Enrique Marquez Paris, who goes by the moniker PAARIS, has just dropped his latest EP Valhalla. In it, PAARIS collaborates with some stalwarts of the guitar driven metal scene. The EP features exciting collaborations with well-known names from the rock, metal, and prog scene, such as Anup Sastry (Intervals, Monuments, Marty Friedman), Joey Izzo (Arch Echo), Rodner Padilla (C4 Trio), Jason Kui, and Sophie Burrell. But what can you as a listener expect?
For starters, unadulterated energy. The project is driven, carried, and steered by a thumping electric guitar. But it’s not one that overwhelms you. It flows with emotion, as if PAARIS is singing through each note, calling to his listener to journey alongside him as he embarks on the rhythmic solos that dominate the EP. Instrumental music may often be mischaracterised as niche, not for the average listener, or a savant’s fantasy. But in the case of Valhalla, that description couldn’t be further from the truth. The EP is easily enjoyable, it radiates the sounds and energy that fill mainstream hard rock and metal but at a level that is more focused and synergised. It trades in the vocal performances for a more cohesive instrumental ensemble.
The titular track almost signals the concept its named after. Evoking the very feelings of war, the afterlife, and salvation, the emotion behind the strings are more powerful here than on any other piece. PAARIS leaves each note hanging for a while longer than you’d expect, just to tag on that little bit extra touch.
Maverick is a tad heavier, incorporating a more rigorous strumming with a more aggressive drum performance. Polaris takes it a notch higher, with a heavy riff being underpinned and driven by a futuristic electric solo. PAARIS’s electric guitar is the soul of the album. The instrumental ensemble around it is merely the supporting cast. Flow starts with a subtle key performance before ascending to same highs as its predecessors. Filo Rosso is perhaps the standout, especially the latter half where the track slowly comes to a close, along with the album as a whole.
Instrumental music might not be immediate favourites for most, but PAARIS’s project is an instant ear pleaser for any rock enthusiasts out there. Clocking in at five tracks long and roughly under half an hour in duration, it’s a quick yet memorable experiential listen. Guitar lovers – from Santana to Satriani – will all find something unique and special on this project. Each song doesn’t differentiate itself too much from the predecessor, rather it serves as a singular collective piece segregated into five moments each. Listen to it as one, and feel it as one.