Parius – The signal heard throughout the space survey

“It stinks of your elitism.” The words every important opinion provider on wants to hear. As a fan of all things progressive and experimental, Philadelphia Paris was recommended to me by our esteemed editorial team. Their third album titled The signal heard throughout space tells the conceptual story of a space traveler traveling to respond to a distress signal. Paris examined the rock operas of Jesus Christ Superstar at Ziltoid the Omniscient producing five albums of music, later distilled into those 60 minutes. Operas and rock concepts can elevate, but not replace, good music. How do these grandiose concepts and ambitious operas translate into musical production?

The signal is an openly progressive affair, with Dream Theater and Between the buried and me being the most obvious influences, but also featuring shards of the sadly departed Native build. The big centerpiece titled “The Acid Lake of Gannymede” demonstrates most of the core elements of the record, including: an atmospheric introduction laden with cosmic synths; interesting and complex guitar riffs; a quiet piano interlude; and death metal influences conveyed through occasional tracks and harsh vocals. It’s a track that’s big in length and scope, trying to outline the album‘s central journey and key destination over 10 whole minutes. I will also linger The signalsynths; given the concept of the disc, space electronics are very present. This is particularly noticeable on “Dimension Y” which sounds like a heavy tears for fears track, taking advantage of dark synths, plaintive vocals and a groovy bassline. I am reliably informed by ParisIt’s a sheet the band has so far courted death metal fans, but here it only appears fleetingly on a few tracks.

This unfortunately leads to my first complaint: while the infrequent harsh vocals are surprisingly varied, mixing screams with guttural growls, the prevalent clean vocals let the side down somewhat. They are technically proficient but thin, lacking in depth and power. It’s partly the vocalist but partly the production, which blends the vocals lower than the influences mentioned above. Stupid, on-the-nose lyrics make this worse. They make sense on an album that doesn’t take itself too seriously but the likes of Dream Theater and BTBAM are able to marry silly concepts with memorable melodies and songwriting. Without emphatic delivery, the vocal melodies struggle to stand out. That leaves the melodic heavyweight and hooks to the guitars, which are solid but not great. The signal isn’t strong enough melodically as the hooks don’t really sink in and the individual songs aren’t particularly memorable.

The amount of change depicted for “The Acid Lake of Gannymede” is not atypical across the entire record. The development is frequent and can be dramatic, as one would expect from something progressive. But The signal strays too far from tasteful progression for my ears. The opener titled “Spacelog.0245” is frenetic, even fuzzy, as it moves through the gears of cosmic synths, acoustic melodies and spoken narration before reaching an appropriate heaviness. It’s too long and changing for an intro, ultimately being worse than if only a few of his ideas were used over a 2-3 minute period. While I appreciate the tense moments where the bigger, airier moments transition into a more crisp, modern tone (it happens a few times on “The Signal”), the passages generally change too frequently and don’t build or do not overlap coherently. Most of the songs meander through different tempos, melodies, and keys without much apparent direction. It’s clearly a “travel-not-the-destination” release (both musically and in concept!) but the constant variation means that no musical cue stands out.

My score seems tough given the strong leads and strong performances, but I just don’t appreciate The signal. I don’t buy in the Paris melodies and there aren’t enough rewards during the songs to justify the time investment required. This is particularly evident on the 10-minute (“The Acid Lake of Gannymede”) and 13-minute (“Arecibo”) tracks. Bursts of talent and progressive sophistication only serve to highlight a majority that does not engage me. So, in short: no. The music here is not saved by history.

Evaluation: 2.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Revised format: MP3 320 kbps
Label: Willowtip discs
Websites: |
Outings around the world: October 7, 2022

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