PARAGON- The Force Awakens
First off, I want to apologize. It has taken me way too long to finally discover this band. How the hell these guys stayed off my radar for so long is beyond me. Fortunately my metal brother Brian told me to give Paragon a listen. He told me I’d be hooked. He told me these guys kicked ass.
And now here I am getting ready to review one of their albums- at the moment, the only Paragon CD in my collection (although if the rest of them follow this example, that is a situation that will most definitely need to be quickly rectified).
For those not in the know (which included yours truly not that long ago), Paragon is a mainstay in the German power metal scene. You know the one- the scene that has given us some of the best, most ass-kicking metal in the world today.. bands like Primal Fear, Helloween, Gamma Ray, Iron Savior.. you get the picture. In fact, Iron Savior’s Piet Sielck has been producing and engineering Paragon’s albums since 2001‘s Steelbound. I knew there was a reason I heard a bit of that Savior sound. 🙂 Next year they’re getting ready to release a new album, Hell Beyond Hell, to celebrate their 25th anniversary. Now THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is staying power. And that is definitely going to be a review for another time.
But I’m here today to tell you about (at the moment at least) their current album, Force Of Destruction. Now let me start by saying you might need to look a bit to find this one- you can’t just walk into your local FYE and find a Paragon CD. Wishful thinking. Hit Amazon.
When you first put this slab o’ steel on your player, you’re caught off guard by a nice, relaxing little intro that lasts all of… thirty SECONDS before “The Last Day On Earth” kicks into gear and sets the stage for what is to come. When “Iron Will” roars into your ears and your brain, forget making any further plans. Strap yourself in and get your ass ready for one hell of a ride.
“Tornado” follows right behind and delivers about an equivalent amount of energy and force. The powerful vocals of Andreas Babuschkin complement this and every track perfectly, giving a vocal performance that to my ears, kinda reminds me of a little bit of Piet Sielck along with a smattering of Rock N’ Rolf Kasparek of Running Wild.
The grinding, thundering guitar crunch of dual axe-slingers Martin Christian (the band’s founder, BTW) and Jan Bertram, backed by an absolutely infectious and effective rhythm section herald the coming of the “Gods Of Thunder”, a track that has me thinking Savior (and that’s a good thing). From there it goes into the galloping, machine-gun ferocity of “Bulletstorm” before slowing things down a bit and letting you catch your breath with “Blood & Iron” (if you’re fortunate as I am to get your hands on the Limited Edition, there’s a second version of this one at the end with German metal legend Kai Hansen joining Andreas on the microphone).
Hope you enjoyed that breather, because it’s a rollercoaster ride from here on in- from full-speed ahead again for “Blades Of Hell” to slower lulls on “Dynasty” and “Demon’s Lair” before bringing you back to the station with the riveting “Secrecy”. The Limited Edition has a pair of extras (their raucous cover of Accept’s “Son Of A Bitch” and the aforementioned alternate version of “Blood & Iron”).
Bottom line is this- there is not one weak link on this CD. Not from the beginning all to the end. This CD is, without a doubt, all killer and zero filler. If you don’t have this album yet, go. Get your hands on it. You will be cranking this fucker loud many times. I can guarantee it.
Paragon’s “Force Of Destruction” gets an emphatic 9/10.