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March 14, 2005

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Prior to buckling down to write this review, I spent a few minutes going over what I wrote about PAINT IT BLACK's debut, CVA, and drawing comparisons to my thoughts then, and now concerning Paradise. Needless to say, I'm just as blown away from PAINT IT BLACK's brand of hardcore now as I was a couple of years ago, and still Paradise is largely an entirely different animal than CVA. There's something inherently funny is typing the fact that PAINT IT BLACK has vastly opened up its sound to now include songs that almost span two minutes, but it's perhaps the most obvious development in the band since its inception - well that, and a dripping sense of melody and seriousness.

The 14 songs that make up Paradise deliver a teeth-gnashing assault in roughly 21 minutes, and virtually every listen leaves you wondering how the damn thing ended so quickly. Dave Wagenschultz still drums harder than virtually anyone else in the business, and that kind of out-of-control playing is the tasmanian devil backbone that's constantly growling in the center of things. From the speedball travels of "365" to the breakdown friendly timings of "Labor Day," Wagenschultz 's playing is the kind that reminds me every day that I need to learn how to play the drums before I become old and feeble. Of course, the percussion momentum is slapped silly with the smokin' guitars of Colin McGinniss, and of course, ring-leader Dan Yemin's venomous vocal eruptions. As has been widely noted since Yemin took over vocals for the first time among all the legendary bands he's played in (LIFETIME, KID DYNAMITE), Yemin culls together a degree of anger/emotion that's practically frightening. I've never met the man, but I'm drawn to a vision of him having this massive, bulging vein racing across his forehead. Maybe the best way to describe Yemin's vocal demeanor is the acknowledgment that he means every word he shouts 110% and he's got the scars to prove it. Helping out with "melodious assistance" (as the insert booklet notes) is former TRIAL BY FIRE vocalist Jason Yawn, and current THE LOVED ONES frontman, Dave Hause. The two fellas chime in effectively by working in a give-and-go setup with Yemin, creating the effect of vocals swirling around the mix in a handful of songs. It's a nice touch, both musically, and in bringing together members of the Jade Tree family.

Just as enthralling as PAINT IT BLACK's music is Yemin's lyrical content, and it's autobiographical nature. The most memorable lyrics are the last ones sung on Paradise, from the song "Memorial Day," with the folk-like sing-along "So here's to the skinned knees and sutured hearts. Here's to the unhappy endings and all the false starts." I rarely go to shows anymore, but a line like that begs of me to put down the excuses, get in the car, and drive myself into that very sweak-soaked sing-along. It's the kind of involvment that has crowd-participation written all over it, and by far, a step out of line with anything else PAINT IT BLACK has ever written. Additionally, lyrics from "The New Brutality," ("You wonder why we always play it safe? Our creature comforts are tying us down, and holding us back") and "Burn The Hive," ("You'll teach us just who to avoid. We're suspicious, frightened, and paranoid") send voltage through my system. Yemin's content is on par with latter day words by Greg Graffin and Brett Gurewitz, but delivered with a hardcore ferocity that doesn't make talking about social change seem like a lost cause, or at least one fraught with skepticism.

To borrow a line from Deep Fry Bonanza's review of this album, Paradise just fucking rips. It's the sound of the eye-opening amazement that drew so many of us into punk and hardcore in the first place, and for that, it will always feel like home.

Paste Punk

Jordan A. Baker