ALBUM REVIEW: Bound By Gravity by Paragon Theorem

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https://www.facebook.com/paragontheorem

Paragon Theorem are a five-piece hard rock band hailing from Hartford, Connecticut. Their music is a fusion of various kinds of hard rock, grunge and metal. Their many influences range from classic hard rock like Guns N’Roses, Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin to grunge bands like Alice in Chains and Soundgarden as well as modern rock/metal such as Deftones and Breaking Benjamin.  They’ve been releasing music for several years, and before this album they released Bare Your Soul in 2013 and Inkwell in 2015, building up a strong fanbase in the process.

This third album, Bound By Gravity, consists of eleven tracks. It gets off to an incendiary start with the powerful low-end chords and muscular drum sound of Singularity. It also has some very modern elements, with guitars put through some futuristic sounding effects. On top of this colossal wall of sound, the compelling, raw and distinctive vocals of Brian Moore soar over the music and his style/tone brought to mind Layne Staley from Alice In Chains plus elements of the late, great Chris Cornell (Soundgarden/Audioslave).

An effective vocalist is perhaps the important ingredient in the genre of hard rock/metal as it has to be a voice that can cut through a heavy barrage of guitars, bass and drums. Fortunately, Moore is exceptional and blessed with a fantastic vocal range. Featuring an anthemic chorus, lyrically Singularity is a very apposite and timely song about the consequences of science interfering with nature: “There’s a price to pay if you want to live forever, swap veins for copper wires, just trade in your heart for a shiny new battery…”.

Second song The Bottom swaps the societal for the deeply personal, an upbeat rock/metal track with angst ridden and brutally honest lyrics about struggling with deep depression: “Gotta find the bottom before it defines me, gotta find the bottom before it becomes six feet..…”. It features another excellent lead vocal performance along with some very effective Alice In Chains-style vocal harmonies. The guitar solo by lead guitarist Steve Delesdernier is superb, really letting rip near the end. Another instantly memorable hard rock anthem.

Next comes the title track, based around a blistering, meaty guitar riff. It’s another philosophical, existential song that reflects on the human race as the result of the blind process of evolution and the laws of physics: “No more than chemicals in a radiation bath, we’re all here together but we perceive alone….still just animals, no apparent path….”.

Invoking mythological characters like Sisyphus and Prometheus add further intellectual weight to the words, showing Paragon Theorem are a fair bit smarter then most of their contemporaries. The music melds the complex with the simple and effective, combining intricate riffage with a huge, chanted chorus.

Butanna shows the first example of variety in their sound, starting with crystalline acoustic guitars. It soon develops into another rocking track that depicts the bitter end of a long romantic relationship, as evidenced by the opening lines: “It’s not enough to say six years were wasted, they’re nothing but worthless memories…”. It contains one of the most instant vocal hooks on the album (“So long! So long! I do not wish you well!”) as well as some stellar, phenomenally fast lead guitar work.

Fifth track Combustion maintains the consistent high quality of the songwriting, this one standing out by virtue of the Avenged Sevenfold-esque dual lead guitar harmonies which really lift another strong chorus. Lyrically, it has a positive and defiant message to convey through lines like, “Nobody here can escape, nobody can get away, doesn’t mean that we should lay down and throw the towel in…”. The drumming of Josh Ingraham on this track deserves special credit, with some furious double-kick work in certain sections.

The Heist gives us a bigger glimpse of their more gentle and sensitive side. It’s a finely crafted ballad based around delicately picked acoustic guitar and lyrically tells the tale of Bonnie and Clyde from the first person perspective: “No, I can’t tell you why we make the choices we make, oh, I can’t tell you a lie, I think it might be the bags of money!”. The following APB is another song that displays their musical intelligence, with some fantastic triplet-based guitar lines overlaid over straight 4/4 to give the track a progressive metal feel.

Eighth song Charade is an entertaining track that opens with a spoken word monologue before launching into a hard hitting rocker that made me think of Faith No More’s Angel Dust, with its constantly shifting rhythms and complex arrangement. Lyrically, it’s a visceral takedown of someone who has turned out to be a fake: “The man with two faces masquerading as a God, with a homemade crown, he is…the Charade“. Again, some brilliant stacked guitar harmonies lift the music to another level.

Ninth song There is another fine example of their acoustic balladry, this one bringing to mind the more folky elements of Led Zeppelin through some very melodic and intricate guitar figures. It’s a refreshing change of pace after the juggernaut momentum of the previous tracks. This sound continues with the intro to Marvel, which then develops into their more signature style and another of their five minute epics. The nuanced contrasts in the arrangement mean this song rewards repeated listening.

The final song Wanted closes the album on a highly emotional and moving note, a heartfelt acoustic ballad featuring a captivating lead vocal from Brian Moore. It is reminiscent of the finest Aerosmith ballads, though with a greater emotional depth in the lyrics: “Bare your soul, show me everything you are…don’t be afraid, show me you every single scar…”. The Spanish sounding classical acoustic guitar lends a nice sophistication to this wonderfully sculpted song, ending the album quite literally on a high note.

Overall, Bound By Gravity deserves to be recognized as one of the best hard rock/metal albums of recent years. With an array of versatile musicians and blessed with a first rate rock vocalist, Paragon Theorem also excel at consistently writing memorable choruses with lyrics that stand up to analysis. The result is a hugely enjoyable musical journey that runs the gamut in terms of emotional range and subject matter.

VERDICT =  9.2 out of 10            

Alex Faulkner

 

Pre-order the album HERE

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E.P. REVIEW: Knock 3 More Times by Bad Marriage

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www.BadMarriageMusic.com

Bad Marriage are a five-piece classic rock band hailing from Boston, MA. The band consists of Jon Paquin on vocals, Mike Fitz and Ian Haggerty on guitars, Todd Boisvert on bass and Michael Delaney on drums. Their sound is influenced by great rock bands from the 70’s era like Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and Aerosmith and 80’s rock like Van Halen and Guns ‘n Roses. They have the honour of being awarded “Best of 2017” by Classic Rock Magazine and have accrued a large fanbase.

This EP, Knock 3 More Times, consists of six songs and begins with the title track. Starting with an irresistible Led Zep-style low-end riff, you know from the opening lines that this band are the real deal: “Standing at the bar at a shotgun wedding, giving everybody a piece of my mind…”. Jon Paquin has the vital ingredient for any rock band worth their salt; an awesome voice.

His style is halfway between Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Bon Scott and Robert Plant, with a great vocal range. Just as importantly, Bad Marriage know how to write great rock anthems, not just write cool sounding riffs like the lesser of their contemporaries. After an infectious verse, the song bursts into a cracker of a chorus, as catchy as the best AC/DC songs. A classic to kick things off.

That band comes to mind again with the slinky, sleazy thick guitar-riffage of Wizard of Love. It fits the lyrics which, in time-honoured rock tradition, are essentially letting the ladies know that a good time is very much on offer: “Your mama told you stories all about me, a rebel king to set you free, cos I’m the real McCoy, a dragon slaying boy….”. There’s a dry, knowing humour to the grandstanding that gives it charm. They deliver another anthemic chorus on this one, and the riff leading into the solo is fantastic.

Third track Be With You is a little more romantic in tone, digging emotionally a bit deeper with lines like: “I used to think that life was a game but now it’s breaking me down….”. They deliver another fist-pumping chorus, and I could detect the influence of Boston on this one, incidentally their home city.

Nay-Sayin’ Blues is back to the stomping 2/4 beat that gets people head banging and making ‘devil horns’. Lyrically, it’s a bit of a departure, a call-to-arms to stand up against the corruption in the world: “You left the truth far behind, there’s a trail of lies following you….now’s the time for revolution“. There’s some fabulous lead guitar worth sticking to the last seconds for.

Dead End Girl is another great song about women troubles, this one about a lady who’s a femme fatale, who can’t tell when she’s got something good going: “You’re fooling me with the tears you’ve cried, promises you can’t deny…”.

They bookend the E.P. with another instant classic, Old School Stereo. It’s another chunky, driving AC/DC-esque riff that provides the platform for a super fun song about the joy of listening to vinyl records on a jukebox. The addictive chorus sums up the theme nicely: “Turn up the new school music on the old school stereo…”. It’s a line that rather sums up the ethos of Bad Marriage; fusing traditional blues rock with modern lyrics and production style. This one must be a single if it isn’t already!

Overall, this is a consistently entertaining and enjoyable rock n’ rollercoaster ride of an EP that doesn’t have a dull moment. Taking the best parts of 70’s rock, they show consummate craft and flair in updating it for the modern age. In Jon Paquin, they have an authentically great rock voice, and the high quality of the musicianship backing him is self-evident to all who listen. This band deserve to be huge.

 

VERDICT: 8.9 out of 10 –

Alex Faulkner

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