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Second Life Syndrome
5 stars Sometimes, an album simply blows me away from the very first listen. However, I find that the ones that require several listens to appreciate tend to be the best. The latter is the case for Subsignal's third album, "Paraiso". I'm a big fan of their first two releases, and I even thought their last one, "Touchstones", was a masterwork. However, I was somewhat concerned with this release, as the band lost an integral member of its sound, the drummer Roel van Helden. In stepped Danilo Batdorf to take his place, and I was not familiar with his work at all.

I say I was concerned because Roel's drumming was always a perfect median between technical and appropriate, and his performance always seemed to drive the melody to greater places. I'm happy to say, then, that Danilo's performance is just as good, if not better. However, I think this album represents a greater balance for Subsignal overall.

With "Paraiso", Subsignal has tweaked their sound to perfection. The glorious vocals of Arno Menses are far less layered, and thus come across as pure, raw, and more emotive. The drums are not over-loud this time, as they join the chorus of great bass, strong riffing guitars, atmospheric use of keys, and a stuttering grooviness that is really catchy. The band has also made use of strong piano pieces to drive many of their songs. Lastly, the album is a bit softer overall, which is welcome as I felt a few songs on "Touchstones" were too loud for their purpose.

Indeed, this album full of ridiculously creative track titles is also full of ballads to a degree. The thing about Subsignal is that each track is full of different styles. So, technically, every song is a ballad, but every track is also a rocker, too. Heck, "A New Reliance" even includes a salsa interlude! There isn't a weak track on this album, especially when you give this album time to grow. "Paraiso", "A Heartbeat Away", "A Long Time Since the Earth Crashed", "A Giant Leap of Faith", and "The Colossus the Bestrode the World" are all favorites, but all the other tracks are strong, too. It's just one of those albums that seems to be inspired from beginning to end.

Overall, then, I think this is Subsignal's best album. I feel their maturity is showing, as they focus more on complex melodies than on heavy riffs. I feel that they have come into their own with the harmonies, as Arno doesn't hog them all to himself now, and every part of the song complements the whole. I feel that they have finally captured the essence of what they set out to do after Sieges Even, and they have the synth solos, the magnificent climaxes, and the excellent composition to prove it.

Report this review (#1057934)
Posted Thursday, October 10, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars Subsignal do not stray from their modestly comercially successful formula of heavy melodic adult rock, with alternating uplifting/mysterious and lighter/heavier motifs. In fact, there is an effort to make it even more popular this time around. There are even more huge emotional choruses (although the tattooed and ear holed singer looks on the official photo scary as hell :), classical guitars, keyboard embellishments, pretentious/poetic titles and those phylosophically sounding songs. And less metal, although guitar, when electric, is in full mode, washing over the listener. There is some branching out, towards more familiar neo prog, radio- friendly male-female duet, some interesting bridges and bouncy 80s style verses, but in general Subsignal does not offer anything we haven't heard from them before. 3 stars for the style, and 4 stars for the execution and melodic ear.
Report this review (#1060055)
Posted Monday, October 14, 2013 | Review Permalink

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