Review Summary: As close to a documentation of Paraxism searching for their sound as you’re gonna get.
Paraxism’s first demo was pretty standard death metal fare, as covered already. They differed from the rest of the pack by having somewhat more melodic and catchy riffs (not in a mellowdeath fashion though, mind you), but all in all the majority of death metal conventions were maintained. There were some hints at wanting to develop, a few stray melodies here and there that suggested the band wants to expand their musical vocabulary and go on to make something different… the evolution took place in 1993, and is nicely documented on a promo for your listening pleasure. The bunch of songs featured within does a darn good job of showing Paraxism slowly incorporating new elements into their songwriting and gradually moving away from the standard death metal template and experimenting with a different approach. I’m not implying that the guys are starting to pull a Morgoth on the listeners, as their meanderings manage to stay distinctly metal. But, in their metal realm, they find room to squeeze in some keyboard and violin parts and much more defined melodies.
The oldest track on here is “Futures…”, which is the lone surviving bit of output from a somewhat unremarkable (perhaps due to the all-obscuring muddiness) rehearsal bootleg tracked between the two demos. At the time the song was written, the band was experimenting with going in a more fast-paced death metal direction, but apparently couldn’t quite deny their innate melodic leanings – the riffs “Futures…” brings to the table are distinctly carnage-oriented Paraxism, with a sense of melody and good groove discretely hovering somewhere inside the onslaught going on. It’s a well-structured track, never letting any particular musical idea outstay its welcome and varying things up a bit in terms of harmony and range every now and then for good measure – for example, there’s a slight hint at the song’s outro midway through. The song’s outro is a whole different story though, as attempting to be a galloping death metal band goes out the window and a stunning melody overpowers the track, making it bow its head in respect and cooperate. Momentum is not lost, it’s merely transformed into a thing of gut-wrenching beauty as the rhythm guitar obligingly provides the backdrop for the lead to weave its tale. It’s so simple, yet so very, very effective. Has to be heard to be believed.
Curiously enough, “Futures…” isn’t even the gem of the demo. This title goes to “Polyphony”, a stunning opener that seems to mark the point in time where Paraxism decided to let go of being a conventional death metal band and went with the flow of their creative juices. This song has it all – melody is firmly present throughout, but the riffs still have plenty of room to pack their specific punch. Calling this death metal isn’t that far off, as it still hits hard enough. It’s catchy, yet not campy. It flows perfectly, switching up who carries which part of the song forward (just check out how nicely the instruments pass the baton between each other in the intro). It also showcases an intelligent, technical solo that I’m about 90% sure is a keyboard, the tone is somewhat indecipherable and may come from some heavily processed, wah-drenched guitar. The defining transition song of Paraxism, and one of the best tracks they ever penned.
The rest of the tracks show Paraxism settling into their niche of sound they just discovered. “Questions” and “Connotations” seem to show a band that is trying to hammer together a rudimentary template of the style they just crafted, define its boundaries and standards. While doing that, they forego quality a little, and the songs come off as slightly subpar in comparison to the two shining moments of the demo. They serve their purpose though, as they add a feeling of uniformity to the demo as a whole. Obviously, Paraxism wouldn’t be themselves if they didn’t experiment just a bit, now would they? Parts of “Questions” sound a little mellowdeath in their approach to note choice, and “Connotations” casually invents nu metal with a monstrous chug riff midway through the song. There’s also “Forced Feeding”, the most aggressive track Paraxism ever penned. It’s a bit amusing how in-your-face this is when you consider how much outright melodic presence this has. The overall stylistic leanings suggest that this most likely does not predate “Futures…”, and does a pretty good job of setting the impassable heaviness threshold for future endeavors. It’s a pretty good track, certainly better than “Questions” and “Connotations”.
The track order is a bit funky, as something labeled “Intro/Acoustic” pops up midway through the rip, and “More Echoes” the outro is at the end (thus, we can’t assume it’s a simple case of someone reversing the sides of the tape). I’m not sure what happened to the track order underway, but “Polyphony” works as an opener and “Futures…” works as the track right before the closer. As is, there’s a pretty good flow between the songs – “Forced Feeding” has subtle nods to the intro of “Questions” towards its end, and “More Echoes” capitalizes on the endings of the two preceding tracks, using a continuation of the final mellow moments of “Connotations” as a starting point for an expansion of the triumphant outro of “Futures…” (it does a pretty good job, but doesn’t quite reach the same level of awesomeness). Maybe just move the intro to the beginning of the rip to signalize that it’s actually an intro, and all’s good.
In terms of performance, the demo is pretty impeccable. The vocals lose the nooby edge it sometimes displayed on the first demo, and stayed this way in the future. Technical proficiency is displayed with some flashy keyboard work that doesn’t go overboard into mindless wankery, as well as creative and enjoyable drumming. If this is the same guy behind the kit as the last demo, this is one of the most improved drummers ever. The drum lines are just busy enough to sound intricate, blasting isn’t overdone, and they don’t get in the way of the development of the songs. The bass has its moments to shine too, the highlight being a bunch of licks in “Forced Feeding” that manage to be effective enough to not kill off the momentum of the track. There are even some violin parts (“Forced Feeding”, “Questions”), but they’re not dominant and serve mainly as an extra touch of flavor to further develop the tracks.
All in all, the demo was a milestone for Paraxism, and two of the tracks on here shine really brightly. Too brightly, in fact, as the rest of the tracks seem a bit dull in comparison and the demo feels like it has more filler than it really does. Still, a good piece of work was done here, with the fundamentals of Paraxism’s uniqueness diligently hammered in place, and the style waiting for some finishing touches and quality output. And their 1995 demo sure was quality output…