HEAVY METAL & THE GLOBAL PANDEMIC: New Jersey’s Crossover Thrashers Paralysis

Heavy Metal and the Global Pandemic is a new series that focuses on examining how metal bands are dealing with the COVID-19 world. Heavy Metal is unique as a genre for often writing songs steeped in dystopian imagery, the darker side of the human condition, and of course – death. However, these are unprecedented times for everyone, including musicians with an inclination for chaos.

Long Valley, New Jersey’s Paralysis has been fusing thrash metal and East Coast hardcore since 2010. With a couple of EP’s and two full-length albums, the band has quickly earned critical acclaim for both their songwriting and the feral energy that comes through in their recordings. Led by vocalist/guitarist Jon Plemenik, along with lead guitarist Ron Iglesias, bassist Patrick Harte, and drummer Samith Force, Paralysis has been compared to contemporaries like Power Trip, Iron Reagan, and Red Death, yet still maintain a sound that’s unique to themselves.

From the press release:

Paralysis fuses thrash metal sensibilities with the kinetic, juggernaut brawn of old-school East Coast hardcore and the relentless savagery of Tampa-area death metal. While hardly a progressive band in the traditional sense, the band balances brevity with abundance, merging unorthodox song structures with rapid-fire power chords and bludgeoning pit riffs. It’s all punctuated by vocalist/guitarist Jon Plemenik who wages war with his angst-ridden, vitriolic barks centered on a host of personal and relatable struggles, including abuse of trust.

The bands latest offering, Mob Justice, was released in May, but their June tour was soon scrapped as a result of the pandemic. We caught up with Jon Plemenik to see how the band is dealing with these unprecedented times. You can also follow the band on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your band, be it cancelled tours or studio time?

Jon Plemenik: So far, it really hasn’t affected us as a band since two of us live in New Jersey and two of us live in Florida. We’re used to not being able to do so much as it is. However, we were supposed to tour in June.

Where are you sheltering in place and what are your circumstances? Are you alone or with family? How are you coping?

Jon Plemenik: So far, I have been sheltering at home with my mom, my girlfriend, and my dog, Zoey. So far, it hasn’t been that bad since we have each other and a decent amount of things to do at home.

How are the members of your band staying connected?

Jon Plemenik: We have been staying connected through the internet. We tried using Zoom a couple times too, which worked out pretty well for us.

Concepts of “virus” and “pandemic” are no strangers to heavy metal lyrics and imagery. Is it strange that we’re now living in such a world? Also, have the current circumstances provided any inspiration for writing new material?

Jon Plemenik: I would say it is pretty surreal going through something like this. Sometimes I’ll take car rides to get out of the house and it’s pretty crazy seeing everything without people and cars. It feels very post-apocalyptic. Not for me personally, but our bassist Patrick Harte has been coming up with a lot of cool new material.

The absence of live music is no doubt affecting the audiences and communities who thrive on the experience of seeing bands perform. But, as performers, what’s it like for you not knowing when you will be able to return to the stage?

Jon Plemenik: It really hasn’t, I guess, hit me yet…but, I love going out on the road, so I feel in a month or two it might start to come down harder on me.

Music provides solace for many in times of hardship. What have you been listening to in these strange and uncertain times?

Jon Plemenik: Some recent things I have been jamming have been Faith No More’s The Real Thing and Drain’s new album, California Cursed. Also, another album that can always put me in a good mood is The Ultimate Sin by Ozzy.

Paralysis’ LP, Mob Justice, is available via Bandcamp.


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