Paradise Lost
Icon 30


4.0
excellent

Review

by Simon K. STAFF
January 28th, 2024 | 10 replies


Release Date: 12/01/2023 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Remembrance

It’s no secret I adore the last decade of Paradise Lost material. Holmes’ earthy growls, the doom-y riffs, and Mackintosh’s superb guitar leads really captured my adulation for The Plague Within when it released back in 2015, and I’ve relished in their new releases with a gleaming enthusiasm ever since. However, being that said album was the record that got me into the band, when it came to exploring their vast catalogue, I always had a genuine struggle coming to terms with their fearless proclivity for exploring genres outside of metal, and more critically, Holmes’ voice, which sits in the same range as Metallica’s James Hetfield. As a result, my opinion on their albums is volatile, ranging from complete gushing right down to shoulder-shrugging ambivalence. The late-nineties-early-noughties era saw me more critical of the band’s music, but for the early-to-mid-nineties output it was Holmes’ clean vocal work that hindered me coming to the level of engagement I had for modern Paradise Lost records. Yet, last year saw a turning point when I decided to read Paradise Lost’s autobiography, No Celebration: The Official Story of Paradise Lost. In this, I decided to listen to each album concurrently with the era I was at in the book. In doing this, while some of my opinions remain largely unchanged, I did manage to garner some appreciation for their efforts. After I finished the book, I lingered around what is considered to be peak-era of the band – Gothic through to Draconian Times – and after familiarising myself with the songs, my repulsion towards Holmes’ distracting Hetfield echoes gradually faded away and I was left to immerse myself in the band’s amazing goth-drenched metal.

Where am I going with this? Well, unbeknown to me at the time, my decision to do what I did tied in very auspiciously with the thirtieth anniversary of Icon. For anyone unaware why Icon 30 exists, it boils down to ownership. At the time, the band’s record contract made it impossible for them to own the rights to their music, hence Icon being completely re-recorded with brand new artwork for its birthday. In this context it’s a bit different to your usual redux, as its genesis isn’t to rectify any displeasure with the original incarnation; and although the impetus for its existence ultimately stems from the band owning their music, ergo resulting in profit, it’s not for conventional monetary gain in the sense that the band or label are exploiting the fanbase by doing the bare minimum and charging full whack for it – the band put in the labour and completely re-recorded the thing after all. What is surprising – and further fortifies the notion they were content with how it originally sounded – is the level of fidelity being transferred over to Icon 30. When it was first announced I began to rub my hands at the prospect of Holmes applying his broadened skillset, maybe changing a few things here and there – not so much because changes were needed, more because I thought we were getting an anniversary release that showcased how much the band had grown as not only musicians, but as people. Though Icon 30 is a celebration, it’s not that kind of party. As such, purists will be pleased to know Icon 30 is boarder line identical to its original: compositionally the songs are totally unchanged, and bar some very subtle distinctions, the performances are near identical. The production is probably the only preference point, as the original sounds a little coarser and rawer, whereas Icon 30 sounds smoother and fuller. Things like the bass feel rounder and give the tracks a warmer feel to them, and the mix overall allows the guitars, solos, bass, and drums to pop out more distinctly.

So there’s a couple of ways to look at this. On one hand, the band openly admit this is about ownership of the music and not discontent for the music itself, making Icon 30 so loyal to its origins it’s almost farcical, from a listener’s perspective. On the other hand, the minor differences can make all the difference for some people – and don’t get me wrong, I’m a little conflicted with the presentation of Icon now, because while I love the rough, chilling atmosphere of the original, the new production does accentuate everything in a way that makes it technically superior to Icon. Still, regardless of the hair-splitting, it doesn’t affect the songs or the album itself, which is excellent. If you’ve never listened to Icon, there isn’t a better way to listen to it per se, but it might be an idea to listen to both just so you can find your preferred way of experiencing this classic record. For me, I think Icon 30 just in so nudges in front of Icon for being the definitive version, but the lead is so minute you’d need a microscope to see it. Either way, go listen to Icon.



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user ratings (48)
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
January 28th 2024


18342 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

hope willie still wasn't intending to do this one. felt like it deserved a review, so here we are.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
January 28th 2024


6203 Comments


Wise choice to re-record this album, it sounds way better than the original mix. Kudos for reviewing it! I have yet to buy their book, focused on different memoirs/biographies lately. Must read it!

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
January 28th 2024


18342 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I don’t really read biographies anymore, I focus my efforts on history and philosophy books, but I didn’t know f-all about the band so I bought the book. It’s awesome. Doesn’t read like your conventional biography, fully recommend.



As for the sound of the original, I quite like it. It represents the gothic vibe more, but the new recordings, from a technical standpoint, make way more sense. It’s a tough one to choose tbh lol

Dreamflight
January 28th 2024


2222 Comments


There are a lot of things that rub me the wrong way in this record, but what bugs me the most is that shrieking noise in the background during the chorus of Christendom. Is that a saw machine, a grinding wheel, a jackhammer? What is that and more important...why?

Pikazilla
January 28th 2024


30125 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

hopefully new album this year

ChaoticVortex
January 29th 2024


1604 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Solid of course, but still unnecessary. The OG has a distinct sound that's pretty much impossible to replicate. But whatever, hopefully new album this year like Pika said.

StormChaser
January 30th 2024


2179 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

"so you can find your preferred way of experiencing this classic record"

where's the 5 yo

Willie
Moderator
January 31st 2024


20216 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm glad this got a review. I was all set to review this in January, and then I figured out it was released in December, and I just kind of forgot about it. I like this version. It let me hear some things that I never caught on the original (but that were present when I went back and checked). Having said that, I still prefer the original in this case. I like Nick's vocals more, the drum sound, and the guitar sound.

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
January 31st 2024


18342 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

“where's the 5 yo”



You don’t have to give it a 5 to appreciate it being a classic with some significance behind it. For instance, I have early Metallica albums at a 3 and black album at a 4, but I acknowledge all of those albums are classic, due to their significance.

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
January 31st 2024


18342 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@willie



Yeah, Christendom in particular really draws out stuff I never knew was there lol



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