Monday, May 6, 2013

Paragon Belial

Paragon Belial - Hordes of the Darklands
Folter Records, 1996
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro
2. Coming of a New Dynasty
3. Black Tears of Diabolical Rage
4. Shadow Grave
5. Horns of Reprisal
6. Cradle of Blood
7. Necromancer of the Dark Valley
8. Verdelet (Master of All Ceremonies)

Delving back in time to the third album ever released by Folter Records.  I missed out on a lot of their earlier releases because it simply didn't get out to my country, but luckily I was able to find some of the older stuff used overseas.  So here's another semi-random purchase that literally came in today, but the music is from 1996.  I have never heard of Paragon Belial before now and I am quite pleased with having gotten them now.

Paragon Belial play a very no-frills style of Black Metal in the old German way.  It's interesting to listen to this style and I think I realize why I found a lot of German Black Metal relatively boring in the late 90's.  They have excellent riffing, but the problem is they really don't have any layered guitars going.  So it's really a single guitar playing fast and furious rhythms.  This gives it a very vicious and intense sound, naturally, but comes across as fairly basic by the forms in 2013.  But this is 1996!  And the genre is still mostly forming at this time and I think Paragon Belial do a great job of generating a proper Black Metal atmosphere throughout this album.  At times I get a sort of Arckanum feel seeping through their music like in "Black Tears of Diabolical Rage".  That song also features adding some great leads over the rhythm guitar... if only they had done that for all their songs.  One of the strange things this band did was to include some nice eerie clean guitar between songs, but sometimes they are just instrumental tracks.  I'm not sure it transitioned into the metal tracks all the time very well.  This is probably my main gripe with this album, since it felt a little choppy at parts when it really could have flowed easily.  The album finally ends on a really high note with the epic track "Verdelet".  This is definitely one of the highlights of the album and finally lulls the listener off with the clean guitar.  The only other issue I have with the music is that the vocalists low growls are not very good.  His mid-ranged screams are perfectly fine, but when he tries to get a deeper Death Metal styled growl it just doesn't work and they should not have included it at all.

The production on this album is basically perfect for Black Metal.  You can hear all the instruments perfectly and the drums are mixed very well.  I really wish all Black Metal had this level of production as it's bare minimum.  I even wish that today Black Metal used this, because now we're running into issues of overproduction and losing those wonderful organic tones I hear on this album.

I would definitely recommend checking out Paragon Belial.  They definitely have a very historic sounding opus here and it really brought me back to the mid-90's as I listened to this in 2013.  If you have an appreciation for the earlier days of Black Metal, you will probably find some decent merit in checking out this album.

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