The extreme end of rock and its younger, more muscle-bound, brother have undergone many changes since its 70’s golden age. But everything evolves, it’s only natural, it’s only healthy. I must admit I fell out of love with a lot of what was going on in this corner of music when melody and lyricism seemed to get subsumed by testosterone fuelled musical excess, a blatant more is more attitude and the rise of screamo vocals that sounded as if someone was holding a political rally in the seventh circle of hell.
Thankfully some bands have stayed the course, have applied metallic urges to rock music and also rock swagger to the cavernous metal realms. The result, as Bound By Gravity deftly shows, is music that mixes drama with deftness, power with poise, which remembers the importance of melodicism even whilst using it to drive home white hot riffs and tsunami beats. Paragon Theorem are a band who understand enough of the basics that they root their music in a solid, groovesome and addictive place so that they can wander the more excessive realms of rock knowing that they have the perfect safety net.
As the title track shows they have an assured way with the rock riff, one that leads back to the root of what the genre is all about but which also plays with edge and technical, often almost mathy, structures. As a balance it employs infectious gang vocals, neat turns of phrase and more than anything space to let the engine flow uninhibited. This is a band that gets it! A.P. B. Shows that they can get their funk on, Marvel opens on some delicate acoustica and some almost Floydian atmospherics, something that The Heist then takes to its logical conclusion and Combustion is swaggering street rock at its finest.
It’s clever, not something you get to say about rock bands much at the moment, but it is…very. The perfect blend of dumb, foot on the monitor rock and roll and perfectly executed and deftly woven composition, it stops short of more wayward progressive urges but is certainly many levels above your average rock posse who just want to recreate the three chord salad days of the genre. Not that there is anything wrong with keeping things simple but when you can write songs that are intricate, articulate and endearing but which still manage to have the same impact as those early classics then it is an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.
This is rock music for today. You can see where its influences lay but you can say that about all music to a degree. The clever thing here though is that whilst there is a certain amount of backward glancing and plenty of contemporary vibes going on, there is never any doubt that this is a band striding confidently into a glorious future for rock music.