Paradox, 'Free As A Bird'
Info: Paradox are a three-piece alternative rock and grunge band from Cork who released their fourth album, Chapters, at the start of this year. Paradox have previously supported legendary Irish rockers Therapy? and Kerbdog as well as Japanese punk band Shonen Knife. Formed in 1996 by brothers Pete Mac and Mike Mac the early Paradox sound was heavily influenced by the Grunge Era of the 90's. The band shaped much of their music around many vocal harmonies layered on top of power chord riffs. After playing the local circuit, recording many demos and fine tuning their sound Paradox headed to the US and secured a record deal with an independent label based in Los Angeles, California. Pete and Mike flew out to LA for 2 weeks and recorded their debut album 'Circle of Growth' in December 2000. They both played all instruments on the album as well as producing the album themselves.
That 90's grunge sound pervades the album from the first full track 'As the World''s opening thick bass-line and the droning drums and guitars, straight off the bat you can tell Paradox understand the nuances of timing in their music, briefly holding off before crashing down with precision time and again. The first single from the album, 'Nothing Lasts', begins like an Elliott Smith track, softly spoken vocals and gentle acoustic strumming, but you know this isn't going to last for too long, as the songs title suggests, unbridled rock is unleashed at the 2 minute mark and I'm feeling old sounds from my teens re-enter my head, Metallica's Black Album, where did I leave it, why haven't I listened to it in so long?
Next track 'S.A.D.''s opening riff is bloody delicious and it's so nice when it crops up again during the song, the band get lost in a smoke-filled chaos on this one and it sounds really good. Above track (video) 'Free As A Bird' develops in a surprising direction, again the tenderness of the acoustics and vocals lay the foundations, reminding me of a bit of a Foo Fighters first album and Eddie Vedder mash-up with some hard-rockin' balladry in between. Another highlight is 'Little Lives', it may be my favourite track on the album, alongside the rock opus that is 'In Disguise', but I need a few more listens just to be sure, there's definite Cobain stylings going on, vocally and in the trashy (not thrashy) guitar-playing, this is a very, very enjoyable foot-stomper, and again the bass is great, devil horns with your fingers on this one.
'Beating Down' again has it's Nirvana-esque elements but quickly strides off into Pearl Jam's Yield, another nice rocking number that casually loses itself in the second half. Chapters closes with the easy-listening and smooth tones of 'Other Side', giving you a chance to contemplate on what you've just heard. My own conclusions were that while I enjoyed the final third of the album, I really enjoyed the harder edge of the first 9 tracks and it's touching points, it feels like an album that has been sent into the present day from the past to remind us of the finer music that was produced during the grunge era. On a personal note I'd like to see more Irish bands do what Paradox have done here and make their own interpretations of the genre, if no other reason so I can rock out more like I did to Chapters, incredibly selfish, I know!
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