With the current political turmoil engulfing the UK which is sending out shockwaves to Europe and beyond, it's a fitting time for London-based band Paradigm Shift to be releasing their debut album, Becoming Aware, albeit nine years after the band originally formed.
The album's over-arching theme is an overtly political one, expanding on the concept that attempts to control people either through politics, religion, the media, dictatorships or medication, are ultimately futile and people will always find a way to be free.
With influences including Dream Theater, Rush and Opeth, the band has an interesting story to tell through the six tracks, but this they achieve adeptly through combining shades of heavy metal, prog and electronica.
A Revolutionary Cure is an ambitious 14 minute plus opener during which the band more than lives up to the definition of its name through the varying elements that are introduced. It melds together a soft symphonic opening, lulling the listener into a false sense of security as notorious political historic speeches follow, before they launch into a full blooded musical expedition featuring several mood and instrumental changes.
An Easy Lie offers another big change, keyboard player/ vocalist Ben Revens providing a very original “rap” line in his singing. The song itself also contains a great rocky vibe, great tight vocal harmonies, a wailing guitar and some fluid piano. Throughout the album, Reuben Krendel demonstrates his skill as a particularly inventive guitarist, being able to turn his hand to several different styles - from heavy metal to lyrical artistry.
Bass player Puru Kaushik and drummer Bryson Demath deliver a very solid foundation, especially on one of the two shorter instrumentals, The Shift. There's a jazzy swing to this track that brings Kaushik's throaty bass line to prominence in the mix along with some raunchy guitar and melodic piano. The other instrumental in complete contrast is the dreamy, doomy keyboards-led The Void.
Masquerade and Reunification, both tight compositions of over nine minutes, give a chance for the band members to show their abilities in providing tight vocal harmonies over ever-flowing, changing musical arrangements where no one instrument dominates. The result is that the album has great balance and poise.
Mixed by Rob Aubrey (Big Big Train, IQ) and mastered by Acle Kahney of TesseracT, there's a great swagger and confidence to Becoming Aware. As debut albums go, this is impressive, thoughtful and always engaging, providing the band a solid bridgehead on which to build. This is definitely a band to watch out for.
**** Alison Reijman
Where to buy?
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