Band: Paragon Impure
Label: Ván Records
Genre: Black Metal
Release Date: November 2nd, 2018
If you’ve never heard Paragon Impure and consider yourself a fan of raw black metal, you’ve been missing out, to say the least. Their 2005 masterwork To Gaius, a concept album centring around the life of Gaius Caligula, known to have been the craziest, most unpredictable empire of the roman empire, really took me by surprise when i first stumbled upon it. Raw sounding, cold, full of aggression with some of the best vocal performances i had ever heard in black metal, consisting of killer riff after killer riff in a compact, emotive and well composed package. The album stands as a clear 10/10 for me today, and as these guys have been taunting us for years with their status “on hold” on metal-archives, i was very excited when Sade, and their return, was announced. Noctiz, who is the bands driving force, has recruited a new lineup for this reformation, consisting of PJ on guitars as well as handling the engineering and producing aspect, and drummer Svein from mighty Lugubrum, where Noctiz himself has had a home as a bassist since 2007. Although Paragon Impure has close ties to Lugubrum, these bands have no ties musically what so ever. As you may be aware of, Lugubrum has drifted further and further away from their somewhat unconventional black metal sound of the 90’s/early 2000’s, while Paragon Impure plays immensely cold black metal, true to traditional values while retaining a lot of musical integrity. And this time around, they present us with a concept album dealing with the life and philosophies of Marquis De Sade, no less.
I have not had the chance to read the lyrics, but after many spins and thanks to Noctiz’ clear and articulated approach to black metal vocals on this album, i have been able to get a grasp of the structure of the lyrics and how they progress across the album, and the concept appear to me as a streamlined move forward from To Gaius. For those who don’t know Sade, he was an 18th century aristocrat, known for being excessively evil and sadistic, while writing books with views at the time unheard of, resulting in him being, among other things incarcerated, and later having the term “sadism” named after him. An interesting character indeed, and while i definitely see the appeal from a black metal point of view, there’s something about lyrical content with a sexual nature within black metal that i can’t quite figure out how to work. I mean, there’s perhaps a larger focus on torture and the act of carelessly enjoying horrible things for your own pleasure in these lyrics, but there are some pretty graphic scenes being described on here that i just don’t find natural within my personal, and i guess traditional values within black metal. To their defense i read that they’re describing this album as “sadistic metal” and i can definitely make that work in my head, both musically and especially lyrically. Because what we have here is after all black metal to the core, musically speaking.
Everything here follow a traditional recipe, it’s just expanded on, with great song structures, technical playing and really even a progressive approach to composing. Rarely do riffs repeat themselves, and when they do, it’s with a clear and effective purpose, like a return to a scene in a narrative, making for a gruesome and theatrical feel. Also, with tracks as long as 12 minutes for the last one, and two other tracks clocking in at right over 9 minutes, this also adds to the theatrical concept album-feeling. I have come to understand that the material on this album is a mix of some new material, and old material from a planned album dating back to the mid 2000s. Either way, the album sounds like a move forward for the band, tightening up everything while opting for a cleaner, more progressive sound with far more audible vocals and all over more conventional studio production. I’m really struggling with my bias here, because this album really isn’t as clean sounding as i percieve it to be, it’s just that compared to their previous album, which was as aggressive sounding as all hell, this to me is sounding very clean and safe. It’s like, as Sade III – Mors In Excelsis Deo opens, i can hear inside my head how that track would come at me biting, had it had the production of the last album. Because their previous effort really had this sophisticated feeling of aggressive danger, like a “this guy is after me”-sort of vibe, and i think this album is missing some of that. However, i understand why the album sounds the way it does. Time has passed after all. It makes sense chronologically, it fits the concept and the music well, and it makes for a very complete, “stepping out from obscurity”-type package. When i first listened to this, i was really hoping for a To Gaius II. Now, after 10+ listens, the album has grown incredibly on me, and I find that it bears a lot of resemblance musically after all. If you like your black metal intelligent and ice cold, this is the album for you, and if you discover Sade, come to love it, and then move backwards, you will find that Paragon Impure is a band that has not a single weak track in their discography, and your appreciation of them, given that you fall for Sade, will grow increasingly as you familiarise yourself with their previous releases. One of the absolute essential black metal releases of 2018, and definitely on my top 10 for this year.
We must sacrifice everything to the demands of our senses!
1. SADE I – Introduction To The Divine Marquis
2. SADE II – Juliette, Queen Of Vice
3. SADE III – Mors In Excelsis Deo
4. SADE IV – Repentance Of A Dying Libertine
5. SADE V – Philosophy In The Bedroom
6. SADE VI – The Final Passion, Or The Passion Of Hell
Total Playing Time: 46:25