Being a reviewer, I have learnt, is not just about picking the bands that you think you will like, giving them a listen and popping an 8 or 9 out of 10 at the top of a review. It’s about taking a step out of your comfort zone and listening to some bands that you may not have normally listened to and really listening to the musicianship. If you can appreciate this in something that is “not your thing” then you are halfway there.
Now, stepping out of my comfort zone would be reviewing a black or death metal band or, in this case, a progressive rock band. In recent times, I have come to appreciate progressive metal genre more than I used to but the idea of progressive rock (and yes there is a difference) is still a bit daunting to me.
I have never been a big fan of bands such as Pink Floyd, Yes or Rush (sacrilege some might say but that’s just the way I am!) as they were never heavy enough really for me. Progressive metal, on the other hand, features the heaviness that I like, hence why my love for the genre has grown. So, when a prog rock band appeared on the reviews to do list I thought why not?
So, let me give you a bit of background on The Paradox Twin. They are a quartet from Reading in Berkshire, formed sometime in 2012 and are fronted by main songwriter Danny Sorrell. “The Importance Of Mr Bedlam” is their debut album. The band were named unsigned artist of the year in 2014, under the former name of Formby, and were nominated for the best video in the Progress Music Awards in 2018.
The band consists of Danny on guitars/keyboards and vocals, Leland Freeman on guitars, Diane Fox on bass and Rob McGregor on drums.
This is an album of just 7 tracks, ranging from 6 to 10 minutes long each, and the lyrical content can be linked to various alien conspiracy theories (again, not my thing, but each to their own!) Danny explains that he is “influenced and inspired by the conspiracy theories and the idea that humans on earth are being controlled by extra-terrestrial beings.” Seems a good subject, then, to base a piece of progressive rock on and “other ideas on the topics of other worldly seers are gradually unveiled throughout this fine piece of progressive work.”
The album features subliminal messages and samples of speeches from the likes of Lloyd Pye, who was renowned for his theories on extra-terrestrial beings, can be heard throughout the album in which he claims that aliens do exist.
The album was produced by John Mitchell, who also features as a special guest along with Kim Seviour, keeping up the White Star Records cross-collaboration ethos. The artwork was created by Paul Tippett of Vitamin P, who has also done artwork for the likes of Kino, Lonely Robot, Black Star Liner, Kepler Ten, Europe and more.
Danny says he is a fan of the works of Steve Wilson, Opeth and My Dying Bride and the “poetic artistry that comes with these bands,” but he tries not to listen to other music during the song writing process, fully immersing himself, so as not to have too many obvious influences creeping into the band’s sound. Now, that’s dedication!
One of the things I could never get my head around with progressive music is the use of keyboards/piano, but I can see from this album, which features them a lot, I can see why they are used. Combining electro synths with rock gives the album soul and emotion throughout yet gives the band the chance and ability to “rock it up” when they want to.
Danny has a very unique voice, both gruff and melodic at the same time, adding to the atmospheric vibe to the album. Although I could hear a tinge of James Labrie to his voice, there isn’t really anyone else that he sounds like, and being one for distinctive vocals, this only added to the appeal for me.
The guitar solos are haunting yet melodic and sometimes heavy (just how I like them!) and the rhythm section holds it all together superbly. I seem to be able to pick bass lines up a lot more since my son started playing and Diane is a fantastic bassist.
This is the sort of album that I could imagine listening to in a darkened room, the volume turned up loud and really chilling out. I can hear elements of Dream Theater and Porcupine Tree but the band these guys remind me the most of is Cosmograf and their fantastic album “The Man Left In Space.”
There has obviously been a lot of hard work, tears and sweat gone into producing this album as this definitely does not sound like the work of a newly established band. These guys (and gal) sound like they have been doing this for years and have been building up to this, the greatest album they have ever written!
This is a fantastic debut from a very talented group of people (and this is from a thrash girl!) but as with all great debut’s, the question is will they be able to keep it up!? I for one, and as a non-prog fan, certainly hope so! They could undoubtedly give some of the more established progressive rock bands a run for their money……and probably win!!
1. The Mir
2. The Importance Of Mr Bedlam
7. Gravity Time Dilation
First published on Ever Metal