posted on 2/2010 By:
Although they're both German and thrash, Paradox isn't what most of us would think of when we think of "German thrash." Their particular brand of speed is more controlled, more technical, more precise than the ferocity made famous by their fellow countrymen in the likes of Sodom or Destruction. Paradox is far closer to vintage North American acts like early Metallica, Annihilator or Heathen than to Teutonic madness—powerful clean-sung vocals, an increased emphasis on melody, tighter tempos that don’t careen as closely along the edge of complete collapse, a more polished sheen atop the proceedings…
In nearly twenty-five years, Riot Squad is only the band’s fifth full-length. They dropped back-to-back underrated offerings in 1987’s Product Of Imagination and 1989’s Heresy before taking 11 years off and returning with an almost entirely new line-up and two more largely ignored records, eight years apart. (For those interested, both Product and Heresy were reissued as Metal Mind digipacks a few years back.)
Paradox didn't seem to age much in their time off, although only guitarist/vocalist Charly Steinhauer remains from the band’s earliest days. The riffs are fast, somewhat technical and predominantly melodic. Although no one band member distinguishes himself, collectively, their performances are spirited—energetic as hell, in fact; there’s a palpable sense of grin-inducing head-banging fury in some of these tracks, and it’s obvious that the band is having fun. Quite often, Steinhauer’s vocals resemble those of James Hetfield, or more closely, those of Dave White of Heathen or Brian Troch of the criminally forgotten Cyclone Temple, powerful without being smooth, throaty without snarling. To further the comparison, the songs on Riot Squad also fall in line stylistically with the best moments of those bands—thrash metal that balances memorability and aggression, all peppered with a dash of the progressive and tempered with the melodicism of power metal. (Witness the catchy riffing of "Riptide" contrasted with that of the frantic "No Place To Survive" or the mid-tempo near-ballad "Nothingness.")
While it’s not a reinvention of any particular wheel, Riot Squad is a highly enjoyable, well-executed and damn energetic platter of metal both melodic and angry. Those classic power/thrash fans looking forward to the new Heathen disc should find room for this, as it would most certainly be a worthy addition to their collection.
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