Sadly, albums released at the end of a year usually tempt a cruel fate of being left out of the majority of top lists, which is sometimes nothing else but a gross injustice towards some exceptional pieces of value. Thus, Screenslaves, the ninth full-length release from Hamburg-based metallers Paragon is unconditionally one of the nominees for last year’s crown in Traditional Heavy Metal, if you ask me. Moreover, I think the guys are currently the leaders of what is commonly known as Teutonic Metal or German Steel, driving the names like U.D.O., Iron Savior, Rage and Grave Digger into the background.

Expect from Screenslaves nothing more than sheer Heavy Metal onslaught, uncompromising, a bit naive but hard as nails. The lead combo, ponderous and fat, pushes forward like a tank battalion; the vocalist, Andreas Babuschkin, rasps and bellows like a frantic voodoo, reminding of a lower, more brutal version of Udo Dirkschneider (ex. Accept, U.D.O.) and Biff Byford (Saxon) simultaneously; the solos, laconic and biting, cut like razor blades and sting like swarms of wasps; the battery of bass and drums shows envious dexterity and functions like a smoothly running clockwork that never goes out of action. Actually, all of the above can be automatically attributed to any track from this and any other album by the band released during the new millennium. Of course, there is a vital difference in the overall tempo, riff patterns and tunes, but in general this is quite a predictable collection of Heavy Metal rockers owing much to the attainments of the early 80’s metal elite and the bands like Accept and Judas Priest in particular.

At the very same time, this predictability remains the major winning point for the guys as I can hardly imagine a fan of the genre welcoming with open arms any sharp turns or experiments on such a thing as tradition. So fear not, Screenslaves is far from perplexing anyone with anything previously unheard. The only detail that may not appeal to some fans is the inclusion of the Backstreet Boys cover “Larger Than Life”, which, nonetheless, sounds pretty amusing coated in the metal shell but should be taken as a joke of sorts rather than a full “member of the album”. Out of my personal favorites I would name the mid-tempo headbanger “Entombed” bewitching with its double lead onslaught and half-whispered vocals, as well as the pretty fast number “The Killing Hand” galloping and shredding on the verge of delirium. Thus, I can’t see a single reason why you should reject it provided you still consider yourself a big fan of all things traditional and want to hear the same tune in a bit different setting once again.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Igor Stakh
January 9th, 2009


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