Philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson once stated, “Not in his goals but in his transitions is man great.” Some may think or regard this as adaptation, but it’s actually more of a form of transcendence through hardships. Should you persevere and successfully surpass and navigate your goals through life’s plethora of trials and tribulations, you will likely thrive in the name of your efforts and fluid determination. If it holds true that in his transitions man finds greatness, then Under Paris’ debut release,Transitions, has set the band on a course towards success with every energetic riff and merciless breakdown.
Kicking off the album is “Shallow Grave”, a blistering, brooding track that is armed to the teeth with ravaging musicality and relentless brutality. A quick, eerie, discordant guitar lick greets your ears before swiftly introducing you face-first to a murderous frenzy of vicious, heavy riffage and guttural screams. Guitarists Serrano and Morrow masterfully craft intertwining spastic melodic arias that burst and flourish overtop the hail of slightly groovy, thundering riffs that are guaranteed to shred through your ears. Drummer Lucas Richards puts forth a magnificent display of quick, skillful footwork and excellent cymbal play in his pulsating, jaw-breaking percussion as bassist Riley Phillips steadily grooves on. Vocalist Michael “Thorr” Alexander proves his given namesake of the mighty Norse God with a frenzied array of deep, vengeful growls and ferocious, throat-tearing mid screams. The seemingly endless torrent of fierce instrumentation and relentless rage suddenly delves down into one last sprinting, face-melting breakdown.
Up next is “At War With Myself”, a weighted track that displays the band’s softer, yet energetic and emotionally heavier side. A melodic strummed riff steadily merges into heavy, driven riffs, driving percussion, and deep, somewhat gentler screams. Serrano and Morrow showcase their well-rounded instrumental talent with a clashing pairing of melodic, emotionally weighted riffs and jarring bursts of heavy chugging and melodic overlays to make an instrumental dichotomy that runs parallel with the song’s lyrical content. Richards also intelligently mashes a gentler, more cymbal and toms-driven style with bursts of footwork-driven, “traditional” metalcore elements that perfectly matches the rest of the presented instrumentation. Michael Alexander’s split between vengeful, heavy lows and deep mid screams add a layer of intensity to the emotional disparity that is clearly felt throughout the track. Alexander’s screams intermittently subside to allow a surprising added element of clean vocals from bassist Riley Phillips to soar and captivate. Under Paris ends this emotionally torn track with a final hair-raising, somber, ringing question from Phillips: “What have I become? Is there something more?”
Although Transitions features quite a few stand-out tracks, the explosive track “Yolswag#420” is absolutely deserving of an honorable mention. This short track packs a heavy punch that is guaranteed to rupture your eardrums. Grooving, pitch bent riffs from Serrano and Morrow become progressively more violent as tumultuous layers of grooving, unforgiving bass lines from Phillips and Richards’ pounding, driving percussion join the mania-inducing fray. What truly sets this track apart from the rest is the abrupt mashing of pacing in which previously fast-paced riffage comes to a gradual, grinding halt for a series of intense, grooving, sexy, sliding, bone-crunching breakdowns. Every slide, kick, and chug is presented as aural ecstasy as your ears are repeatedly pummeled with the audible replication of the feeling of having your skin slowly ground away as your face is repeatedly introduced to a concrete wall of heavy sound.
Another honorable mention is “Midwest Winters”, yet another surprisingly instrumentally and vocally emotive track. A simple chain of strummed notes gives way to emotionally charged riffage backed by relentless driving percussion. Vocalists Alexander and Phillips cleverly weave a beautiful pairing of clean screams and harsh mid screams and growls. The lightly echoed lyrics of Phillips’ cleanly sung chorus adds a nice layer of backing intensity to the overall vocal delivery of this track. Serrano and Morrow have this extremely skillful quality of adding slightly discordant or melodic notes on their chords and have a special knack for putting an unwavering amount of energy behind every emotive melodic overlay and passionate, intensely chugged verse. A surprisingly forceful breakdown smashes through the layers of emotive riffs before quickly taking a lighter turn and returning to the passionate chord progression of the emotionally-drenched chorus.
The album closes with “At Peace”, a bouncy, grooving track that unleashes a final aural assault of skin-shredding breakdowns and charged lyricism. Energetic riffs and pulsating percussion gradually build and explode into a mixture of fast-paced riffs and melodic arias and overlays as Phillips pours his heart out in his delivery of clean vocals. Again, Under Paris presents a split dichotomy of melodic and heavier elements as the melodic instrumentals spastically take on a much more fierce and aggressive form through interludes of sizzling breakdowns and grizzly growls and split-scream harmonies from Alexander. The seamless addition and integration of guest vocals from The Color Morale’s Garret Rapp adds a perfect layer of lyrical and vocal intensity and emotionalism that perfectly balances out the undertones of melodic and heavy instrumentation before delving back into a final tirade of relentless, jarring breakdowns that will leave you begging for more.
Overall, Under Paris has created an album that could easily be mistaken for a storybook or a timeline. Each track signifies a noticeable change or transition from one state to another, and aptly documents these changes. More importantly, the instrumentation perfectly fits each and every change of pace and of mindset, all the while never allowing their passion or energy to cease or quiver. If Emerson’s declaration is correct- if man is truly great in his transitions rather than his goals- then Under Paris’ Transitions is reaching towards perfection. (Katt Hass)
For Fans Of: It Dies Today, Scarlett O’Hara, Like Moths to Flames