Article By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway
The orchestrally enhanced doom band Paramaecium originally got its start in Melbourne, Australia in the early 1990s. In less than a year from their formation, the trio of bassist and vocalist Andrew Tompkins, guitarist Colin ‘Mosh’ Maynard, and drummer Steve Palmer issued their first recordings.
The independently issued four-song ‘Silent Carnage‘ demo was a raw emission of death metal, just as it was at that time. Poorly produced heavy metal music and harsh vocals influenced by much was what was rising from Sweden and the USA’s Florida.
Tompkins, the band’s founder, overhauled the lineup with two new members for the next recording. In came guitarist Jason De Ron and drummer Jayson Sherlock. By this time, Paramaecium was being influenced by bands like Cathedral, My Dying Bride, and Anathema.
That influence was evident on the amazing official full-length début that resulted, another independent release, ‘Exhumed Of The Earth’. The band incorporated flute and violin sounds, as well as soprano vocals, alongside the usual guttural ones. There were also quite profound, openly Christian-based lyrics and themes present all throughout the record.
That latter part would become an ever-present theme in the music of Paramaecium. The band added a second guitarist, Chris Burton in 1995, and released their second album, ‘Within the Ancient Forest’. The musical release was accompanied by a fantasy novel of the same name, written by Andrew Tompkins. The album itself was more diverse and technical and involved female vocalists, harpsichord, piano, flute, and cello.
Drummer Jayson Sherlock left the band in 1996. A year later in 1997, we saw the official release of the ‘Silent Carnage’ demo as the ‘Repentance’ EP. It contained the original four songs re-recorded, plus two of the tracks in their original demo quality format.
By the time Paramaecium – once again independently – issued their next studio outing, 1999’s ‘A Time To Mourn’, everyone had left the band, save Tompkins.
To record that album and carry out subsequent touring, Andrew enlisted “session” musicians if you will – guitarist Ian Arkley (Seventh Angel, Ashen Mortality, My Silent Wake) and drummer Mark Orr. After all of those obligations were filled, Paramaecium would go on hiatus for the next five years
Paramaecium resurfaced in 2004, and alongside Tompkins once again were De Ron and Orr. The trio would record and release their single label-backed album, ‘Echoes From The Ground’, via Veridon. The following year, Tompkins and De Ron began working on a new album, eventually being joined by earlier drummer Jayson Sherlock.
They also played a series of concerts in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia, as well as NordicFest in Oslo, Norway. However, the NordicFest appearance in November 2006 marked the official end of Paramaecium, but it was also the official launch of the band under a new name, InExordium.
As InExordium, the band transformed into a more thrash and groove-infused Death Metal style and released one singular self-titled album in 2008. They, too, would eventually break up, but with Jayson Sherlock moving forward to form Revulsed with InExordium guitarist Sheldon D’Costa.
For me, Paramaecium was always one of the best Doom / Death Metal bands within the underground, Christian or otherwise. Their use of progressive metal, orchestration, dual-gender vocals, and more, made them a potent entity indeed. And yes, you could identify them as a “Christian Metal” band, I suppose, as most of Paramaecium‘s albums have conceptual themes that generally revolved around Christianity and Christian life.
‘Exhumed Of The Earth’ was based about the life of Jesus Christ and ‘Within The Ancient Forest’ was based on how Andrew Tompkins became a Christian. ‘A Time To Mourn’ was about one living life as a Christian, addressing the sorts of issues one might face as a modern Christian. ‘Echoes From The Ground’ is about a young man’s journey through the Holy Land to find a justification for his faith.