Review Summary: Ditching their Death/Doom sound, Paradise Lost welcomes a new approach, with their first foray into Gothic Pop/Rock territory.
Paradise Lost were considered the pioneers of the Death/Doom genre. Forming in 1988, in a little town called Halifax, a town famous only for its industrial mills and a carpet factory; it comes to no surprise that Paradise Lost were renowned for their melancholy and gloomy compositions. The town could be paralleled to their early sound; dark, murky and even depressing. The aging architecture from the 12th Century, which are prominent in Halifax, are reflected in their earlier works, such as the album Gothic - which many consider to have established the Gothic Metal genre. Basically, Paradise Lost were the living symbol, a symbol that represents the damning monotony that was prevalent in the town. But in 1997 after their seminal works, Icon and Draconian Times, they decided not to opt for the direction that helped them flourish. Instead of following their home-town’s backward tradition, they took away the aggressiveness found in their previous albums and embraced a more pop approach.
With the release of One Second, it had in effect ended the Gothic metal era in the band’s history at this point, and with this release, it saw the band renovate their sound completely. Gone are the Hetfield-esque vocals and the raw abrasive guitar work, and instead, Paradise Lost incorporates a heavily synthesised sound, reminiscent to that of the Depeche Mode. The guitar still plays a heavy role in the band’s music, but they aren’t the focal point anymore and they now provide more room for some superb keyboard melodies. The keyboard/synthesisers are the key new aspect to the band’s new sound, which is evidenced right from the beginning, with the opening title track. What fans may also notice is that Nick Holmes, previously known for his influential guttural vocals and then his James Hetfield impersonations, has now opted for a new cleaner approach. Songs like “Say Just Words” displays his new baritone vocal line and compliments the new sound superbly.
Despite all this change, Paradise Lost have managed to maintain their song-writing abilities to a very high standard, creating new memorable melodies whilst also preserving the gloom found in their previous releases. Nick’s transformation is a remarkable highlight to the album, backed up by solid instrumentation by Greg Mackintosh and co. The keyboards/synths are used appropriately and never become tedious to listen to, a trait that can be common in most synthesised gothic music. Offering highlights such as the slow, yet poignant “Disappear” to the aforementioned “Say Just Words” which houses a great chugging guitar riff whilst also reflecting Paradise Lost’s capability of creating memorable choruses – this is without question, a successful experiment and one that just brims with quality. Though, fans who are only accustomed with their previous works may be wary of picking this up – although there is no denying the lasting appeal of this record once they disregard their previous presumptions.