The Paradise Complex
posted on 11/2009 By:
I am going to level with you, dear reader; I am a little out of my element here. I am not much of a fan of any music one would consider progressive, nor do I generally enjoy technical or melodic death metal, despite this, The Paradise Complex, the debut album by Perth, Australia’s Nexus, has made quite an impression on me. Imagine, if you will, a band that combines the technicality and brutal precision of a band like Necrophagist with the progressive, melodic explorations of, well, I have no idea, because I avoid that stuff like the plague. For the sake of argument, I will say Dream Theater, even though I have only heard three Dream Theater songs in my life. Better yet, Mithras meets…uh…. Oh, to Hell with it. The Paradise Complex verges on mind blowing; you will have to trust me.
Nexus’ music is a confounding juxtaposition of drummer/vocalist (There is something you don’t see every day), Dan Grainger’s brutal death metal-styled drumming and growling, and the rest of the band’s trad/prog/trash/melo-death mind-fuck. While Grainger anchors the band in the death metal realm with his double bass and blast beat-heavy drumming, Nexus spends very little time on traditional death metal riffing. Melody is the band’s strong suit and they play to their strengths, relegating chunky power chords and tremolo picking to a supporting role. Nexus’ songs are dominated by intricate patterns of intertwining melodies that are at times, quite frankly, breathtaking. The band's compositions are frenetic, complex and, by any measure, quite technical. Nexus’ playing, however, never ventures into masturbatory territory; rather it all seems to serve a musical purpose. The songs on The Paradise Complex generally feature a repeated main theme that helps give each track a strong individual identity, which often seems to be lacking in the work of many of the band’s technically oriented peers.
If forced to pick out flaws on The Paradise Complex, I would say that while Nexus’ brutal-meets-beautiful sound is certainly unique, I sometimes get the feeling that the band might be better off giving Grainger a sedative; his mechanically precise, blast beat and double bass-heavy playing tends to sound soulless when coupled with such vibrant music. Also, Grainger’s growling is quite expressive, as death vocals go, but I cannot help but wonder what a good traditional styled vocalist could bring to these songs.
With The Paradise Complex, Nexus have crafted a stunning debut that is both immediately catchy and rich in the intricacies that reward repeated listens. The band’s style does not fit squarely into any particular preconceived sub-genre box, and as such, I feel that it would appeal to a broad range of metal fans, but particularly those who favor the technical side of things. If bands such as Cynic, Coroner, Pyscroptic or Arsis float your boat, Nexus is a band that is definitely worth checking out.
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