Paradise is an ironic title for a truly dark album. It comes from a band that does not seem to have taken a shower in a while. White Lung feels comfortable with the mud and grease that cakes up its nails. Its fourth album offers a paradise away from a life of crime, but not necessarily a blissful world of good deeds. For the Vancouver-based band, the sins of Ontario killers Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo are perfect reading material for its dark sound.

The textures and insane instrumentation keep the band consistently in the face of its listeners. White Lung talks of murder and the burden of an infant like it was normal dinner table conversation. Each lyric might sound like something torn from an angst-ridden teen’s diary, yet the delivery sends audiences into moshes and headbanging fits. No one will stand still to this record. While influenced by Alexisonfire, Flyleaf and Three Days Grace, White Lung one-ups such bands with thematic maturity. Does the band want to actually commit arson and murder innocent souls? Probably not. Yet Paradise has the emotional power of someone willing to do whatever it takes.

While previous albums like Deep Fantasy and Sorry play with the kind of punk you’d hear in a bad part of town, Paradise amps up the band’s ability to captivate. More emotional, and with great production values, the album still has its shortcomings. Songs are structured to mimic previous tracks, and dark strings could have been lower and grittier. The band fails to swear when it vents something catastrophic, and grows more pop-like in structure, opting for longer songs that stray from punk. That said, Paradise is a fun record, cathartic but not too heavy.

It starts with a maelstrom that never shifts gears. The band hits morbid heights whenever possible. The surprisingly brighter notes of “Below” lead into “They’ll bury your beauty/ Transient living stone.” Vocalist Mish Way sings that no matter how beautiful you are, you will die and rot –and this is her less mocking voice. On “Hungry,” as she sings “Baby, you’re weak/ Baby, you’re starving/ The star will melt/ We’re all hungry for it,” her claws rush in to dig into a slowly dying animal. She plays to an audience that craves sin so much they want to be part of the action, like the prom night bullies who taunt Sissy Spacek in Carrie.

Way talks of infants in the tone of a Disney villain on “Dead Weight” and “Kiss Me When I Bleed,” and speaks of a home invasion with the grit of a wolf on “Vegas.” When she sings of full-blown murder as on “Sister,” there is an all-encompassing fire behind it. She doesn’t care, and that’s what makes White Lung’s audience lust for more. Paradise record functions like a story, where childbirth and a life of crime fit hand-in-hand in a tale not unlike that of Bonnie and Clyde.

Even if Way loses her voice, the rest of the band still elicits chaos. The fast drums and bass of “Narcoleptic” creates some of the darkest material on the album, and “I Beg You” is another strong showcase for Lindsey Troy’s bass and Anne-Marie Vassiliou’s drums. Kenneth William plays guitar like an acrobat.

White Lung has a rough exterior that’s difficult to penetrate. But who would want to when it might mean murder?
Those who love the band’s earlier punk sound may be uncomfortable with the hardcore and pop-structures or Paradise, but it’s an album that’s pitch black for a reason. It wants to tear out its hair, and has no hope for a happy ending.

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