ArcticFlame: Shake The Earth

After his impressive debut solo album Death In The Family earlier in the year, songwriter/drummer Mike Paradine returns with his ‘day job’ ArcticFlame and its unleashing of storming new album Shake The Earth. The album is the fourth full length release from the band and is a deeply impressive and invigorating explosion of classic and power metal brought with a distinct and rich imagination.

It has to be said such was the great pleasure brought by The Mike Paradine Group and their aforementioned album, which found acclaim and strong media response including regularly play on the likes of The Bone Orchard podcast from The Reputation Radio Show, that there was a heightened anticipation for the next release from the New Jersey quintet which Paradine founded in 2001. The album feeds those expectations and more with ten majestic slices of metal to captivate and fire up any rock and metal heart. Wonderfully eclectic yet soaked in the classic essences of metal throughout it is a release which concretes the reputation of ArcticFlame as one of the most accomplished and essential bands around.

From those early times when Paradine, upon leaving previous band Balistik Kick, set about forming a band influenced by the traditional metal of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Motorhead, ArcticFlame has been on a constant rise. From their first ever gig supporting Thin Lizzy, shared stages with bands such as Motorhead, Overkill, Helloween, WASP, and their well received EP of 2005 through their debut album Primeval Aggressor of 2006 and its successor Declaration of 2008, the band has risen higher and grown stronger stage by stage. Unexpected changes in 2010 could not make an obstacle for the band for long as the new line-up of Paradine, new vocalist Michael Clayton Moore, guitarist Sebastian Garcia, and returning original bassist Jeff Scott, emerged stronger and more determined. 2011 saw Alex Schuster join their ranks as second guitarist and the release of third album Guardian At The Gate which marked the band as one of the most powerful and enthralling melodic metal bands around.

Shake The Earth not only builds on what came before but throws the band up with the giants of the genre, their incendiary sounds and sharp imagination a sonic explosion of skill and passion. The album is a brew of multiple flavours which sets it apart from similar styled releases. Their melodic prowess again runs as a controlled riot throughout whilst the generated energies are as rampant and hungry as any offering anywhere. These strengths are fused with an array of grooves and disharmonies compound the full ignition of the passions, their discordant breath an inspired counter to the scorching and inventive melodies which burn from within every song.

The opener Man Made Man instantly piques interest with its electrified strokes across the ear, their sparks slowly blistering the air whilst heralding the following predatory stomp of badgering riffs and heavily jabbing rhythms. The vocals of Clayton Moore as expected are immense proving he is one of the best metal vocalists around and immersed in the surging guitars sounds, a wonderfully snarling bass from Scott, plus the unmissable power and mighty punches from Paradine, it all combines to show the band is pushing new heights. It is a thunderous start with a song which will rile the passions for fans across the years.

Two Sides Of The Bullet and Last Chance continue the high octane adrenaline riling enjoyment. The first is a pulse racing bruise of a track which fires up any passions still only simmering from the opener whilst the second simply enflames the soul with its abrasive intensity and incisive melodic dazzle. Both offer rock n roll at its best, neither arguably trying to break down boundaries but simply conjuring the freshest most majestic sounds from existing palettes.

The punk rawness of Call In The Priest as it rampages like a bull increases the heart rate whilst songs like Rider Of The Headless Horseman and the excellent Run To Beat The Devil only leave raptures with their melodic charms and insatiable hearts. The last of these three especially shows how the band, their craft and songwriting, has reached yet another level which can only reward fans and music alike.

The album ends with a cover of the Uriah Heep song Rain and the power ballad Seasons In The Cemetery (Gardens Of Stone), the first a vocal and piano treat passing to the second and its orchestral kiss upon the ear brought with a power metal embrace. If there is only one minor quibble about Shake The Earth it is that as it progresses the earlier charging energy dissipates, though the quality remains at the same impressive height, making it a little top heavy in adrenaline. Just a minor complaint and the placing of tracks as they are do allow one to recover the loss of breath which results from the first three quarters of the album.

Shake The Earth is outstanding and easily one of the best melodic metal albums this year, and ArcticFlame… well they simply make the best kind of metal to leave one energised and fulfilled.

http://www.arcticflamemetal.com

RingMaster 11/09/2012

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Mike Paradine Group – Death In The Family

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.

www.mikeparadine.com

RingMaster 27/03/2012

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