Review Summary: Pulling Teeth filter out their flaws and craft their best record yet.
Deathwish Inc. is a record label notorious for its association with Converge. Throughout the last couple of years Deathwish has slowly been popularizing a sound that is influenced by mid '90s metalcore and more recent thrash-indebted hardcore by groups like Blacklisted and The Suicide File. This sound has influenced a lot of hardcore bands with instrumental prowess to sign to the label. Groups like 108, Shipwreck, and Trap Them, have all slowly pieced together a sound that defines Deathwish. Throughout the years Pulling Teeth has been there slowly trying to catch up to their more successful label mates. It is hard to deny that both 'Martyr Immortal' and 'Vicious Skin' were good records, but they lacked cohesiveness. Pulling Teeth's music also suffered from being extremely indebted to the sounds of Integrity and Slayer. Even the final track on 'Martyr Immortal' simply came off as an update to the closer from 'Humanity is the Devil.' "Paranoid Delusions / Paradise Illusions" changes all of this and is the next great release in a long line of Deathwish records.
Pulling Teeth has always been more of a metal band than a hardcore band and on "Paranoid Delusions / Paradise Illusions" they fully embrace that side of their sound. 'Ritual' is a prime example of the ability the band's guitarists have to fluidly switch between doom metal, hardcore, and thrash. "Paranoid Delusions / Paradise Illusions" features numerous solos throughout its entirety, most prominently in 'Bloodwolves.' The success of more traditional metal aspects like largely guitar based intros and outros leaves Pulling Teeth sounding more dynamic and in general more instrumentally proficient. The prominence of synthesizers during the more melodic guitar portions also greatly helps fill in Pulling Teeth’s sound on "Paranoid Delusions / Paradise Illusions." Vocalist Mike Riley has also stepped up both his lyrical and vocal performance. While mainly relying on screaming Riley steps out of his comfort zone on the closer 'Paradise Illusions' with some melodic vocals. This choice definitely helps 'Paradise Illusions' reach the dramatic feel the track is supposed to possess. Riley also has vastly improved his lyrically ability. 'Ritual' and its topic of the pains of touring are poignant while remaining aggressive. "Paranoid Delusions" shows that while Pulling Teeth may be moving towards a more metal sound they still have the mindset of a hardcore band.
'Paranoid Delusions / Paradise Illusions' is a record that helps define Pulling Teeth as one of Deathwish’s more sophisticated bands and leaves them being viewed in the same mindset as label heavyweights like Converge, Cursed, and Integrity. The sophistication in the textural aspects on this record with the incorporation of guitar, bass and synthesizers, is both heavy and melodic as can be seen by the variety of sounds achieved on ‘Paradise Illusions,’ from its field recording introduction to its final explosion. As of now Pulling Teeth seemingly has released the best heavy record of 2009.