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Progressive Rock CD Reviews


Paradox of Denial

Review by Larry Toering

Montreal’s AraPacis’ Paradox Of Denial is a seven-track release in a long line of releases by this  band that bring several hard styles of rock together, including prog and darker forms of rock and female fronted metal. This very interesting and long running outfit have done some remarkable things with guest artists playing on their albums over the years, including keyboard wizard Don Airey of Deep Purple. This latest release includes none other than David Stone on one of the tracks. He’s best known as a keyboard player who has been part of bands like Symphonic Slam, Max Webster and Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. Stone is playing live these days on a regular basis and he’s in fine form out there, and this band are the first to have him on a studio recording in many years.

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Track by Track Review
Order Of The Ember Queen

The first thing you notice is how well the production shines through, and the vocals of Michelle Macpherson are perfectly mixed with the rest of the arrangement. They waste no time getting into things with an early keyboard solo from David Stone in which he shines to the max. Being a big fan of his, it’s great to hear him after so long. The song is an over the top number that competes with the best of what AraPacis have to offer. No question about it, this is awesome.

Pressure Cooker

Guitarist Jerry Fielden goes into a ZZ Top blues shuffle on this, and it is an immediate surprise if you know his work. In fact, the lyrics even mention surprises, and it is one of their most accessible tracks in every department. It’s phat, crunchy and indie sounding with just the right amount of grit and even some pop sensibilities to it.

Propaganda Messiah
This is where things get crazy with the vocals hearkening back to more of what this band are usually known for. The vocals do bring some other elements as the song wears on, keeping it slightly pretty around the ugliness of the subject matter in which it completely fits. If you know this band, you’ll definitely-appreciate this. 
Dirty Soap
This is another point where the guitar is very bluesy, and the band very strong behind it. This also includes what is probably the best vocal performance on the album for those who like her voice this way. This is so slinky and laid back that it’s absolutely-mesmerizing and hypnotizing. What a killer little gem this is with some fantastic guitar work.
The Devil’s Prince
Along with the opening track, this is probably one of the most epic numbers on the disc. Both of-the songs are on equal levels and can’t be denied as the opus tracks on this release. This is great rock ‘n roll no matter how you slice it. Any song about satanic creatures roaming the earth has its values in the marketplace.
This is a story about the profits of doom, which by now speaks largely for itself. The lyrics drive everything home here for anyone into resisting  the fascist figures of society, and this song covers that subject very well. This is also where the messages in the lyrics cut through the most.
Paradox of Denial
The final piece is the title track, and it begins with some Keith Emerson style keyboard playing. It goes into a cool whispering vocal and some almost Indian style percussion before it picks up and goes into a Black Sabbath style guitar. It even gets black metal oriented on the vocals. It includes another change up in the mid-section before the guitar solo calls to mind players like Steve Morse and Tony Iommi. With those references in the same song, it’s just a wild combo if I ever heard one. The arrangement is also spiced up with strings to make it the amazing show of progressive rock it is.
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