After BioGenesis

Paramnesia represents the debut release from experienced newcomers (ex-BioGenesis members) AfterWinter. This epic conceptual work, spanning over 100 minutes, answers the question: what have the ex-members of BioGenesis been up to over the past few years after their departure from the band?

Constructively, Chaz Bond went on to create Rise of the Phoenix (2021) before putting the band on (permanent?) hiatus. But what have all those talented musicians who appeared on A Decadence Divine (2017) and Black Widow (2018) been working on?

Conceptual Metal

Consequently, within the answer to that question, fans of deep storytelling through metal music and rock will find much to enjoy. While Queensryche’s classic Operation: Mindcrime paved the way for progressive metallers to go cinematic and epic, Paramnesia will appeal to those who have similarly found inspiration and intrigue from the likes of Shadow Gallery’s Tyranny/Room V sequence, Spock’s Beard’s Snow, and more Christian-centered epics like The Scream of the Guillotine and the recently revamped Camelot in Smithereens by Deliverance. In fact, in some ways, Paramnesia finds the most in common with the latter, at least in terms of the lyrical content. However, musically, this has the most in common with Dream Theater’s epic Scenes from a Memory.

To avoid regurgitating what Roxx Records summarizes so succinctly about the concept/story, I will refer you to the Paramnesia label release page HERE. Suffice it to say, the band addresses difficult issues within the faith, particularly how to deal with mental illness and its impact within the church body, but they do so in a respectful and impactful manner, all the while within the context of great storytelling (some interesting surprises/twists).


However, for those not familiar with the AfterWinter line-up, there have been some modifications from the roles in BioGenesis. Most significantly, Majennica Nealeigh (who previously played drums) takes on the lead/front vocal role and is accompanied by Jerry Grazioso (vocals). Luke Nealeigh (songwriter/guitarist/producer) is accompanied by James Riggs (guitars), Dan Nealeigh (bass), Sam Nealeigh (keys) and Eli Closson (drums). This recipe of players adds up to a mix of talent uninhibited in exhibiting their musical creativity and muscle.

[Note: These divisions (“Acts”) represent journalistic license on the part of this author and don’t necessarily reflect the intent of the band. However, from a critique standpoint, 100 minutes of music is hard to digest as one entire piece and therefore I “propose” the following segmentation which is based on my observations of how the story flows and where “intermissions” might be applied if this opus was put to the big stage.]


Act I

Scene 1

Impressively, right from the first piano note of Paramnesia it’s apparent that tremendous care was placed in the construction and intricacy of these songs. The opening “Sleeping Torment” provides a brief introduction to the story, most of the narrative contained within the expansive 20-page booklet. The music quickly transitions from dreamy to intense with the complex “Left for Dead.” Dream Theater comes to ear as we are introduced to Majennica’s vocal lead (Detective Riley Stone), her compelling alto blending nicely with the frenzy of crunchy guitars, keys, bass leads and percussive drumming driving the AfterWinter machine.

Moving deeper into the story, “Losing Myself” introduces the voice of Jerry Grazioso (brother Thomas Stone) as the duo of both spoken word and singing between the siblings further delineates not only the crux of the tale but also reveals more of the AfterWinter signature sound.

The keyboards once again open the epic “Connections” with majestic grandeur as Riley continues to “investigate” the murder scenes and victims. In true prog metal fashion, this song features a plethora of virtuosic solos within a sea of tempo and time changes. As a point of observation, many of the songs on Paramnesia are quite lengthy, and while some of them could benefit from some editing, for the most part, the flow both within and between the tracks is seamless.

Subsequently, “Time Runs Shorts” continues with this more “narrative” vocal approach as Riley continues to unravel the clues presented to her.

Scene 2

Unfortunately, the investigation comes to a halt in a grocery store where Thomas is mistakenly identified by another shopper as a “protestor” from a recent gay marriage celebration. The confrontation unfortunately triggers in Thomas a mental break/seizure causing the siblings to flee the scene. Fans of “music only” narrative might find this break tedious, but I think the band handles it well – the “interlude” of sorts serving to stimulate further questions into the actions of certain “Christian activist” movements.

Furthermore, the event proves to be an important stimulus to Riley taking “A Glimpse in the Mirror.” During Thomas’s recovery he provides insight into the nature of his mental illness:

“I hear the voices … Mystery stealing memory/perplexity from complexity/Only everybody sees me acting like an animal”

Subsequently, the song wonderfully transforms from Thomas’s post-ictal vulnerability into a nightmare revelation for Riley through a series of musical expressions – halting rhythmic syncopation, the acoustic guitar lead reverie of the childhood sibling bond of brother and sister replete with flamenco solo, and finally the ominous riffing leading up to Riley’s frantic dream state. An amazingly well-written song, it serves in a way as a two-part finale to Act I of the play as Riley, through her brother’s crisis, comes to the frightening realization that she may be the murderer in her own investigation!

Act II

Scene 1

Shockingly, shaken by the vivid reality of her dreams, convicted by the evidence revealed to her, Riley takes the “Fall” during the opening scene in what I’ve labeled “Act II.” The hauntingly beautiful keys of Sam Nealeigh sparkle the opening to the song, perfectly reflecting musically the brokenness and humility Riley is experiencing, even as Thomas tries to console her. The intensity of the guitar riffs ramp up as Thomas and Riley “disagree” with her conclusions about the events.

Imperfect Conviction” features Riley’s confession to her partner Sgt. Orion (Harry Mills). The lengthy track breaks down to acoustic guitar around the 3:20 mark as Riley pleads in prayer for deliverance and forgiveness from her “broken mind.” This segment features an entirely new side of the band/group of musicians we didn’t see when they were in BioGenesis. I love how they build the song gradually back to pace and metal edge, replete with guitar shred solo, to the final section of dialog between Riley (confession complete) and “Peter,” presumably a nearby listener who commiserates,

“I believed so once as well/A child’s life ruined for my mistake/When I sought escape from my past/God shined through for my sake/Listen for His Word/it may not come how you expect/You may not hear an actual voice … Maybe you missed your answer/and you should ask again”

Scene 2

Revealingly, “Unveiled” exposes the deeper truth behind Riley’s pat confession as she begins to question her brother’s motives and urgings considering his aggressive response to her plea for redemption inspired by “Peter.”

Interestingly, this theory is put to test as “A Missing Piece” falls into place. In cinematic fashion, keyboard samplings abound during the opening of the song followed by the beautiful “enlightening” melody accompanying Riley’s realization about her brother. The heavy riffage which follows builds with intensity as Sgt. Orion questions the validity of Riley’s confession, ultimately leading to the decision to release her from custody.

“Act II” concludes as Riley seeks out Thomas and … Gunshot!

[Note: The flow throughout the first 2/3 of Paramnesia is remarkably smooth, but when you get to this point and realize there is still another 36 minutes of musical and lyrical “revelation” some might be tempted to “tune-out.”]

Act III – The Final Message

Subsequently, the confrontation comes to full bore on “The Chosen” as Riley reveals Thomas’s true motives and deranged inspirations. Musically, while the band performs admirably, the focus shifts to the dialog between Riley and Thomas here and so there is little room for catchy melodic reprieve.

Similarly, as “World Without Sin” further exposes the plan in detail, the dialog-heavy libretto makes for tougher listening. The double bass drumming of Closson and the tight rhythm groove of the band is admirable despite the heavy narrative, especially in the closing section of the track.

The shred seamlessly continues with “The False Prophet,” but again, redundancy is becoming a fatiguing factor at this point in the play. Gunshots once again echo and then the band jams out into the denouement of Thomas’s final fate. With “Purpose in Question” it appears Thomas comes to some kind of recognition of his misguided sin, and then…

Surprisingly, Thomas survives his attempt on his own life as Riley wisely purports,

“Our fragile egos cause our fall/Try to convince us that we know all/We think we’ve got all the evidence/How can we be so arrogant?”

In big rock ending form, “The Final Message” features excellent group jam and some of Majennica’s most melodic and accessible vocal phrasings in the chorus sections and then flows smoothly into the epic instrumental finale “Set in Stone.” For those who enjoy hidden track surprises … well, you just need to hear it for yourself!


Paramnesia represents a tremendous outpouring of progressive, melodic metal during an era in time when few listeners have the patience to listen to a song longer than 4 minutes let alone a 2 CD album full of them! However, for a debut release, this one scores very high on the quality meter.

What to expect?

Complex and lengthy song compositions, beautiful and haunting keyboards, powerful and driving guitar riffs (think Dream Theater), tastefully placed guitar solos, technically fast and diverse drumming and great storytelling. Add to this Majennica Nealeigh’s high quality debut vocal performance and you can’t go wrong if you are a fan of conceptual progressive metal.

What not to expect?

If you are looking for short, easily accessible songs chock full of catchy choruses and memorable hooks then you won’t find that on Paramnesia. If you like music short on narrative, full of songs which you can listen to in random order, look elsewhere.

CD 1 (67:46)

1. Sleeping Torment (1:37)

2. Left for Dead (8:45)

3. Losing Myself (5:01)

4. Connections (9:22)

5. Time Runs Short (3:39)

6. Scene: Mistaken Accusation (2:22)

7. A Glimpse in the Mirror (7:02)

8. Fall (6:17)

9. Imperfect Conviction (10:41)

10. Unveiled (7:16)

11. A Missing Piece (8:06)

CD 2 (36:02)

The Final Message

1. Part 1: Chosen (6:56)

2. Part II: A World Without Sin (5:53)

3. Part III: The False Prophet (6:28)

4. Part IV: Purpose in Question (3:12)

5. Part V: The Final Message (5:54)

6. Part VI: Set in Stone (7:39)

Roxx Records

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