Even if thrash metal is a smaller part of my larger listening now, it was a big part of my metal upbringing. Even beyond the Big Four, the infectious energy of thrash metal set the bar for the excitement that heavy metal can contain, and there was no shortage of classic bands with lengthy discographies to dissect. Today, the modern form of the genre isn't always what I'm looking for, but Sweden's Paranorm is onto something: as much as their upcoming album Empyrean is a whirling, steely ripper, it's also just simply fun. Their use of thrash's vicious pacing paired with inventive and technical lead work proves to be pretty irresistible: as a sample, we're premiering the track "Critical Mass" right now.

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"Critical Mass" barely needs to repeat itself, beyond hammering home the chorus -- innumerable solos, leads, and harmonies make all five minutes a very relistenable teaser for what's to come. The snarled vocals, hinting ever so slightly towards a cruel sneer, call back to Teutonic thrash, while the lead work finds a balance between ornate, neoclassical harmonies and memorable licks. It's not a stale retreading of the past: rather, the band's progressive edge is only sharpened further by their obvious respect for the fundamentals.

Regarding "Critical Mass," lead guitarist Fredrik comments:

The theme for Critical Mass came to life when Markus and I discussed an event that took place this past Summer. We had a few different ideas and perspectives in mind, but eventually decided to dive into the deep end and explore the feeling of rage. In broad strokes, the song is about the build-up of pure rage to the point that you completely lose control of yourself, start seeing red, and your entire being just goes into berserk mode. It's probably one of the more to-the-point themes on the album.

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Empyrean releases February 26th, 2020 via Redefining Darkness Records.


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