Tales of the Weird showcases Paradox’s scorching thrash-metal riffs, should finally take them beyond cult status in US

Any album which opens with a ten-minute epic of prog-metal magnificence deserves a rapid ascent on this critic’s radar. “Tales of the Weird,” the title track off German cult trash-metal act Paradox’s latest album, sets the table for significant ear-bending, and the album’s off and flying from there.

Not that they’re new to the game or anything of the sort — these guys have been out there rocking with the likes of Ozzy Osbourne and Judas Priest since the mid-80s, and they’ve been giants of German metal since their first Roadrunner album Product of Imagination in 1987. Still, it’s incredible to hear just how seriously they’re still capable of crafting mind-altering riffage.

“Day of Judgment,” “Brutalized” and “Fragile Alliance” offer a three-tier gut-punch following the title-track’s initial barrage, and the band never lets up an ounce from there. The thundering percussion and skin-shredding guitar work on “Escalation” sits perfectly with the best songs they’ve ever recorded. Listen to this album straight through and you’ll understand why Paradox remains, at least in America, the best-kept secret of German metal. Here’s hoping Tales of the Weird eliminates the “secret” element from that equation.