Review Summary: All of my life is changing, always some rearranging.
In the history of metal, there are only a handful of bands that have not only redefined themselves at the peak of their commercial success, but defined and redefined an entire era. After influencing countless doom/death acts with their early material, Paradise Lost created the gothic metal blueprint on Icon
and recorded their own version of Black Album
with Draconian Times
. However, being the inquiring minds that they are, the Halifax outfit’s members decided to eliminate entirely their doom elements and on One Second
they focused on a more Depeche Mode-oriented sound. Nevertheless, their 1997 release was received favorably by metal fans and press alike, albeit with a slight grunt, something that didn’t happen with Host
. The reason was that with their 7th LP, the Brits moved the needle a bit more towards synth-pop by getting rid of their gothic soundscapes and by using various guitar effects which resulted in an album that lacked metal guitars in their classic sense.
Of course, their move to a multinational record label (EMI) and the fact that they cooperated with producer Steve Lyon who had also worked with – guess who – Depeche Mode, didn’t help either. As a result, it didn’t take time before metal publications and eventually metalheads started accusing Paradise Lost of writing dance music and eventually, calling them sell-outs. However, this was far from true as Host
is easily one of Paradise Lost’s most miserable efforts (with some of Nick Holmes’ saddest lyrics) and, as expected, alienated their fans while not attracting new ones. Of course, Host
is not a metal album by any means, as it features electronic elements, keyboard sounds instead of traditional guitars, programmed drums and vocals which bring to mind Dave Gahan or even Neil Arthur (Blancmange). Their One Second
gothic ambiance a la The Sisters of Mercy, gave way to a more urban/industrial aesthetic, courtesy of Steve Lyon. There are some really nice melodies scattered throughout on tracks like “Ordinary Days”, “Nothing Sacred”, “Made the Same” and of course, “So Much is Lost”. The memorable vocal lines and Holmes’ prominent vocals which sometimes drive the songs, are other important elements of the LP as well. However, the album does sound a bit samey at times, the slower tracks do seem as they drag a bit too much and the album feels a bit longer than it actually is.
was a successful expansion of Paradise Lost’s sound which of course has its flaws. At the same time, it is more than just a simple album as it encapsulates one of the elements that made the ‘90s a magical era for music, which is none other than experimentation. In a time where bands were striving to progress and release diverse material, the then former doom/deathsters inspired numerous acts to expand, differentiate and create some of their most interesting material. As a metalhead, Host
is not even remotely one of my favorite Lost releases but as a fan of music, I will always support the existence of albums like this one.