Precisely 10 years ago the heavy metal world appeared to be Paradise Lost’s oyster. The Yorkshire band had built on the sorrowful death metal of their Lost Paradise, Gothic, Shades Of God and Icon albums to release Draconian Times – a bold collection of songs that sounded like Black-era Metallica played by a group who loved the Sisters Of Mercy. Which is precisely what it was of course…
And then things went a bit, well, weird. The next three albums – One Second, Host and Believe In Nothing – progressively experimented with electronics and pop elements, with the guitars gradually getting pushed further into the background.
The results? An alienated fanbase; a new album that gets released seven months late in the UK compared to the rest of Europe; and the bizarre recent sight of seeing Paradise Lost supporting Nightwish, when it was Paradise Lost who originally laid the gothic seed that other bands have been nicking and reaping in recent years.
Still, when it’s all gone so awry, the best riposte is to let the new music do the talking and this eponymous opus – which builds on the back-to-rock vibe laid down by 2002′s Symbol Of Life – may just be the most consistently high quality set of songs that Paradise Lost have ever given us.
In fact, there isn’t a weak track here, with Paradise Lost coming across as the sound of a band finally at ease with itself and its influences, melding its trademark misery with some of the guitar heaviness of old, but also utilising the newer emphasis on melody to synergistic effect.
The likes of Close Your Eyes, All You Leave Behind and Over The Madness are pleasingly crunching and mosh-worthy, though all with choruses to remember and minor melodics to get lost in.
Meanwhile, songs such as Redshift and Forever After are the sort of commercial, anthemic, heavy metal-tinged gothic rockers that have hit paydirt for Within Temptation and Evanescence. At the very least they leave you with some sympathy for guitarist Gregor Mackintosh’s recent assertion that “if Nick [Holmes, vocalist] was as photogenic as Amy Lee, we would probably be multi platinum by now.”
On Forever After, Holmes implores: “If only we could still believe the dream.” With this release choc-full of quality, rocking tunes, the dream is very much alive for Paradise Lost.