A lot has changed in metal over the last thirty years but you wouldn’t know that by listening to the latest release from German thrash veterans Paradox. A sequel to their 1989 classic, Heresy (Roadrunner Records), Heresy II – End of a Legend (AFM Records) continues the story of the Cathars and the 13th century Albigensian Crusade, an ambitious conceptual endeavour that actually pays off.
As well as keeping regular collaborators, guitarist Christian Münzner and bassist Olly Keller by his side, frontman and founding member, Charly Steinhauer is also reunited with his former drummer Axel Blaha. Co-founder, Blaha, played on the original release and the band’s 1987 debut Product of Imagination (Roadrunner) but left when the act folded in 1990, choosing not to rejoin when Steinhauer started things moving again a decade later.
Opening with ‘Escape From the Burning’ and ‘Mountains and Caves’ the album kicks off with two furious bursts of melodic thrash, all blasting riffs and hints of early Blind Guardian. A definite pattern of no-fucking-around soon emerges with ‘The Visitors’, ‘Children of a Virgin’, ‘Journey Into Fear’ and ‘Burying a Treasure’ all following the same blueprint of fast, melodic thrash with killer hooks.
One of a couple of nine minute epics, ‘A Meeting of Minds’ slows things down and allows the album room to breathe before the speed returns on ‘Priestly Vows’. The solemn interlude of ‘A Man of Sorrow Prologue’ turns unsurprisingly into ‘A Man of Sorrow’, a thumping powerhouse of riffs which sits as one of the album’s undisputed highlights. ‘Unholy Conspiracy’ is an exhilarating combination of NWOBHM and melodic thrash while ‘The Great Denial’ is another nine minute monster bulging at the seams with aggression and energy before the short instrumental outro ‘End of a Legend’ rounds things off nicely.
The more things change, the more they stay the same, and an obviously superior production aside, the follow-up to Heresy genuinely feels like it could have been released at the same time as the original. The line-up may be different, the performances tighter and more accomplished, the mix sharper and the artwork less charmingly amateurish but, thanks in no small part to lyrics and a story concept by the band’s original collaborator, Peter Vogt, Heresy II is a record more than worthy of the Paradox name.
7 / 10