Review Summary: A solid doom album.
Paradise Lost is one of doom’s early greats, rising to popularity in the early 90s with the likes of My Dying Bride, Katatonia and Anathema. These 4 bands were some of the first to combine doom and death, and most doom bands of today owe them some gratitude for influencing everything they write. Shades of God
is Paradise Lost’s third album, and closes the band’s early era, while marking the beginning of progression from straight death/doom to the more synthetic, electronic and experimental styles they would later employ. Shades of God
builds upon the foundation the previous album Gothic
had lain out, and offers not only a flashback to where the death influenced doom of today comes from, but also an enjoyable and accessible romp in gloomy, melodic, death/doom.
Throughout the album, the band maintains a constant gloom, created through a combination of dark melodies and haunting vocals. The melody on this album is great; each song makes sure to incorporate melodic riffs, lead breaks and Holmes’ vocals to ensure that we can easily separate the doom from the death. Not only this, the album instrumentally is quite well made. There is an abundance of great riffs and solos; both Mackintosh and Aedy show us that their guitar playing is not below par. Another point I’ll mention is the bass. Fortunately for us, the bass is very audible and makes up very important sections in the songs, take for example ‘Pity the Sadness’. It makes the experience a whole more enjoyable, being able to pick out each members contribution to the song and album. The one bone I had to pick with the instrumentals was the drumming; most of the beats and fills on the album were incredibly simplistic. I do acknowledge that this is doom, but this album is death metal enough to have benefited from a little inspired drumming. Other than this, Shades of God
is musically very solid.
Along with the music, Paradise Lost’s vocals have also evolved throughout their career. They first began with the common growling of the time, which was evident on their first three albums (Shades of God
being the third), before gradually becoming cleaner in tone. One thing to note, however, is that the growling on this album isn’t what one would expect; it’s not similar to the usual death metal growls a la Mikael Akerfeldt. Rather, they seem almost natural and have a very gravelly feel to them. Holmes still goes low in some songs, but generally they are kept under control and can actually be quite melodic, take for example (again) ‘Pity the Sadness’. The most similar vocalist I could think of was A.A. Nemtheanga of Primordial, but then again their voices are still quite different.
In terms of song-writing, Shades of God
is extremely solid. There isn’t really any song that I disliked, but amongst all the greats there were a couple of average songs. Songs like ‘Mortals Watch the Day’ or ‘Pity the Sadness’ however, epitomize the sound that Paradise Lost has on this album. This sound is in part due to the production, which is slick and very refined, unlike Gothic
where there was a very raw feel to the music and the vocals. The production allows Paradise Lost to shift between the heavier and slower moments with relative ease, and absolutely no breaks in the flow of the music. This works well in the albums favor, not only because it complements the gloomy atmosphere, but also because it makes it more accessible.
Overall, this is a very enjoyable album, and despite being a little dated really gives us an insight into where a lot of today’s doom came from.
Pity the Sadness
Mortals Watch the Day
Your Hand in Mine