August 23, 2021

Paradox is one of the classic bands from the German speed-thrash scene, which was even signed by Roadrunner Records for the release of their legendary second album Heresy in 1990, before falling victim to the changing tastes of the big labels. After a decade in oblivion, Paradox returned with the fantastic Collision Course in 2000 and has since released five more albums. The only consistent band member and mastermind Charly Steinhauer (vocals, guitars) is joined for another original member – drummer Axel Blaha, for a revisit of their 1990 masterpiece. Come-and-go bassist Olly Keller and guitarist Christian Münzner complete the present line-up, which has been working on this album for several years.

The fans’ expectations have been high, because Heresy is still of high regard in old school circles and also because Paradox have managed to keep a certain quality of their releases. The fantastic artwork is provided by legendary Travis Smith and the lyrics of the second part of the conceptual story about the Cathars are once again written by Peter Vogt.

First few minutes into album opener Escape From The Burning left me struggling with the strange mix, which has crippled part of the songs’ potential. The guitars are buried deep beneath a wall of bass and this is simply a crime, because Paradox has always shone most in the guitar department. On the other hand, songs like Mountains And Caves, A Meeting Of Minds, A Man Of Sorrow, while bearing some trademark Paradox riffing, sound tired and full of recycled ideas. The guitar solos are, as always, fantastic, but the songs’ structure is somewhat forced. There is obviously a lot of effort put in adding complexity and drama in these compositions, but I was not convinced by the final result. Another problem is that Charly sounds uninspired and the charm of his vocals is lost among walls of multi tracked choirs and again – several guitar tracks, which are battling with the vocals for a gasp of breath over the bass terrorism. The melodies of the vocal parts are flawed and just drag with no purpose in most of the songs, which has not been the case in previous albums. Paradox has been stronger than other thrash bands namely in the vocal department with really inventive melodic hooks, which are nowhere to be found here.

There are however some songs which are simply better as compositions and contain more memorable hooks, like The Visitors, Children Of A Virgin, Journey Into Fear and Priestly Vows. I may be wrong here, but my impression is that Heresy II – End Of A Legend has simply crushed under the weight of the ambitions of its creators, which we have often witnessed with other, much bigger bands. It is a pity, because a mediocre song like Unholy Conspiracy delivers a brilliant guitar solo, which is once again evidence that Charly and the boys still have it.

If you are a long time fan (like me), then there are surely at least several moments of pure joy in this album, but I really doubt that it will leave a lasting impression among a wider audience. I am adding one point out of pure respect for Charly and his bravery to revisit such a beloved classic.

6/10

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