Pariah – Blaze of Obscurity - 4/5
The history of this band is a little muddled, due to the frequent moniker changes. The band began life under the flag of Satan (UK). After releasing a NWOBHM classic in Court in the Act, they released Suspended Sentence, which showed the band’s desire to get into the thriving thrash scene of the time. They renamed the band (twice), re-vamped the sound, and through this burst of change, Pariah was born. The sound goes back to the style of Satan’s Suspended Sentence, but this time, the guys pull it off. After releasing a small number of records, the band reformed into some other bands, most notably folk-metal pioneers, Skyclad.
Any fan of the any the bands incarnations will tell you that one thing Pariah delivers is solid guitar-driven metal. Not only is the music solid, but the song writing and concept themes are interesting and well formed. Every song here is unique, and most of them are interesting in different ways then the last. There is absolutely no filler here. Russ Tippins and Steve Ramsey provide some of the best riff work in recent memory, and manage to show off their chops without coming off as wankers. Michael Jackson (no, not that Michael Jackson) provides a set of vocals that match this attitude perfectly. He is not some punk-esque barker, or a deathrash growler, but still keeps a feeling of dirty seriousness that adds to the serious play of the lyrics. The rhythm section isn’t lacking with Graeme English on bass and Sean Taylor on drums, but they come more as solid then memorable, especially when compared to these exquisite vocal and guitar work.
The songs themselves deserve special mention for their differing qualities. The title track, Blaze of Obscurity is the most moody here. Canary, my personal favorite, has a feeling that comes off as progressive without being forced. Retaliate!, Puppet Regime, and The Brotherhood play the role of thrash anthems, while Missionary of Mercy and Hypochondriac explore unusual lyrical themes. The only song I did not like was fore-mentioned Hypochondriac, due to the feel of Master of Puppets that borders on rip-off, but I will leave that for others to decide. I have never been the expert of riff recognition.
The one problem I have with this is the lack of spectacularity. There is very little to separate this band from other classic thrash acts, so while they deserve this special mention, they certainly were not the possible over-looked saviors of the genre. If you are a thrash fan looking for a forgotten gem, look no further, but if your search is for something different from what you might expect, this will not be your holy grail.
It is unfortunate that this and Tysondog are the over-looked incarnations of this band. Fans of Satan, Skyclad, and Blind Fury, and to a lesser extent, Angel Witch, Raven, and Blitzkrieg, owe it to themselves to give this a spin, and I promise you will not be disappointed. There are far worse bands out there that get a lot more attention then these veterans, and here is your chance to rejuvenate some of those warm fuzzy feelings of the eighties.
By C.J. Ulferts