Immersed in the symphonic black metal sound, the fifth album by Brazilian extremists PARADISE IN FLAMES is an ambitious but ultimately flawed concept album that will ensure that the band remain rooted in the outer limits of the metal scene.

If you like Fleshgod Apocalypse, elements of Dimmu Borgir, and Cradle Of Filth, then PARADISE IN FLAMES may resonate with you. Blindness, despite its lofty ambitions, is under 40-minutes in length, therefore not prolonging the impact for too long. It’s magnificently played, composed and created. There is no doubt that the band, led by founder and only original member A. Damien, can play. The fact that they have in essence been a coherent line-up for the past four years, with drummer S.J Bernardo the last piece in the jigsaw joining in 2021, suggests that there is more to come.

Created to tell the story of a philosophical work that portrays religion as a psychological illness and illustrating how men become blind in the pursuit of power, the entire album explodes as one giant symphonic/operatic scenario, with characters who interact with switches in pace and tempo.

As much as I like Dimmu, and Septicflesh for that matter, Blindness failed to resonate with me in anyway. At times it felt like there were several songs being played at the same time, with the hammering blast beats massively overused, and at times railroading the sound into a cacophony of chaos which was jarring to the ears. Tracks like The Cure feature some of the most challenging extreme vocals, with grindcore guttural roars whilst all the time the soprano shrieks of singer O. Mortis wail around the edges.

Including nods to Polish black metal (the likes of Behemoth and Batushka spring to mind) on The Priest is a rather tired and overused style, and whilst I appreciate the storyline requires this track as a new character, it’s a confused mess that doesn’t appear to have any real direction.

There are moments of clarity. The piano introduction to Endless Night Battle works well, and the song does paint the picture, whilst the sheer enormity of concluding track Angels & Devils ticks every part of the ‘epic’ box. There are some more familiar black metal approaches here, with traditional delivery combining with the operatic. It’s certainly one of the better songs on the album, maybe due to the slower and more measured approach, which provides the listener with plenty to explore.

In contrast, there are some pieces which are uncomfortable listening. The chaos of Black Wings is one such example. Flipping that over, War Sonata is a controlled piece which features toxic roars and wails. It has blistering blast beats that once again are overused in my opinion, but the demonic roars of A. Damien certainly do work here.

As you will have established, I’ve struggled to get deeply under the skin with Blindless. I’m certain that this elaborate story and concept will appeal massively to the band’s diehard fans, which I assume is what they will want. It’s not beyond the realms that they could pick up European slots for there are many for who this will appeal. For me, the rather cliched style is something I won’t return to, but I wish PARADISE IN FLAMES all the best with this latest release.

Paul Hutchings