Irish rock band Paradox have been around since the mid-90’s. Since the early 2000’s they’ve released five albums primarily lead by brothers Pete and Mike Mac. Primarily starting out as a grunge sounding band, Paradox have developed more and more into a standard and more original sounding rock band with each album. Their latest album Chapters only shows the next step in the evolution of their sound.
Chapters starts with a slow bass and simple guitar riff driven As The World (well actually it starts with a forty-five second Prologue) and gives a good introduction to the album, showing alternative influences, especially when the guitars start to pick up, mixed with some good melodies blending their past sound with their present quite nicely.
Nothing Lasts is the first of a few slower acoustic songs Paradox has recorded for Chapters. The acoustic guitars don’t make the song soft, but merely emphasize the gloomy sound that Paradox is going for. Little Lives has a slow acoustic intro but it son turns into one of the more intense songs on the album. Free As A Bird uses acoustic guitars, but in this case the song isn’t quite so gloomy, and actually is quite nice sounding, though it’s still not a ballad by any stretch. True to the title, the song has a free sound to it. Painting Pictures is similarly upbeat and also similarly enjoyable.
The songs on Chapters that don’t have acoustic guitars, such as S.A.D and Eat have the same gloomy sound, actually there is a well hidden sound of acoustic guitars in Eat as well as the sound of horns, however with the songs being a little more electric they sound a little more serious, only emphasizing the band’s sound similar to how electric guitars usually do for bands.
What’s The Reason is a short and straight to the point hard rock song that lasts just over a minute. To counteract this song just two tracks later is In Disguise, Paradox‘s longest song on Chapters. While I can think of plenty of better songs that are over seven minutes in length, I don’t mind the writing of this song. Especially how the song has primarily the same guitar riff, just played at different volumes and at different intensity levels as the song goes on. But because of the songs length, it can get a little tedious.
But it all comes back to that that slow tempo gloomy hard rock-meets-alternative sound like the tracks Beating Down and the faster tempo Burning Out. While Beating Down sounds like many songs on Chapters, Burning Out is a welcome change. I’d have to say it has the fastest tempo on the album, giving Paradox great hard rock credibility.
The closing track on Chapters (not counting the forty-five second Epilogue) is one more acoustic driven track called Other Side. This track is kind of a mix of the albums songs that include acoustic guitars. At first listen it can sound nice and sweet, but the more I listen to it, the more I hear a dark background to the music played behind Pete Mac’s vocals. This brings the album to a full circle quite nicely and makes for an exceptional closing track.
I’ll have to admit that there really isn’t a bad song on Paradox‘s Chapters. Even though the songs don’t completely and utterly wow me (for the most part at least) I enjoy the album and especially enjoy the songs as standalone tracks (like when they come up on my music shuffle) which helps me think highly of Chapters. The song writing is above exceptional, blending in strings, most evidently cellos, ever so subtly on many of the tracks just to add emphasis where emphasis is needed. Just like any band that hopes for any kind of success there is also a good sense of maturity in the songs, especially compared to Paradox’s earlier stuff.
“Free As A Bird” – Without a doubt, this is my favourite track from Chapters, but that’s never my reason for picking the highlight. I just feel this track is one everyone can enjoy while getting a good idea of what the album and Paradox as a band sound like. Unfortunately there is no song sample I can provide, but Nothing Lasts is featured at the top of this review which I believe also gives a good perspective on the album.
8 (Out of 10)
|2.||“As the World”||5:01|
|5.||“Free as a Bird”||4:32|
|7.||“What’s the Reason?”||1:05|