Paradise in Flames – Devil’s Collection Review

It’s the ol’ standby when I can’t think of any other way to introduce a review. And it goes like this: you can tell a lot about an album by its cover. Well, unless it’s Paradise in Flames. Third full-length Devil’s Collection’s artwork seems to conjure a range of clichés throughout the known metalverse.1 An intersection of potential genres, Devil’s Collection seems to simultaneously conjure melodeath color scheme a la Eternal Storm, black metal occultism of Emperor, or that dime-a-dozen I Declare War-shipping deathcore release of which you find 10/10 reviews on The Circle Pit. So what does the music offer us?

Paradise in Flames is a Brazilian black metal quartet, having released two albums, two demos, and an EP since their 2003 formation. While their third full-length’s cover poses questions, a glance at their promo confuses further. They cite death metal countrymen Sepultura and Sarcófago as influences, while the Devil’s Collection was mastered by producer Tue Madsen of Meshuggah and Dark Tranquility fame. Such first impressions are baffling, but the looming question is: is Devil’s Collection any good? Featuring a clean and accessible mix, with blastbeats, crunchy riffs, chugs, tortured shrieks, and death growls galore, as well as operatic female vocals and symphonic textures, Paradise in Flames offers a single straightforward answer to the many questions it poses: it’s okay.

What Paradise in Flames does well is a riffier interpretation of black metal, in the same vein as Master’s Hammer or Inquisition,2 while operatic or symphonic textures soar o’er the fray. Devil’s Collection feels like everything and the kitchen sink, an all-out ballast in favor of subtlety. Tracks like “The Tepes,” “Hell’s Now,” “I’m Sure You Gods Have Seen This Before,” and “Devil From the Sky” benefit, relying on Anaal Nathrakh-esque intensity and multifaceted vocal attack, Aosoth’s groove, and deathcore-esque chugs (which work!). Tasteful guitar solos are scattered throughout, while Gothenburg melodeath passages periodically grace eerie orchestral textures in “It’s All Wrong” and “Has Never Seen a World Without War” for a Dissection meets Carach Angren meets Behemoth vision of fury and exotic melodies. Ultimately, while Devil’s Collection is nowhere near the ballpark of “kvlt” (and not only because of their light dusting of corpse-paint) with hell-scraping deathy gutturals, melodeath leads, and symphonic flourishes a little too similar to mainstream blackened groups like Dimmu Borgir or Cradle of Filth, it nonetheless has redeeming qualities.

Devil’s Collection’s most glaring setback is its songwriting, worsened by faulty percussion. Tue Madsen does a stellar job in the mix, balancing tasteful crunch with soaring symphonic melody and punchy snare, but the drum performance simply feels as if it can’t keep up. While “Has Never Seen a World Without Wars” uses the marching drumbeats for the benefit of its nearly ritualistic feel, tracks that rely on blistering speed, like “Satan’s Law” and “It’s All Wrong” collapse tragically under the scoliotic backbone of sloppy and off-rhythm blastbeats. Tightening up the drum performance, however, would only mask amateur songwriting. Even highlights like “Hell’s Now” or “I’m Sure You Gods Have Seen This Before” never quite reach their potential, thanks to jarring passage transitions and uneven performances. Furthermore, tracks like “Nahemah’s Possession” and “Satan’s Law” try to slow things down, but their attempt at doom comes across as stale and lethargic, and instrumental outro “No Life On Earth” does nothing, as it just ends the album with awkwardly short directionless symphonic synth textures. It’s a bit of a dilemma, as Paradise in Flames is at its best in blistering riffy assault, but their percussion and songwriting cannot match the needed energy.

Musically, Paradise in Flames’ cover is pretty accurate. In the violent abandonment of subtlety, it piles symphonic textures, melodeath, and touches of deathcore atop a black metal template, to ultimately mixed results. While it certainly has moments of riffy or chuggy kickassery, fantastic vocals, and a nice mix to boot, the band can’t stop tripping over two left feet. With a subpar drum performance and jarring songwriting, it’s hard to justify giving Devil’s Collection too much attention in spite of its blasting perks unless you’re willing to listen to off-brand Dimmu Borgir. Thankfully, it’s not beyond hope, as Paradise in Flames exudes potential like the cover’s skull oozes blue, um, “expelliarmus” light. However, Devil’s Collection slathers a million ideas into a forty minute listen that never quite finds its footing, hemorrhaging aural confusion in the gleeful slaughter of subtlety and channeling the cliched chaos its cover depicts.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Blood Blast Distribution
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: October 9th, 2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Literacy is metal as fuck.
  2. Less pervy tho.
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