Artist: The Paramedic
Album: Smoke and Mirrors
Label: Bullet Tooth Records
I had a much harsher review of this written yesterday, but I have since decided to edit it. Because while this album is still one of the worst I think I’ve heard all year, it’s not quite as bad on repeated listening. It’s largely tuneless, directionless, and characterless, representing the most cynical and perplexing of crossover attempts that I’ve come across in quite some time, and it took a world of effort to even sit through it all in the first place. However, once one has built up a resistance – a bit like exposure to a virus, allowing you to build up antibodies for the next time you come into contact with it – it is possible to isolate minor moments of decency. I emphasise minor and above all I emphasise minimal, because whereas on my first listen I thought Smoke and Mirrors got a little better over its running time, now I think it starts off bad and then descends into godawful.
The album sets itself up for failure by placing perhaps the only moment of genuine, interesting musical insight on the first minute of the very first track. “Xenophobia” fades in on a glossy ensemble of strings that gives the record a briefly cinematic, exalted feel. This in no way prepares the listener for the pure cacophony of drudgery that follows. The Paramedic like effects – lots of effects – and, for some inexplicable reason, the odd bit of autotune and all. They strain what could be a relatively harmless, albeit incomprehensible, slice of mildly acceptable hardcore through a baffling prism of discoloured add-ons and end up warping it into something deranged and ridiculous. By the time one reaches “With Enemies Like You, Who Needs Friends” and the second and last moment of pure musical promise on the album – a concluding guitar solo that’s manages to rivet instead of dismay – your measures of disbelief will have been strained to hitherto unknown levels.
The fault is not, mind, entirely with the effects table. The guitars are largely passable, but their chugging, monochrome riffs are doubly disappointing in light of the album’s promising overture. “We Left Our Souls in New Jersey” and “Clarissa Didn’t Explain This” flip-flop awkwardly throughout and find no melody or reason to underscore the vacillating vocals. The heavier singing, it must be said, does have its moments. There’s an impressive grit and rasping quality to them that adds some degree of gravitas to the songs. The cleaner parts suffer for their frequent electronic treatment, losing any conviction and sincerity in the process. Too often, they come across as detached and overly synthetic. That said, “Sol, the Conspirator” and “Eddie Would Be Proud” do have moments of clarity. “Sol, the Conspirator” finds some form of structure, which is commendable, even if it executes it with all the grace of a monster truck rally. The concluding section of “Eddie…” is climactic and even slightly compelling, though it too wobbles and falls apart far too quickly. “All For You” also isn’t bad, managing to instil some sense of urgency with its more straightforward metal approach. The chorus almost manages to drown out its synth-like tormentors and provides something rhythmic and triumphant for live performances. The verses are concentrated and consistent and bolster the track well.
The single most stupefying song on the album, however, is “When We Fight.” It is, believe it or not, an actual attempt at something resembling r’n’b in the middle of a hardcore album. I’m not entirely sure how serious one is supposed to take it, and indeed when first I heard it I was almost compelled to laugh and write off the whole thing as a methodically manufactured joke. However, given how disastrous the rest of Smoke and Mirrors is, “When We Fight” is easily the least offensive and most tolerable song on here. The vocals are hideous, but there’s something almost comforting about the aural neutrality of the gently swaying rhythm and glistening piano notes, especially when one remembers the car crash that precedes them.
Smoke and Mirrors isn’t exactly an incendiary debut for The Paramedic, and there’s not very much to praise on it. It is possible they may improve with time, hopefully by adopting a less-is-more approach and focusing on simpler, more organic music. In the meantime however, this sounds too much like a blasé, mediocre attempt at being edgy. Existing fans will likely be pleased; everyone else will take more convincing.
Review written by Grace Duffy
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
Read the original here:REVIEW: The Paramedic – Smoke And Mirrors – Under the Gun Review.