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Shades of Sorrow – Paradox

Shades of Sorrow
by Santiago Puyol at 08 October 2019, 7:04 PM

SHADES OF SORROW is a Canadian Heavy Metal band with Progressive Metal undertones. "Paradox" is their third album, following 2011’s debut "Dropping the Dead Weight" and 2015’s "Ascension." This quartet takes on a Classic Metal sound with some Alternative influences, delivering a collection of songs that sound older without feeling dated.

Opener "Follow Me Down to Hell" gets things going with deep bass riffing and steady drumming. It is a catchy first track with some distorted guitars. Guitarist Mike Taylor provides one of the many fantastic wah-heavy solos on the album here while Monise Ouellete shines with her powerful vocal delivery. She would shine even more if it were not for the weird mixing of the vocals, feeling very upfront and a bit muffled at the same time. Sadly, this is a constant through most of the record.

"Break" gets even heavier and it features groovy bass runs. There is a beautiful, soft breakdown at 2:20, setting itself into a nostalgic, ballad-like vibe. Some Tori Amos influences crawl into Ouellete’s delivery and vocal melodies. Another epic solo by Taylor caps off this interesting track.

Meanwhile, "Notorious" takes on a fast-paced route with some MOTÖRHEAD-like riffing and breakneck speed drumming. A spoken word section in French adds a dramatic flair to the track, especially over a John Bonham-esque drum breakdown by Pascal Deslongchamps. It is an urgent, direct and short track.

A funky bass riff by Julien LeBlanc with some RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS touches here and there appear on "Cyanide." PJ Harvey appears as another inspiration on the vocal work, mixed with more Tori Amos feels as before. Somewhere midpoint it gets into an atmospheric breakdown, with David Gilmour-esque guitar textures and almost tribal drumming. The song shifts into a 6/8 time signature, with a strong bluesy sound, and the change is really well done.

The title track comes next. "Paradox" is an acoustic guitar-led track, with a warm, melodic bassline and some sweet, nostalgic singing by Ouellette. It has a grungy sound, being quite reminiscent of ALICE IN CHAINS at their calmest and softest. It builds massively, especially on its last third.

"Facade" manages to be quite energetic while having some spidery, textured guitar work. It has a strong 1980s vibe and it is, without a doubt, the catchiest song on the album. It sets "Fractured" up quite nicely, even if that final track fails to fully impress.

Some editing or better songwriting could have made "Fractured" an outstanding track instead of a confusing one. Its first and last third feature a great contrast between uplifting vocals and vaguely sinister instrumental work, providing an ambiguous feel. However, there is an abrupt change on the middle section, with a sloppy transition that is not entirely successful. Maybe that was the "fracture" the band was going for, but it certainly feels weird.

The main issue with "Paradox” is the noisy production and strange mixing on some tracks. Ouellette’s vocals in particular do not get enough room to breathe, so they never get to explode as much as they could.

All in all, Shades of Sorrow shows some creative songwriting and a varied sound palette for a traditional rock quartet. "Paradox" is a solid, even fun record, that could have been better with some different production choices.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 6

3 Star Rating

1. Follow Me Down to Hell
2. Break
3. Notorious
4. Cyanide
5. Paradox
6. Facade
7. Fractured
Monise Ouellette –Vocals
Mike Taylor – Guitars
Julien LeBlanc – Bass
Pascal Deslongchamps – Drums
Record Label: Sliptrick Records


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