Whomever the opponent, pick Claws of Paradise for the early round knockout. Hard rock has a new champion.
This band musters tenacious influences: early Sabbath doom mongering, the skin-breaking riffs of Guns N’ Roses, the scarred blues of grunge’s most wanted. And all this jump started with a nitro shot of brass.
Yes, saxophones and trumpet actually work on this powerful debut.
Brass sections have a dicey past in hard rock. Their formidable blaring often comes off sounding obnoxious, and this alienates rock fans who see no reason to screw with the classic guitar/bass/drum dynamic. But Claws of Paradise pull it off successfully. The horns fit and blend; they sound substantial, yet remain in check. They’re not Count Basie’s brass, but these guys hold their own. They especially shine on the sludgier parts.
Claws of Paradise call to mind some the most original acts of the 1990’s, including Morphine, Alice in Chains, Toadies and Soundgarden. Their effort gives us a supped up, terrifying version of Clutch. The guitar cuts and bruises, the bass stomps and the drums bring it all together.
And we haven’t even gotten to the singing. At least four members throw in on vocals. Their various deliveries heighten the overall aural aesthetic. And their unique harmonies lend some polish to this brawny assault.
Badass rock and roll, with horns. It’s not a new concept, but few bands have attempted it with such a ferocious attitude. It’s not just that this album is one blistering blast after another (think Voodoo Glow Skulls meets "Paranoid" Black Sabbath and then slips into a bloozy hot tub). Well, maybe it is.
The horns really make the sound, too. The whole caffeinated stoner bar band thing is cool, but the horns just set it off. Otherwise you’ve got a low-tech Hanoi Rocks with more guitars. An intriguing idea, to be sure, but one that these boys surpass.
The other key to these songs is that they remain in motion throughout. If the beat wasn’t so insistent, the energy would drain out quickly. But once Claws of Paradise opens up the throttle, there’s no looking back.
A big ball of fun, with some kick-ass riffage as a bonus. One for the testosterone set, to be sure, but even adrenaline junkies prefer quality. And there’s plenty of that here.
If Van Halen had a few more brothers who excelled in the brass section of their high school band, they might have sounded something like Claws of Paradise. Claws’ song "Avenue X," for instance, opens with a pleasantly grooving guitar line reminiscent of Halen’s "Unchained," except right about where you expect the song to crank into the first verse, a subdued blast of trumpet and saxophones falls into the mix.
Their self-titled debut is an amazingly competent and enjoyable amalgamation of modern jazz, classic rock and 1980s metal. The band can leap from Sabbath-era Ozzy to a slow, Morrison-like trance, to pounding, speed metal riffs. All the while, the horns enhance the mood, whether suggesting a lively concert hall vibe or a sultry, smoky nightclub.
Great stuff... CLAWS OF PARADISE send me their latest and I’m all smiles. This one’s full of surprises, right turns from the passing lane kind of shit. Imagine Frank Zappa and the guys from Morphine go drinking with the Jersey Devil, fabulous guitars, drums and a three piece horn section to seal the deal.
- NY Waste / Starr Tucker - http://www.nywaste.com/nyw_main/music/StarrTucker/FebMar08Starr.html
The self-titled disc is ripe with crunchy riffs, swirling cymbals, throwback lyrics, psychedelic guitar solos, tooting horns and raunchy sax. Claws of Paradise is the King Crimson for a new generation.