Something has happened to Paradise Lost over the past couple of years, after being unable to release their last album, the self titled 'Paradise Lost,' in their own country, the band have managed to sign a deal with Century Media and have a highly anticipated album with a DVD on it's way. It seems the world is finally catching up with one of the greatest, influential and arguably one of the most consistent bands in all of metal.
Apart from 1999's experimental 'Host' album I don't think the Yorkshire kings of gloom have written a bad album. Obviously some are going to be more loved than others because the band's sound has radically changed in their almost twenty year career. Those of us who have stuck with the doomsters have enjoyed a string of excellent releases from the underrated 'Believe in Nothing' to the exceptional 'Symbol of Life' to the awesome 'Paradise Lost'. The latter was obsessed by this reviewer and it still gets regular airing to this day and I was waiting with a sense of excitement and dread for the follow up, dread because after lauding over an album so much the disc that comes next rarely lives up to the listeners own high expectations.
Thankfully this is one of those rare times because Paradise Lost have written a modern gothic metal classic that, although doesn't break any new ground, refines the band's sound and direction, in other words, it's more of the same only better (eg. Machine Head's 'The Blackening). 'In Requiem,' musically speaking, is the heaviest album Paradise Lost have produced since Icon. I would certainly say it was heavier than Draconian Times both in the production and the style of song writing, but it retains the melodic edge of the later albums with Nick Holmes adding more rasp to his vocal sound without returning to his early 90's growl. It's a potent mix that has had me hooked since the album dropped on my welcome mat.
The first five tracks on this album are simply stunning, 'Ash and Debris' makes 'The Last Time' sound like four puffs and a piano from the Jonathan Ross show, first single 'The Enemy' is an immediate and writhing piece of work, the title track is viciously epic and the album stand out track 'Praise Lamented Shade' is something else entirely. The bottom end on this song is bone shuddering and Greg Mackintosh's guitar licks prove he is perhaps the best writer of short infectious six string melodies in music today.
There is a sense of energy, edginess and overall urgency on 'In Requiem' without any of the songs sounding rushed or losing any of their feeling of oncoming doom. 'Prelude to Descent' sees Paradise Lost pick up the pace, something we've not heard since 'Once Solemn' however unlike that track the speed is cunningly woven into a sublime piece of slow tempo grinding. There has to be something wrong if 'Beneath Black Skies' isn't the next single, its infectious chorus is instantly likeable and it rocks like a bastard too. 'Seductive God' is sheer heavy metal class and the opener 'Never for the Damned' is bowel prolapsingly heavy.
If you're a classic Paradise Lost fan then don't expect a return to the 'Icon' or 'Shades of God' days because they are long past, 'In Requiem' is a modern Paradise Lost album that is heavier and darker than it's predecessors taking their roots as a basic blueprint rather than a direct influence, it's raw and less polished and all the better for it. Century Media have made a good signing in Paradise Lost and the band have returned the investment in musical gold and one can only hope this is a swift resurgence in the fortunes of Paradise Lost, no more should they have to play the Manchester Academy 3. In my Room Thirteen review for their last album I asked for a follow up album with louder guitars and I've got them, cheers guys, it's brilliant, see you on tour.