Parius – The Signal Heard throughout Space Review

“This reeks of your elitism.” The words that every self-important purveyor of opinions at wants to hear. As a fan of all things progressive and experimental, Philadelphia’s Parius was recommended to me by our esteemed editorial staff. Their third record entitled The Signal Heard throughout Space tells the conceptual tale of a space traveler journeying to respond to a distress signal. Parius examined rock operas from Jesus Christ Superstar to Ziltoid the Omniscient in producing five albums’ worth of music, subsequently distilled into these 60 minutes. Rock operas and concepts can elevate, but not substitute, good music. How do these grandiose concepts and ambitious operatics translate to musical output?

The Signal is an overtly progressive affair, with Dream Theater and Between the Buried and Me being the most obvious influences, but also featuring slivers of the sadly-defunct Native Construct. The big center-piece entitled “The Acid Lake of Gannymede” demonstrates most of the core elements of the record, including: an atmospheric introduction laden with cosmic synths; interesting, intricate guitar riffs; a tranquil piano interlude; and death metal influences conveyed through occasional chugging leads and harsh vocals. It’s a track that’s big in length and scope, attempting to depict the album’s central journey and a key destination across 10 entire minutes. I’ll also linger on The Signal’s synths; given the record’s concept, spacey electronics feature heavily. This is especially notable on “Dimension Y” which sounds like a heavy Tears for Fears track, leveraging dark synths, plaintive singing and a groovy bassline. I am reliably informed by Parius’s one sheet that the group has previously courted death metal fans, but here it features but fleetingly on a few tracks.

This unfortunately leads into my first complaint: while the infrequent harsh vocals are surprisingly varied, mixing screams with guttural growls, the prevalent clean vocals somewhat let the side down. They’re technically competent but thin, lacking depth and power. This is partly the singer but partly the production, which mixes the vocals lower than the influences mentioned above. The silly, on-the-nose lyrics compound this. They’re logical on an album which doesn’t take itself too seriously but the likes of Dream Theater and BTBAM are able to marry silly concepts with memorable melodies and song-writing12. Without emphatic delivery, the vocal melodies struggle to stand out. This leaves the melodic heavy lifting and hooks to the guitars, which are solid but not great. The Signal isn’t melodically strong enough as the hooks don’t really sink in and individual songs aren’t particularly memorable.

The amount of change described for “The Acid Lake of Gannymede” is not atypical across the record. Development is frequent and can be dramatic, as one would expect of something progressive. But The Signal deviates too far from tasteful progression for my ears. The opening called “Spacelog.0245” is frenetic, even unfocused, as it moves through the gears of cosmic synths, acoustic melodies and spoken word story-telling before reaching proper heaviness. It’s too long and too changeable for an introduction, ultimately being worse than if just a few of its ideas were used over a 2-3 minute span. While I enjoy the moments of tension where the grander, airier moments transition into a crunchier, modern tone (this happens a few times on “The Signal”), passages generally change too frequently and don’t build or layer in a cohesive way. Most songs meander through different tempos, melodies and tones without much apparent direction. It’s clearly a “journey-not-the-destination” release (both musically and in concept!) but the constant variation means no musical landmarks stand out.

My score feels harsh given the solid leads and proficient performances but I’m just not enjoying The Signal. I don’t buy into the Parius melodies and there are insufficient rewards during the songs to warrant the time investment required. This is especially egregious across the 10-minute (“The Acid Lake of Gannymede”) and 13-minute (“Arecibo”) tracks. Chinks of talent and progressive sophistication only serve to highlight a majority that fails to engage me. So, in short: no. The music here is not saved by the story.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps MP3
Label: Willowtip Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: October 7th, 2022

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Notwithstanding the fact that Dream Theater might be the most overrated progressive band ever.
  2. No wait, that’s Tool.
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