It’s becoming harder and harder to come up with a clever name as all the Megadeths, Medevils and Cryptopsies and Darkanes have already been taken. Paradogmata, presumably adressing fake dogmata, contradictory dogmata (as we will learn) or dogmata as it were, is an Norwegian progressive melodic heavy death metal band whose debut album Endetid²⁰²³ (Endtime) was released on November 24th via Hymns For The End Of Times and courtesy of promoter Sonja Schlicht and CMM GMBH 5 years after the band’s conception, a good album with typical trappings of the debut some of which could have been easily avoided and which inclusion of boggles the mind.

On Endetid²⁰²³, Frank Bøkseth (vocals), Per André Haarberg (guitars), Svein Håvard Ruøy (bass), Bo Anders Vist (drums) and Enslavement Polish guitarist Wojciech Ziembora (since 2023) present a plethora of sounds so different that, out of those 7-8 tracks (why not just one number we will also learn) each sounds like a completely different band recorded at a different time. For instance, the opening “Endetidsbundet (Endtimes Bound)” is a larger than life complex black (not enough to justify another tag) death and heavy metal giant with huge guitars evocative of both Dio and Dimmu Borgir, like a preview of what we can expect from the album yet hardly anticipating its immediate follower, a short simple technical death metal of Motörhead (!) “The Seeds Of Greed” which sounds as if someone turned down the volume of the mix only to usher in another crushing behemoth (with the volume back to normal power), a more traditional metal-driven “Seven Curses For The Deathly Pale”, the album having an appearance of a three band split and Frank Bøkseth’s very versatile vocals emphasizing that, now a black metal shriek, now a death growl. As you’re thinking “this is seriously weird” you get hit with the more progressive “The Cleansing Flood” strongly reminiscent of Medevil from the debut. And so on and so forth, the further you go into the woods the more trees in your way, to use an old Polish proverb, as you’re hit with Machine Head-y and Barren Earth-ly patterns of vocal behavior (the third vocal incarnation of Frank Bøkseth) and this is where, as things get more progressive, they also get more complex yet catchier , especially the early Gothenburgian “Harrowing Of Heaven” and the favorite Megadeth-ly (1000 Times Goodbye) and Iron Maiden-ic (Remember Tomorrow) “The Princes In The Tower” which are so good they make anything before (except for the opener) and after sound like a rehearsal. And all the while you wonder how did they manage to sound so completely different from track to track?

Another perplexing thing about this album is its contradictory lyricism. It seems that having opened with the prophecy of “the arrival of the end times” where “the end of truth is a message hard to swallow”, humans “blindfolded, fingers in ears” and then “does one then not have to choose, and hear” we “frail and thinchangelings, not ‘gods'” but rather “of all the species she [mother Earth] has conceived we are the parasites, the parasitic snakes” (Endetidsbundet) sequencing into the indictment of those who “build up fortune”, whose “sweet tax haven is their friend” whereby “salvation itself is for free, but requires your tithing paid to me…the Road to the Kingdom of God paid with the penance of gold” the “Serpents, preaching – upon the meek they’re leeching…the pious and righteous malpracticing at what they preach” (The Seeds Of Greed) Paradogmata position themselves as the purveyors of the true light until “Harrowing Of Heaven” practically reprises Dimmu Borgir’s “In Death’s Embrace” to re-Enthrone Darkness Triumphant¹⁹⁹⁷ 26 years past its prime yet still, “consumption makes the world go ’round governed by the dollar bill” with”the righteous in their own minds – being the wicked” as-corporate greed controls our needs” (Certain Future) – hating the end times, humanity, preachers, sin and God so what remains? They’re too insightful and too honest for abject nihilism. It seems the only thing that makes sense here is when they loosely address a historical event such as in “The Princes In The Tower” which is roughly set in the Thirty Year War (1618-1648) in Europe of which scope and extent most contemporary commentators suggest were driven by the contest for European dominance between Habsburg-ruled Spain and Austria, and the French House of Bourbon which was the consequence of the ongoing conflict between the Protestants and Roman Catholics after the 16th-Century Reformation, although, perhaps, that event perfectly evidences Paradogmata, two religious camps stemming from the same source bitterly fighting each other for primacy as if awaiting a certain future German Chancellor to reconcile them, for, if they can’t convince each other how can they convince the world?

The final thing that boggles the mind is Paradogmata’s choice of what ended up on the album – 7 original tracks, one rough mix that even more alienates what’s before (“Certain Future”, hence the 7-8 track count) and then 9 and 10 are demo and alternate versions of 4 and 7, respectively, and they don’t sound as good as the final versions, especially “The Princess In The Tower” which sounds more The World Needs A Hero²⁰⁰¹ Megadethly (complete with a Mustaine melodeclamation impression) in the final version, less original maybe but better for it. The above choices make this album look sloppy (not a good thing to present on a debut) and do little to convince the listener he or she is communing with something unique and special with great potential for the future, which is a shame because that is exactly what Paradogmata is, an uncut unpolished diamond stuck in an oyster at the bottom of an ocean, waiting to be extracted, refurbished and displayed to shine, but it shouldn’t take a music expert to recognize that, just a moderately patient ear.

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