Yet another band with impeccable credentials from the 1980's has provided fans with new material. PARADOX established strong bona fides among the tape-trading crowd during Thrash's Golden Age, and with their new release, “Riot Squad,” deliver frantic old-school Thrash that skillfully provides all of the requisites of the genre, but yet at the end leaves listeners on partly satisfied.
Riffing is king on this album, and all of the riffs contained herein demonstrate technical mastery of this skill on the parts of guitarists Charly Steinhauer and Gus Drax. The sound is frantic, menacing, and indignant. Furthermore, all of the members have a strong, intuitive sense of tempo. The playing here is tight, and nothing on the album sounds the least bit sloppy. Given the frenetic speed of many of the songs, this is impressive.
The vocals, also delivered by Steinhauer, are decent. They are of a high-powered, melodic style similar to that of old ARTILLERY. Steinhauer's voice is not fantastic, but is better than acceptable, and he does demonstrate a certain degree of versatility. This is particularly true of his more croaking delivery to punctuate specific words on “No Place To Survive.” He is at his best on the songs whose themes are focused on social commentary, such as “Hollow Peace” and “Evolution Reset.”
What makes this album difficult to critique is that, technique-wise, PARADOX have done everything right, but yet the album never really soars. They band all play well, and in terms of songwriting, they have colored completely within the lines. The problem is that, while the songs are proficient, they are not moving. They are enjoyable enough, and while listening to the material here surely gets the head banging, once it is over, nothing really sticks in one's head.
This is a good album. It's just not a memorable one.
(Online May 7, 2010)