Review Summary: Paradise Lost finally make an actual return to past influences after promising it for the last two albums and only slightly delivering.
I like Paradise Lost
, but I have no problem stating that there was a time when they had lost their way. Don’t get me wrong, I like their trilogy of Depeche Mode
-inspired albums, but not at the expense of their original Doom-inspired material. It was that mindset that made me excited to hear that they were returning to their Metal roots on the album Symbol of Life
and then again on their subsequent self-titled album. Both of those releases turned out to be good solid albums, and they were a slight return to their Metal roots, but something always seemed to be missing, and that something has finally returned with their third album since bringing back the Metal.
On the previous two albums they did bring back a more organic drum sound, distorted riffs, and slightly aggressive vocals, but it still seemed to be missing something that made their earlier material as good as it was. This album has brought back those missing elements which were heavy riffs, Nick Holmes’ deep-goth vocals as well as his James Hetfield-inspired growl, morose guitar melodies, and an overall darker atmosphere. The first song doesn’t waste any time showing off all of these things and more. It has the Doom melodies of Icon
, the heavy riffing of Draconian Times
, the dark atmosphere of Shades of God
, and it wraps them all up in a modern approach that doesn’t make them sound dated or simply copies of their past.
The songs following the opener aren’t all as strong, but they do still retain the same basic elements, at least. Their first single, “The Enemy”, features female backing vocals, another excellent Doom-inspired lead guitar melody played over chunky riffs, and a chorus that will easily get stuck in your head. Even though “The Enemy” was chosen as their first single, the song that truly defines this album is, “Beneath Black Skies”. It starts with a piano melody and keyboard sounds, before getting into the main section of the song which, once again, features an excellent heavy guitar riff with another guitar melody played over it. It also includes all of Nick Holmes’ vocal styles to give this song a varied feel and another chorus that will stick in your head. Overall, this song and the album are finally the return to form that they’ve been promising.
With all of this talk about a return to their past, a paragraph has to be devoted to those that got into the band during their Depeche Mode era, because I’m sure they’d be wondering if Paradise Lost has, once again, completely changed and ignored their past outputs. Fortunately, for those people I can say that it isn’t totally the case. The increased use of keyboards and emphasis on memorable choruses is still apparent, but despite their catchiness they have definitely lost their Pop influence. Nick Holmes still also occasionally does his best Dave Gahan (Depeche Mode) impression on this album, but it is mixed with his older vocal styles. Basically, if the album you really love by these guys is Host
then you are warned to approach this with caution.
Most people know of Paradise Lost simply because they’re always mentioned when people speak of the front-runners of the original Doom scene, but despite their return to the past, this couldn’t be considered Doom by any means (although the song “Praise Lamented Shade” comes very close). The sound that modern day Paradise Lost present is one of a Metal band with a huge amount of influence coming from the Gothic Rock and Doom scenes, and they do it very well. For anyone who got turned off of this band when they released One Second
, this may finally be the album to bring you back into their fold. For those that have never heard Paradise Lost, this could also be a good place to start, as long as they keep in mind that somewhere around Icon
and Draconian Times
lies their actual musical peak.