Fission - Pain Parade
Aphotic Records
Melodic Progressive Thrash
8 songs (47'04")
Release year: 2008
Reviewed by Alex

Few are more productive in the realm of music than Andreas Hedlund, better known as Vintersorg. The man seems to have more ideas that he needs to express than anyone else in metal. For every facet of his creative ego he has a band or project to go to. From more or less complete control (Vintersorg) to providing a prominent vocal presence (Borknagar), from folksy progressive music (Vintersorg) which evolved from distinctive black metal style to progressive avant-garde (Cronian) to outright jazz-rock (Waterclime) to basically folk (Otyg rumored to be coming back) – the man covers seemingly a complete range of metal genre leaving no stone unturned. Thus, Fission simply represents another spec in Vintersorg’s mosaic, providing a glimpse of his take on more modern progressive melodic thrash. Well, trying to describe Pain Parade with one simple cliché is mighty tough, as true to himself Vintersorg could not keep the music in the land of straightforward.

Pairing up with Benny Hagglund (who also drums for TME which has a pair of Vintersorg musicians in his ranks), Fission proclaims and attempts to stick to melodic aggressiveness, yet branches out every chance it gets. The first couple of songs, Chains and Frequency Control, make the most effort to conform to the blueprint with forceful edgy jumpy riffs leading the way. Frequency Control, at first, could pose for a better recent Soilwork song. Chains hints of only glimpses of clean Vintersorg vocals, but already begins to roll dreamy keyboards and even a quick breakdown into its composition.

Not being able to help himself, beginning with Dear Frenzy! the songs diversify tremendously, Vintersorg mixing equal parts progressive and thrashy. So well recognizable, clean, distinct, captivating, mountain climbing voice assumes further and further majority of Pain Parade vocals, as the album rolls along. Atmospherics, chuggy riffing and rapid fire drumming alternate in the title cut, Collision and Collapse swing from catchy harsh opening riffs to progressive sidestep to something of a gothic choir. Earthquaker and Dear Frenzy! represent the points where this soup gets a bit too unwieldy for my taste, as the heart longed for the promise of a harder melodic and thrashier edge, provided earlier on in the album, and revisited again in the folky melody of Machination, very reminiscent of early Kalmah. Given the authors’ unabashed non-conformism, surprisingly, the closing acoustic 2nd part of Frequency Control, with it violin and piano, sounds way too quiet and timid, when it could have been just as fantastic as the finish of Cosmic Genesis title track.

As Vintersorg purged the eponymous project of just about everything not bearing the progressive label with Visions from the Spiral Generator and The Focusing Blur, I had a strange feeling that Pain Parade could have followed the stunning Cosmic Genesis, had Vintersorg decided to keep that band more clear-cut and basic. Where Cosmis Genesis originated from the man’s early black metal leanings and had a lot of texture in it sound, Pain Parade is a ton more defined in the riffing department, but absolutely does not hesitate to dive into ambiance to make the music complete. Even Pain Parade keyboard tone, which is how I imagine Moog/Hammond organ to sound, would have been a logical continuation from more earnest folky Cosmic Genesis.

The album tends to get better as you listen to it repeatedly, which is probably a testament to hidden depth rather than superficial simplicity. My petty criticism aside, Pain Parade holds together based on its musicality, ability to ride just on the edge of coherence and, of course, Vintersorg’s amazing voice. The danger is there for some to label Pain Parade aggression watered down, while at the same time those with tastes for complex music could feel the progressive spiral also to be wound up only halfway. I certainly hope the album receives good enough distribution to win the hearts and minds on both side of this divide, as the gap is mostly bridged.

Killing Songs :
Chains, Frequency Control, Machination
Alex quoted 75 / 100
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