Released: 2007, Remedy Records
Teutonic metallers Paragon have returned with their eighth full-length CD. For those not familiar with the band's history, Paragon was founded in 1990 in Hamburg, Germany by guitarist / main writer Martin Christian, recorded and released two demos in the early 90's, and managed to release one EP and their debut full-length (WORLD OF SIN) on the tiny Blue Merle label before the label went bankrupt. The band split up for a time only to be reformed with Martin as the only original member, signed a deal with B.O. Records, and released two more full-lengths in the late 90's before they jumped labels to Remedy Records and began to work with producer Piet Sielck, releasing a string of four top-notch pure power/speed metal albums throughout the span of 2001-2005, each album showing better production and songwriting than the last while holding absolutely uncompromisingly true to their core sound. 2007's FORGOTTEN PROPHECIES sees a couple changes from their previous album - a new drummer in Christian Gripp, a new producer in Andy Classen (producer for such acts as Graveworm, Dew-Scented, Callenish Circle, etc), and the "musical differences"-inspired departure of bassist Jan Bünning after the recordings were completed.
Superb a producer as Sielck is, Classen manages to somehow one-up him on FORGOTTEN, capturing a slightly more "raw," slightly more "live"-feeling, and slightly more aggressive sound out of the quintet that is perfectly matched to their heavy-power style. No, I'm not suffering from a lack of thesaurical capability...the word "slightly" is repeated in the previous sentence for a reason: really nothing's changed all that much. Take Grave Digger's better moments of straight-ahead true/power blend, then add in a touch of Running Wild and Iron Savior as well as a hint of Manowar-ish dramatism, and you have the recipe for the metallic alloy Paragon's been using to forge albums over the past years. Razor-sharp riffs abound, strong bass guitar lines add extra weight to the sound and often take precedence when the guitars drop out in more dramatic moments, double bass-driven drums fuel the rhythms, and vocalist Babuschkin howls, wails, screams, snarls, and evil-whispers his way through song after excellent song. Like the past few albums, there isn't a bad song on here...and like those previous albums, they seem to fall into a pattern of opening up with a barrage of speed on the first couple tracks ("Hammer Of The Gods" and "Arise") and slowing things down to midtempo on the third song ("Face Of Death") - which usually has a great scream-along chorus. There's also usually one or more power ballads somewhere in the mix - in this case, "Agony." All of these cuts are excellently done, but are not the only standouts - midtempo galloper "Halls Of Doom" is a real killer with a great lead break tradeoff section and a great true-metal chorus and the "Revelations / Forgotten Prophecies" blend (the former is a really cool intro instrumental...which for some reason calls to mind the classic intro section of Diamond Head's "Am I Evil"...for the latter) is bound to cause plenty of sore necks in its listeners. The last few original songs aren't quite as strong as the opening cuts, but are still some really good material nonetheless.
Much like prior album REVENGE, Paragon covers another of their influences with a version of OverKill's classic "Deny The Cross" from the TAKING OVER album. While the music is done pretty damn well (save for the fact they botch the drum bridge from the intro to the opening thrash riff), Babuschkin's vocals, while decently aggressive, lack the "I'm going to rip your face off and EAT it!" factor of the Blitz originals, and so I'm afraid I can only call this a good cover version - not a great one. And while there is a hint of progression from previous albums, many of the songs do sound very similar to tracks from previous Paragon releases...not necessarily a bad thing when the material being retread is this good, though.
True metal, power metal, speed metal, a blend of all of the above, whatever you want to call it...overall, this is fifty-one minutes of excellent songs played with plenty of drive and conviction. Paragon fans should definitely pick this up, as should fans of Grave Digger or any similar band.