Floor Jansen – Paragon
Release Date: 24/03/23
Running Time: 34:39
Review by Simon Black
Like many people I only really came across the highly impressive Ms. Jansen after she had joined Nightwish in 2013, but the building blocks of this album date back to her days in fellow Symphonic pioneers After Forever. Although highly respected, the band petered out after a decade or so, but this highly anticipated solo album has thematic content dating back from those days, as well as being lynch-pinned around the highly talented multi-instrumentalist Gordon Groothedde. Groothedde had producer duties back in the After Forever days, but he is a hugely talented musician and songwriter in his own right and plays a huge amount of the instrumental content on this album as well as contributing to the song-writing.
She may have been the voice of two fundamental Symphonic Metal acts, but that’s not what “Paragon” is about. Stylistically this is a soaring piece of very mainstream Pop-Rock that just happens to have one of the best Metal vocalists on the planet behind it, which is why it really straddles the two seemingly incompatible audiences very well. At the end of the day, it’s that astounding vocal range, power and charismatic performance that is going to bring people to this album, and Jansen absolutely hits the spot here.
Her vocal performance doesn’t pull any punches at all, so don’t expect a watered-down version of her normal self – it’s just the music is more way less loud and heavy but has lost none of the complexity and technicality behind the arrangements. Whereas in Nightwish, she’s sharing a busy stage with a shed load of talented players bouncing off each other, this record is all about her, and consequently steps back to let her shine. That said the arrangements are far from simplistic, with progressions that allow her to show her enormous range and build presence as the songs unfold. They are also all quite short, all under four minutes and focussed on telling a story, many of which take on a different light when viewed through the prism of her recent battle with cancer (‘Hope’ and ‘Invincible’ in particular).
If you want soaring huge metal epics, then her day job band is where you probably should head, but if you want an insight into what makes Floor tick then yes, you are going to be pleasantly surprised.
‘Me Without You’ Official Video
01. My Paragon
05. Come Full Circle
07. Me Without You
08. The Calm
09. Armoured Wings
Floor Jansen – Vocals
Gordon Groothedde – Bass, Guitars, Drums, Piano & Keys, Strings & Brass, Midi,
Ivo Maarhuis – Drums
Ton Dijkman – Drums
Wouter Hardy – Piano & Keys, Midi, Strings & Brass, Midi
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