the first! Introducing a more “heavy metal” feel, ‘Unholy Conspiracy’ is afoot on the monitor-paced slab of traditional metal – with (of course) a heavy dose of thrash. The melodic nature of ‘Unholy Conspiracy’ is incredible, the infectious level off the charts, and Paradox delivers a genre-breaking romp of majestic proportions. The one and a half minute ‘A Man Of Sorrow Prologue’ is a dramatic and atmospheric intro to ‘A Man Of Sorrow’…
…which bursts into life with a frenzied guitar shred! The recent shift to a more heavy metal feel is a distant memory now, Paradox well and truly back on the thrash metal highway – and exceeding the speed limit with wild abandon! At nine minutes and twenty-six seconds, ‘The Great Denial’ is the longest song on the album – and maintains the high intensity and blistering pace that has been a sensational feature of ‘Heresy II’. Also, the venomous fuelled aggression makes its presence felt once again, as does the bruising ferocity of earlier. And as we head to the album’s final song, ‘Heresy II’ has exceeded all expectations, delivering a breathless and euphoric, listening experience. Closing the album is the two-minute instrumental ‘End Of A Legend’, which actually began as ‘The Great Denial’ played out. ‘End Of A Legend’ portrays the same menacing and tension-filled atmosphere as the start of the album did. What an incredible finish to an incredible album.
Overall, ‘Heresy II’ is quite simply, a sensationally stunning, thrash metal album.
Release Year: 2021
Label: AFM Records
Reviewed by Iron Mathew for Frenzy Fire, Metal Gods TV, and Metal-Roos.