Unsure what to expect going into the debut solo album from Mike Paradine, the drummer of metal band ArcticFlame, there was a slight reticence alongside the intrigue. Traditional metal the sound his day job creates is not the favoured sound here but as soon as the opening chords and riffs broke out upon Death In The Family any doubt was blown right away. The album is an eager and undemanding muscular burst of honest and straight forward rock ‘n’ roll. An immediate buddy to go sink some beer with and delight in mischief alongside, basically a total joy.
The Mike Paradine Group has produced an album that captures the imagination and heart with songs that carry no pretence or self indulgence. They are tunes wanting to have and to offer fun which they do across all ten exuberant tracks to the fullest satisfaction. The collection of songs are a personal journey for Paradine with many of the themes being taken from his “on-going feud” with certain family members, his battle with cancer as a thirteen year old, and his life growing up through the 70’s and 80’s in Bayonne, New Jersey. With the lyrics and melodies provided by Paradine alongside the music of Dave Manheim (Supernatiral, Society Killers), who also produced the release, the album is an honest creation from the heart with no sign of bitterness or anger, just truth.
The album sees Paradine bringing vocals and all drums to its tracks with Manheim providing the guitars, bass, and keyboard. There are also additional contributions from Richard Holmgren (Wolf) and Michael Clayton Moore (ArcticFlame) who do the vocals on some songs as does Manheim, Jeff Scott (ArcticFlame) on bass for the cover of Parasite by Kiss, and Kilroy on guitar. Death In The Family is wonderfully varied, bursting out with quality heavy metal energy and aggression at times whilst on some tracks exciting the ear with powerful rock based songs. There is never a predictable moment or any point when one looks forward to the next track. The release is not ground breaking but simply feeds the senses with the best infectious rock ‘n’ roll wrapped up in an invention and energy that captures the heart and imagination.
Venom And Piss opens up the party with robust eager riffs and a melodic teasing of the ear. It takes the senses on a boisterous addictive ride, the song dripping well crafted metal intent and fresh energy. Holmgren brings the personal words of Paradine forth with an accomplished and expressive delivery that lies perfectly on the irritable groove which winds around the ear persistently. An excellent start easily backed up by following song Rise Up from the Grave. With Clayton Moore taking over the vocals the song deals with being a 13 year old boy having cancer, the defiance of Paradine despite losing his leg from it at the time bristling from every word and punched through by the fine metal driven sounds behind. Already the album has won the heart but it only gets better from here on in.
The wonderful Cooperesque Monster’s Ball is an instantaneous love affair; it defies anyone not to join in within the opening minute of its infection. The tale of various serial killers gathering together for a party is an exhilarating audio cartoon strip to increase the pulse rate. The dual vocals of Paradine and Manheim ride an avalanche of hungry riffs and a groove that takes control with a siren like charm. The solo it unleashes is as sharp as the evil that frequents the characters within the song and the anthemic like quality throughout is a rewarding pleasure to fully lose one self within.
The album holds these heights throughout with songs like the soulful power ballad On a Tuesday Morning (The John J Harvey), the mighty Taste My Fist another metal defiant tune carrying a great Dead Kennedys like groove dealing with Paradine’s battle with cancer, and the stunning emotive closing ballad The Dust, all striking deep and wholeheartedly with quality and immense relish. The finest moment on the album though is Suzie with an Uzi, a punk veined rock song that captivates with a contagious melodic attack and hi-intensity energy. It sums up the whole album, irresistible excitable riffs, extremely well crafted flowing songs, and a personality that one simply cannot fail to be enamoured with.
Death In The Family is one of the most enjoyable and impressive albums to come out so far this year. It makes no claim to be anything more than what it is, an excellent vibrant rock ‘n’ roll album that makes listening to it a complete and long lasting pleasure.