Another Finest Hour
Paradise Lost have a long history, which will be difficult to squeeze into an opening paragraph, but it's necessary to mention it to understand where this Halifax five piece are coming from. Formed in 1988 Paradise Lost played very doom ridden guttural growling metal on their debut 'Lost Paradise' and later on 'Gothic'. They developed this style into more accessible chunks of doom ridden guttural growling metal with albums 'Shades of God' and the superb 'Icon'. By their fifth album 'Draconian times' they were on the verge of being one of Britain's biggest metal bands and had the world at their feet. Consistently getting more commercial as time progressed Paradise Lost took a risk for next album 'One Second'. They ventured into goth/pop territory sounding like more Depeche Mode at times rather than their doom metal roots. Next album 'Host' was a step too far being devoid of all the things metal and fans left in their droves. Since then they've brought the guitars back and their last effort 'Symbol of Life' was a good album in it's own right, even though for old Paradise Lost fans such as myself it just wasn't the band I once knew and loved.
It was interesting to hear the new album was self-titled for it suggested they had gone back to their old style, but I couldn't disguise my disappointment when it was just an extension of their current lightweight style. Just to prove that it's worth giving most albums several listens, I found there was more to this album than my initial opinions.
'Don't Belong' isn't the best opener in the world but it's a competent song drawing in the listener rather than trying to beat them into submission. On the first few spins there were a few stand out tracks such as 'Grey', 'Forever After' and the stunning 'Sun Fading' but my 'classic' Paradise Lost barrier was still up and I wasn't hearing the true nature of this disc. Driving late over the Pennines the other evening it was then I heard it, the song that changed everything. 'Shine' is a solid number that plays out the modern Paradise Lost vein, but the chord sequence for the chorus shimmered behind the vocals in such understated glory. It was almost 'True Belief' from the 'Icon' days followed by a simple lead melody by guitarist Gregor Mackintosh. The genius of the older material was Greg's ability to write great guitar lines that complemented both the music and the vocals. A skill which seems to have deserted the chief song-writer however listening back to 'Paradise Lost' the album is littered with them but I never picked up on them first time round.
My barriers were down and I was hearing the album with fresh ears picking up on every guitar lick and chord progression. Unlike most of their latest albums, 'Paradise Lost' successfully maintains their modern gothic style whilst reminders to their glorious past provides an exquisite undercurrent throughout the CD. Songs such as 'Spirit' and 'All You Leave Behind' illustrates this point perfectly and 'Over the Madness' proves that Paradise Lost haven't lost their ability to write sombre music. The album is not without it's weaker moments, 'Laws of Cause' is nothing special, Nick Holmes' vocals are solid without reaching spectacular and there is room for the guitars to be louder in the mix but these are minor points which shouldn't detract anything from the disc.
With the like of HIM topping the charts it would be criminal for Paradise Lost to be consigned to the rest of the pack with this release. For the band who nurtured the goth/pop genre they don't get the respect they deserve, with too many people still pooh-poohing them for a change of direction they made twelve years ago. The fact that they couldn't get this album released in their own country until now, suggests that the music industry should look on their own doorstep before going all gooey over the likes of The Rasmus. It's time to get over it and catch up with this bunch of grumpy northerners and accept the band for what they are now rather than what they were. Hell, if I can do it I am sure everyone else can.