Every so often, the news decides to make a spectacle regarding some local “nutjob” who claims aliens hovered above his home. Perhaps, it’s someone who is even so “misled” as to believe they were abducted, even, or body-snatched. Whether or not you choose to believe these people, or write them off–just like the doubtful newscaster interviewing them–is entirely up to you. The point of the matter is this–there are entire subsets of people who devote their lives to the borderline-obsessive study of alien life. This should come as no shock–just the same as the awe-inspiring nature of technical deathcore act Meridian’s album Paradigm should come as no shock. Inspired by sci-fi stories and life from faraway universes, Meridian’s debut release is simply out of this world. Featuring stunning riffs, unique vocal assaults and planet-cracking breakdowns, Paradigm is an album which, like life on Mars, you have to observe yourself to believe.
Opening with “Introductory Sequence,” Meridian’s technical prowess simply cannot be denied. A spine-cracking breakdown wrapped inside of an odd time signature flows smoothly into the first full track, “Triplanetary Alignment,” which is a true spectacle to behold. Simply dazzling lead riffs take over for the downtuned chugging the listener was accustomed to, while the drumming picks up the pace and wages a full-blown assault on the listener’s ears. Meanwhile, rumbling bass links the gap between the two, keeping up with the candor of the galloping bass drum, while intertwining itself between the mesmerizing leads of the guitar. This trend follows throughout the entire album–“Endothermic Desecration” featuring a particularly catchy, hooky guitar line, which transitions brilliantly through a somewhat gimmicky, almost carnival-themed interlude into a series of gut-wrenching, soul-shredding breakdowns. The instrumental assault continues when, rather than succumb to the back-bending heaviness of the sludgy, hard-hitting slams, the track soars back into an ethereal, sky-scraping series of solos. All the while, splashy cymbal work and blistering percussion keep the song on track, when it flows perfectly into “Ethereal Existence,” which sees the band functioning together in perfect unison.
Meridian’s musical mastery doesn’t end with the simple prowess packed into their instrumentation, however. The vocal onslaught seen throughout Paradigm is second to none. While the listener mind find themselves initially cringing at the clean vocals on the first full-length track, “Triplanetary Alignment,” soon enough, the cleans work themselves into the song structure and find their place perfectly scattered throughout the album’s tracks. These touches of vocal harmonization and melody beautifully accompany the band’s electronic elements, as well as their proclivity to craft a dynamic heavy-soft atmosphere which relies on the contrast between soul-splitting breakdowns, catchy grooves and noodling, technically marvelous solos. All the while, the vocals follow suit, never out of place. Whether making use of a mid-range yell, a high-pitched scream or a bellowed, low growl, the vocals follow the atmosphere of the instruments perfectly. Topped off with a spacey, bizarre, melo-death croon, the vocals craft an immersive, intergalactic dynamic the likes of which other groovy, hard-hitting deathcore acts could only hope to achieve.
It’s this dynamic which enables Paradigm to stand out so much from the likes of its peers. Meridian are able to combine sheer, relentless heaviness with soothing, stellar melody with just enough of a galactic gimmick to create a believable, intangible atmosphere for the listener to get lost in. Take “Ethereal Existence,” for example. With rampant, rollicking shred and earth-shaking groove and heaviness, the track is already good, but what really sends the song skywards are the electronic touches throughout the track, and the almost-gimmicky but superbly-done classical guitar segment towards the track’s conclusion. These moments which might make other bands come across as corny or contrived, rather, convince the listener that Meridian are committed to their sound and their style–enough so to let the listener get truly lost in space when it comes to the theme of their album. Fundamentally, it’s this simple: Meridian are a band which do what they do so well that, when synth kicks in to transition to the next soul-splitting breakdown, or when classical guitar takes over the last thirty seconds of an otherwise space-themed song, the listener doesn’t shake their head in confusion, but rather nods it in awe.
If you’ve always wanted to soar through the stars, but don’t have the time, money or wherewithal to go through NASA training, then just pick up Meridian’s new release, Paradigm. In no time, you’ll find yourself studying extraterrestrials, fighting enemy spacecraft and exploring faraway planets vis-à-vis the band’s crushing heaviness, catchy riffs and captivating grooves.
For Fans Of: Veil of Maya, The Contortionist, Born of Osiris, Bermuda
By: Connor Welsh