By Carl Begai
Former Blood Stain Child vocalist Sophia Aslanidou broke away from the band after only one album and sporadic touring due to personal and creative differences. An unfortunate situation, but rather than crawling into a corner to die a scorned artist’s death she picked herself up and invested all her time, energy and remaining sanity in a full-on solo project, Season Of Ghosts. The Human Paradox is in fact a collaboration between Sophia, Italian horror metal genius/composer Zombie Sam, and multi-instrumentalist NeroArgento, resulting in off-kilter album boasting equal parts metal and orchestral soundtrack (with occasional death metal growls scattered hither and yon) that never quite goes where you expect. It’s for this reason that when things slow down or become uncomfortably weird you can’t actually bring yourself to skip to the next track. A well crafted sonic adventure with a remarkable payload of earworm vocal melodies, The Human Paradox keeps you wondering what’s lurking around each corner as you weave your way through it.
Blood Stain Child fans may be pleased to know the trance elements that accompanied Sophia’s entrance for the Epsilon album, only this time out her voice isn’t auto-tuned to death. She’s able to explore her (surprising) full range, doing so right out of the box with ‘Genesis’ and ‘Time Travellers’, two of the heaviest tracks on the record. Hearing her low range on ‘Dream: Paralysis’ and ‘The Human Paradox’ is a welcome touch, the title track played out with the strength of any X Japan ballad right down to some spoken word (Sophia is welcome to read me the phone book anytime). The middle of the album holds perhaps the two biggest surprises for people who think they have Season Of Ghosts figured out, as the full-on technotronic assault of ‘[NE]: MESIS – The Kiss Of Justice’ is enough to yank you out of any developing symphonic metal mindset, only to be slammed back to earth by the crushing yet melodic ‘Beautiful Eternal Things’ (imagine the Terminator theme music turned into a song).
What amounts to Act 3 of The Human Paradox – the last four tracks – is spread out between a ballad (‘The Road To Acheron’), an effective metal assault (‘Quantum’), another ballad (‘Reincarnation’), and a too-short instrumental outro worthy of any big screen Hollywood fantasy film (‘There And Back Again’). And while it may be the weakest third of the album in my humble opinion, there’s no denying that The Human Paradox works as a complete production. An open mind is required and preconceived notions about Sophia’s Visual Kei image versus her music need to be left at the door; Season Of Ghosts is for folks with an open mind and healthy imagination.
An impressive and occasionally stunning work of art.
‘Nothing Disappears Without A Trace’
‘Genesis – The Phoenix Syndrome’
‘The Human Paradox’
‘[NE]: MESIS – The Kiss Of Justice’
‘Beautiful Eternal Things’
‘Dreaming In The Gray Lands’
‘The Road To Acheron’
‘Quantum – Through The Looking Glass’
‘There And Back Again’
My first interview with Sophia from earlier this year can be found here.