Parallax - Mediums and Messages (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Mediums and Messages (2006)


Color me surprised.

In a genre I've long considered all but dead and buried, Parallax has injected some life, and more surprisingly (no insult to them) some intelligence into the metalcore genre. Steering clear of the double bass and lyrics about death pitfalls that so many of their peers fall into, Parallax instead offer a fairly diverse and engaging 40 minutes of music.

The intelligence and tackling of social issues on this record is what's most striking, and it's much more important than any quick chord progressions or pounding drum fills could ever be.

In the 1970s Bringham Young University, unbeknownst to the American public, was conducting a hideous and morally repugnant program. The aim of this program was to "cure" gay students of their homosexual nature. This was attempted through an ultimatum of going through electroshock therapy, or being expelled from the university completely. Three students hung themselves as a result of this "program," and many more were mentally scarred in a way that could never be reversed. "Nameless" was a song written about those incidents, and it perfectly encapsulates just how horrible and unforgiving human beings can be.

He will cure us, he will hear our pleas / Rebuild us, remake us. Rebuild us, he will remake in his image, as saintly as he be / […] / Purge these lascivious thoughts, burn them from our flesh / Pluck them from our eyes, no more to crave our own / […] / With aversion and prayers, eyes wide open / I'll make you as straight as any pure man, they did not find Zion in electroshock.
Those words come so fluidly and passionately from the mouth of the late Blake Donner, and the album is full of many similar moments. Sure, the guitar work is great. The progressions are quick and unrelenting, they decline or escalate on a moment's notice, perfectly conforming to the ups and downs of Donner's vocal delivery. And sure, the drumming and bass work are both great in their own right. Neither exemplary, but both strong enough to anchor the heaviness of the record. But Donner, Donner is the real heart and soul of the album. His words become more powerful by the minute, tackling issues such as the oppression of Utah's Mormon churches, to the struggle of the working class man just to survive, each song painting an eloquent but powerful portrait.

Inevitably, many people will look at this as just another metalcore record. Another one to throw on the pile. And to those people, I say -- you're missing the boat entirely. Mediums and Messages has passion, intensity, and sincerity in spades. Great musicianship and a message to match, I wish there was more like it.