With only a few notable exceptions, progressive music and thrash metal aren’t two things that go well together. It isn’t that there are a lot of bad prog thrash albums out there; there just aren’t that many altogether because thrash and prog are in many ways fundamentally opposed. With that in mind, the new EP by Sweden’s Paranorm, shows that these two sounds can co-exist well. “The Edge of Existence” delivers four tracks of crushing thrash metal that is highlighted by technical guitar work, unique riffing, and the occasional mellower moment. In many ways, this EP presents a lot of traditional thrash metal. The vocals are harsh, and, as you might expect from a Swedish band, there is a pretty enjoyable accent to them (relative to American-sounding bands). There are also plenty of standard Exo-riffs and headbanging moments. Just when you start to think this is a pretty standard release, however, Paranorm will throw something new at you. In the case of the opener, “Into The Unknown”, there is a fantastic interlude with shredding that is sure to please fans of Yngwie Malmsteen and other guitar gods. Then, the rhythms pick up back into thrash territory accompanied by an even more aggressive guitar solo. This section, along with the rest of the song, is not unlike something you would expect from Vektor or the new Warbringer. The melodies are somewhat dissonant, in a bleak, futuristic way. Even the use of blastbeats and shrill screams in this song brings up memories of the latter band.
Despite Paranorm being a relatively technical band, the riffs are still insanely catchy. After a nice sweep-picked opening, “Second Assault” opens with one of those Metallica-esque riffs where the rhythms are accented in a way that makes the riff really catchy, especially when the vocals pick up on this rhythm in the chorus (similar to the verse riff of “Fight Fire With Fire”). In fact, with riffs this good, Paranorm doesn’t really feel like a prog band despite having similarities to that style. The guitar leads are definitely more impressive than most thrash bands, and the songs take more turns that a normally structured track, but the band tends to remember that the thrash element comes first.
If I were really trying to criticize the band for something, it might be that the last couple of tracks are a bit long. They never get boring. In fact, “Desolate Worlds” has the best moment of the album, with another shreddy interlude, but Heathen and Metallica are the only bands I’ve found that are brilliant at sustaining 8-minutes of thrash multiple tracks in a row. In the EP format, this isn’t particularly problematic, but on an album, it could definitely wear thin quickly. Nevertheless, Paranorm’s “The Edge of Existence” is a great release for thrash fanatics who also love more technical guitar work. Since the band is offering this release for free on Soundcloud, you have no reason not to listen to it!
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4.4/5 or 88%.
Written by Scott