Album Reviews : Paradigm – Symmetry (In)Sanity
Twenty minute progressive metal tracks aren’t exactly hen’s teeth, but at the heavier end of the scale they’re close to it. It might not be quite as lengthy, but the centrepiece of what is shockingly only Paradigm’s debut album gives Edge of Sanity’s legendary “Crimson” a run for its money as far as general quality and consistency is concerned. And it annihilates Opeth’s “Black Rose Immortal” in that latter area. They are big calls I know, but “Reincarnation” is as interesting as it is epic, and as memorable as it is both of those. A variety of riffs and melodies give way to each other, constantly sneaking their way back in, creating a track that’s constantly evolving while never losing its original focus. The ever-changing combination of death metal growls, a variety of clean vocals, rough yells that are almost spoken in parts, and shouts that border on hardcore ensure that the vocals melodies never, ever lose their energy. A clean, quiet, Opeth-esque clean middle section breaks the song up nicely and to top the song off, it even has an unforgettable chorus. What more could one want? It’s as close to flawless as imaginable.
Of course, there are other tracks too. “Translate Mindstate” has perhaps the most memorable chorus on the album, with some maniacal cleans in between that sound like he is about to lose control. “Days Have All But Gone” could do without the generic breakdown but makes up for it elsewhere and the opening title track has a gorgeous yet simple acoustic section. Surprisingly, the shorter tracks actually contain almost as much variety and progression as the longer, but just in a more succinct fashion.
Overall, it’s a tough album to fault. There are a couple of transitions that could’ve used a bit of tweaking and a handful of less-inspired segments, but that’s not unusual. The musicianship is solid without being overly technical and the drums vary in pace nicely to stay in the same flow as the other instruments. As far as individual parts are concerned, the incredibly varied vocals are definitely the standout.
‘Symmetry (In)Sanity’ is an awesome album and is one of the few Aussie releases to truly surprise me. Keep an eye on these guys, I have no doubt that they will rise within the Australian metal scene. 9.2/10
Review #1 by Mitch Booth
Symmetry (In)Sanity (2010) is the debut album from Sydney based progressive metal band Paradigm and it easily declares them as one of the most talented new bands on the scene and certainly a band to watch in the future. The album manages to span close to 53 minutes with only 5 songs, each of them rich in musical skill and diversity ranging from thrashy speed riffs, crushing breakdowns and shred solos through to soft passages with an assortment of clean guitars and vocals. The album is incredibly tight, feeling like one extremely solid piece of music, not a collection of songs thrown together, and each of the band’s musicians seem to work together perfectly to create a very well-balanced sound without any one person dominating it. Similarly, though each member more than demonstrates his considerable technical ability, they manage to do so without compromising Paradigm’s sound or coming across as unnecessarily flashy or showy.
From the outset, the most obvious thing about Paradigm’s sound is their ability to create music that is altogether crushingly heavy, beautifully melodic and amazingly diverse. The album’s opener and title track “Symmetry (In)Sanity” is probably the most representative of Paradigm’s sound in general, opening with a heavy groove-laden metal assault accompanied by the brutal (yet pleasantly coherent) growls of vocalist Thomas Arcadi who quickly displays his impressive vocal range as he moves into a powerful layered clean singing section and a variety of different growls and yells all performed over thundering double kick and heavy riffage, with time signatures and tempo shifting constantly and seamlessly. After a short melodic guitar solo, the song moves smoothly into a long melodic section with an assortment of clean and acoustic guitars and soft clean vocals, all performed at the same high standard the rest of the music is, before crashing into a thundering breakdown (with the low roars of Arcadi absolutely pummeling your speakers) and then performing the whole process over again.
And this is not just what listening to this song is like- this what the whole Paradigm experience feels like. Heavy breakdowns are accompanied by melodic lead guitars, a vocal variety to (almost) rival Tommy Rogers of Between the Buried and Me rings over groovy metal and soft acoustics, and thundering drum beats and fills join the spaces between guitar work that ranges from soul-wrenchingly beautiful to jaw-droppingly fast. It is a roller coaster ride of irresistible headbanging, heart stopping melodic feel and mind blowing musicianship, all blended together in a faultless mix.
Though this is what makes Paradigm a band worth listening to any time of the day, it is the consistency of Symmetry (In)Sanity that truly makes it a stand out album. We have all heard albums that cannot make it to the 50-minute mark without blowing out their sound but Symmetry (In)Sanity does anything but this. It manages to maintain a sound that remains diverse across the entire album that stays at a constant high level. Not only will you get to the end of the album wishing there was more, but you can search through it again and again and fail to find a weak spot. Unlike the vast majority of releases today, this album does not have that one song that just lets a masterpiece down and it does not have that annoying section that you just wished the band hadn’t done.
In every review that I do I will always offer some piece of criticism (unless I am giving 10/10…which has not happened to date), however it is difficult to say that there is anything ‘wrong’, per say, with Symmetry (In)Sanity…rather, that it would be good to see the band do more with their sound. Lead guitarist Jimmi Ivanyi very clearly proves his musical and technical prowess- the guitar solo in the middle of the 22-minute epic “Reincarnation” is as powerful as it is beautiful and one listen to “Chameleon” will show that he can shred it out with the best in the business. However, it would be good to hear this technical talent extended to other aspects of the songs, just to add that extra element of technicality to their music. Similar things can be said of the music in general- the band proves itself to be a tight musical unit capable of pushing the boundaries of metal, so it would be good to see them continue to push their sound into areas more even more technical and diverse. However, really this is a minor criticism when the album’s strengths are taken into account.
As usual, I hate giving numbers to albums, but since I must I should probably point out that over the several bands and albums that I have reviewed to date, Symmetry (In)Sanity has received the highest rating so far. I do not give numbers this high lightly. 9/10
Review #2 by Samuel Maher
Album: Symmetry (In)Sanity
Genre: Progressive death metal
Origin: Sydney, Australia
1. Symmetry (In)Sanity
2. Days Have All But Gone
4. Translate Mindstate