Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2020
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

A step in the right direction this is - 75%

colin040, March 4th, 2018

Looking back at the progression Paradise Lost has made over the years, its become rather debatable which record has really put them back on track. In Requiem saw the band bringing back a good dose of heaviness - but only partially, resulting into an album that to me was rather so-so. The band would have to take a few more steps in order to get compared to their former self again.

Which is exactly what they did this time. Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us does seem to rely on two important ingredients that made this band worthy in the first place. Nick Holmes brings back the harsh vocal attack you could find on the band's '93-'95 material and while he doesn’t sound as ‘’cool’’ as he did earlier on, I couldn’t have been happier with the result. At times his gruff timbre sounds surprisingly deep, making him sound like a wise man who spits out his anger about everything wrong with the world, even if the recent clean vocals are still present. If that wasn’t enough already, his companion Greg Mackintosh seemed to have realized how important his role as a lead guitarist is again. His leads sound both eerie, yet beautiful while the riffs he and Aaron Aedy unleash aren't just supported by just a huge guitar tone, but actually sound heavy at their core...however, a simple throwback to the band's earlier works this is not. The riffs refrain from the pure doom-y swagger of Shades of God, nor do they recall the simplistic palm-muted strikes of Icon or Draconian Times. In fact, the guitar duo offer a variety of slightly sophisticated riffing here than what what they had demonstrated in the early to mid 90's. ''Frailty'' introduces a foreign soundscape through storming riffing, while ''Living With Scars'' is of monolith quality and sees Greg and Aaron explore new territories through a series of inspired, yet emotionally provoking riffing played with grace and confidence.

The heavier, yet elaborated approach sees Paradise Lost aiming for several contrasts; the vocals often alternate between wise angry bellows and baritone-esque cleans, yet both aspects are used often which you couldn't say so much about the band's earlier works. ‘’As Horizons End’’ opens up with its thundering guitar chords, followed by gruff verses and its rhymed cleaner chorus. It's an excellent opening track and should remind you the band has definitely left their goth rock phase behind for good. ''The Rise of Denial'' has the most guitar chugged verse since ''Colossal rain'', but fortunately sees Greg and Aaron pull out a few more tricks in their advantage. The lead segment Greg appears on is nothing but nostalgic sorrow whereas the punchy riff follows right after offers an extra dose of good ol' heaviness before the vocal-oriented chorus makes it present clear again. Mood-wise, this new approach might take a little getting used to to those yearning for a serious copy of the Paradise Lost of old, but most of the time the results are more than satisfying to me. ‘’First Light’’ is an emotional roller-coaster and demonstrates Nick Holmes’ new-found vocal abilities at their best, especially during that deceiving chorus and even the title track's balladic tale doesn't shy away from a rougher chorus emerging between the tranquil verses with great effects.

Not every song is of great quality, though. Truth to be told, Paradise Lost have always had a thing for fillers here and there on about every album they have done and Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us is no exception. ''I Remain'' doesn't sound too sure of what its trying to accomplish - its dirty opening riff surely sounds promising, but once that chorus pops out of nowhere later on, the track takes a different direction - ambitious and all that, but ''Living With Scars'' has those twists and turns executed far better if I may say so. The last three numbers also take a dip quality-wise, which isn't exactly a great way to end album, either! ''Last Regret'' is one of the softer numbers on the album and while I dig the build-up that leads to that expressive solo halfway through, the track itself lacks some of the emotional weight the title track possesses. ''Universal Dream'' picks up the heaviness again, partially reminiscent of ''Pity the Sadness'', but it's not one of my favorites and ''In Truth'' feels rather lightweight; perhaps closer to material of the the band's previous two records at the time. Devoid of any catchy hook, captivating riff or interesting vocal line to safe the track from totally mediocrity it's the worst track on the album I'm afraid.

Still, Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us is a fine album of a band rediscovering their heavier pasts. It remains one of the band's more unique albums and while it does start to show its weakness near the end of its running time, it's for the most part a worthy listen. For a band that has been going on for a long time, that's good enough to me.

Measures up to Their Classic Material - 93%

lonerider, December 15th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2009, CD, Century Media Records

When Paradise Lost unleashed "Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us" (henceforth conveniently referred to as "Faith ...") upon mankind in 2009, it marked another significant step up from the already very good "In Requiem", itself a sort of comeback album that saw the five Yorkshiremen return to a significantly heavier sound reminiscent of the band's heyday in the early to mid 1990s. Well, "Faith ..." easily tops its predecessor in that category, sporting even heavier, more crushing riffs, a low, rumbling guitar tone not unlike the one employed on "Shades of God", and some almost-but-not-quite death growls by frontman Nick Holmes.

However, this was done in 2009, not 1992, so no one should expect a full-on return to the band's doom-death roots, complete with out-of-whack song structures, low-end production and all. Yes, "Faith ..." incorporates some doom-death elements but of course Paradise Lost are a much different band now and despite Holmes increasingly rediscovering the lower registers of his voice, he still uses plenty of gothic crooning as well. This is particularly evident in the choruses of most of the songs, which are generally catchier and more melodic than anything the band was known for back in the olden days. Oh, and of course the whole thing is produced according to today's standards, making for a crisp and more modern sound.

It doesn't take long for the staggering quality of this album to reveal itself, as the opening "As Horizons End" is probably the best song on here. Heck, it might even be the best song the lads have written ever since "Embers Fire", which it shares many similarities with. It is one of those slow, plodding dirges rife with grinding riffs and Greg Mackintosh's trademark minor-key guitar leads – in many ways a perfect song whose only fault is that despite its epic feel, it only lasts for five minutes while containing enough exquisite ingredients to easily carry a song of twice that length. Alas, with the exception of the material on "Shades of God", Paradise Lost have never been known to compose long, sprawling epics, which really is a pity sometimes ...

Speaking of pity, an interesting detail in the song "Universal Dream" is that the main riff clearly harks back to the one originally featured in the classic track "Pity the Sadness". In fact, the similarity is so striking we can safely assume it is actually more of a tongue-in-cheek nostalgic reference rather than solid evidence that the band has finally run out of fresh ideas. Still, it must be said that "Universal Dream", though it's not a weak song on an album devoid of any real missteps, is not one of the highlights on "Faith …". The same holds true for the solid yet somewhat inconspicuous "Living With Scars", whereas the following "Last Regret" is a great and amazingly sorrowful tune, slowly winding its way into your ears like a morbidly catchy funeral march. It starts out slow as molasses and is pretty much pure unadulterated doom metal, something the band should definitely do more of. Other songs of note include the much quicker "Frailty" with its nifty tremolo riffing, which is a bit of an oddity for Paradise Lost standards but works very well here.

To cut things short, no matter which of the first six songs you pick, they are all pretty much pure gold. Though the album gets a bit more up-and-down afterwards, it is still a very strong and consistent effort that beats out everything the band put out after the much-revered "Icon", and yes, that certainly includes the slightly overrated "Draconian Times". In fact, of all the post-"Icon" albums only "Tragic Idol" is of equally high quality and it's nigh impossible to decide which of the two is better. Whether you have followed Paradise Lost closely throughout their long and illustrious career or you are totally new to their music, you can't go wrong with either of the two, which actually speaks volumes about this band's continued relevance.

Choicest cuts: As Horizons End, First Light, Frailty, The Rise of Denial, Last Regret

Doom again - 91%

gasmask_colostomy, November 14th, 2014

This is chronologically the first Paradise Lost album since Icon that really made my blood flow faster. PL have not exactly been a hit-and-miss band over the years, constantly putting out challenging albums that refused to rehash old ideas, but the sense of excitement and danger that returned with the arrival of Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us was a kick in the nuts that no one expected.

The guitars had been gradually resurfacing since 2005's self-titled album, but that and the slightly stronger In Requiem still seemed formulaic and were lacking the unique spark that put PL on the map in the first place. There were simple, generic riffs that gave songs like 'Accept the Pain' and 'Ash & Debris' an initial impact over and above that of the songs on the preceding electro-rock albums, but nothing solid enough to keep the songs interesting beyond rousing choruses and brief solos. Faith/Death puts six-string creativity (in fact, it's notably seven string guitars on most of this album) back to the fore, building up atmosphere the old-fashioned way instead of depending on backing tracks, keyboards, and an underwhelming sense of popular gothic morbidity that has dated so, so quickly in the last 10 years. Those thick, breezeblock guitar chords push the heaviness of this album right up into the listener's face and, while the pace and other elements of PL's sound are largely unchanged, make this a return to doom metal for the first time since Icon.

But, a simple increase in heaviness does not a good album make. The point of PL has never been just to enjoy listening to Aaron Aedy's rhythm guitar plod out chord sequences or chug along under the verses, however heavy he sounds while he is doing it. The triumph of Faith/Death is thus partly a result of Aedy finally having some more exciting parts and a much stronger tone, which beefs up the slow parts and rattles some cages when the band decide to take their collective tongue out of the prozac. The billowing rush of 'Frailty' is exhilarating and the juddering heaviness of 'Living With Scars' sounds like a doom metal Gojira soundtracking the dance of Frankenstein's monster, though the general atmosphere is helped by that slightly grubby yet monolithic crunch of the doom backing that harks back to Gothic in its conjuring of medieval threats and fears. In this last respect, the album artwork is a real treat too.

The other part of the album's success is down to the lead players, as it has always been for PL. Admittedly, the drumming is a very strong part of the sound and is a perfect companion to the more aggressive and oppressive mood of these songs, but Gregor Mackintosh still manages to steal the show without ever actually showing off, overseeing whole songs with slow melodic touches, hopeful, climbing octaves, and meticulously crafted solos that don't use a single note too many. His lead tone is feather light compared to the power of the rhythm parts and makes extensive use of delay to really haunt the huge stony halls and cathedrals that the brutish riffs depict. Best of the lot for him is the exquisitely timed solo on 'Last Regret' and the looping counter riff on 'In Truth' that weaves a path round the other band members and pulls the whole song together.

Nick Holmes somehow managed to up his game here and commands every single moment where he appears. With the shift to a heavier PL, his style has grown more powerful and expressive. Perhaps the closest comparison would be to his vocals on Shades of God, though that album suffered from a weak production and had more of an even tone, which didn't give Holmes the chance to really lean into a chorus and let loose that convincing melodic bellow of which he is so capable. The quiet then loud tactic of 'First Light''s refrain is big on impact and on emotion, something that also marks the transition of contemplative to soaring on the title track. The surprisingly heartfelt "I've never seen the love and confidence / To believe the faith and never speak again" on 'I Remain' is also an indicator of the thought put into some of the lyrics - they are still abstract and open to interpretation, but seem relevant and wiser than before. The way that Holmes rhymes whole verses with each other (rather than just lines within them) is also intriguing, and perhaps unique to his lyrics.

Paradise Lost well and truly pulled themselves out of a slump with Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us. With a little more imagination and some thoughtful songwriting, this album soars above the previous decade of mediocrity and, while it doesn't retread the ground of the unassailable early '90s PL (which would be a mistake in any case), it makes the band relevant once more and suggests that they may finally have found a style they like.

Reveling in the Lost - 85%

Five_Nails, July 19th, 2011

Paradise Lost is a relatively new find of mine but the band couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. While perusing the fire and brimstone of the band’s namesake epic poem by John Milton, I was searching for a band that held fast to the gigantic sound expected in heavy metal, ensured a bluesy yet harmonic passion in its treble but still retained a heavy darkness in its bass sound, and overall kept a mid-pace while expounding upon my knowledge of metal with its own experience and wisdom. So I got pulled into Paradise Lost’s “Faith Divides Us-Death Unites Us” pretty much from listen one without needing to start from their first release and chronologically attempt to define this band’s ambition. It’s easy to understand this band’s song structure, just the common rock/metal format for most songs with an extra riffing progression and uncompromising soloing, but in execution Paradise Lost gives the accessible etiquette of gothic rock’s structure the gritty but precise and planned but improvisational instrumental style and raw emotion that it has needed lately to propel it into the style of metal and give it the symphonic edge that has been lacking from other bands.

The dragging treble and galloping drum pace of Paradise Lost offers a more up front display of heavier metal instrumentation as harmonic riffs join cymbal rhythms while leaving the snares to drag and keep the middle ground alongside a constant of double bass kicking. This pace is led by riffs that have the grooving lengthiness of most modern underground metal and mixes well with the accessible low end to create a sound just rough enough on the ears to pummel its orchestral ambience and light and memorable enough to be caught and held to by most listeners. Paradise Lost isn’t holding back though, Peter Damin’s drumming incorporates plenty of flowing rhythms that, in exerting pressure on the rhythmic constant of the doom style crawling pace of “As Horizons End”, eases through the opening and kicks the solo section hard with flourishes of fills. Though nowhere near as full as a death metal song or even some NWOBHM drumming at times, Damin’s fills consistently hit upon the most emphatic high end tones and thunder through the end of the track well while still dragging the slow pace of the track along. Inverting the above, “The Rise of Denial” is a faster more raucous display of aggressive drumming to some already defiant riffs that give Paradise Lost the edge it needs to really kick some metal ass while staying true to the band’s ambition.

Guitar harmonies and leads are clear and verbose in this album. Present in every track, leads are expressed to expose a lighter beauty of the rhythm guitar’s down tuned half of each harmony but ensure the individuality and obscurity of the band’s sound with their delicately slow pacing joining their fast moving rhythmic aesthetic. Choruses are also catchy and clear, nearly always separated by a new riffing progression or breakdown but when solos come up like in “I Remain” they give that extra push necessary to propel the final chorus forward. In all, Paradise Lost has their structure perfectly down and in playing with it for so long are still able to go by formula but refreshingly hit upon a strong range of emotive sounds. “First Light”, a defiant yet distressing track, beautifully juxtaposes their heavy guitar sound with harmonic highs and in its chorus employs some well-distorted piano to set off its first repetition. The band separates the two final choruses with a great entering and disappearing solo section that, in bluesy fashion links up with the vocals of the chorus then goes and then does its own thing. While “Frailty” is in the same vein as “First Light”, the title track is another unique and powerful track. Backed by violins, the guitars are perfectly tuned to sound symphonic and nearly disappear under the exploding orchestra when the chorus comes up. Still, Paradise Lost with all their symphonic and metallic sound wear the rock formula with ease and play into it without compromise. Beginning “Living With Scars” with a tremolo accompaniment to a heavy low riff, the track has a great movement to it that brings solos through the chorus and changes tempo smoothly along the way. The band also breaks down into another solo, weighed down by cymbals and rhythm riffing to make this one of the most mobile and unique tracks on this album. The guitars on this album are amazing, bringing anthemic sounds at times, juxtaposing them with darker and heavier sounds, and eventually creating some very memorable solos through the old verse chorus verse chorus style.

Keeping true to the symphonic edge of Paradise Lost’s style, “Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us” and “Last Regret” are also remixed on this album with solely orchestral instruments. While these two tracks aren’t even the most standout of the album, they’re pulled off with great emphasis on instrumental movement within what was each guitar riff and at times sound even better than the studio versions. In “Last Regret” is also a powerful low end that gives way to a pretty interesting breakdown and the guitar’s whining solo later on is reproduced by clarinets in both a beautiful and somewhat wonky sound.

Paradise Lost’s “Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us” is definitely not an album to miss if you’re looking to bridge the gap between rock and metal or if you’re looking for a strong gothic sound. While the band is entrenched in the general rock/metal song format, their unique style flourishes, the vocals are a gritty but fluid accompaniment to the instruments, the guitars are heavy and beautiful and the drumming pounds it all into place. The symphonic tendencies of the band dignify their prim and proper style well but that doesn’t keep them from letting their individuality through in the form of erupting solos and improvisation with each instrument. Definitely check this band out if you haven’t, but don’t expect them to redefine metal for you. Instead look for the blues in their sound for there is plenty of it. Tracks like “Cardinal Zero” and “Universal Dream” bring their bluesy sound perfectly to the fore but ensure a sinister intent under the bluesy and beautiful mix. Paradise Lost puts plenty of work into their music and it’s paid off on “Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us” as they’ve evolved into a completely different band from when they started out.

Monumental piece of art - 95%

Darkes7_, February 20th, 2010

Few metal bands have earned the title of progressive (as in progression, not genre) as much as Paradise Lost. After a fairly long period of experimentation, plenty of it outside metal, 2007's In Requiem was considered the “return of Paradise Lost”, whatever that meant, leaving the question: will its successor follow its footsteps? As much as I had liked In Requiem, I can say that the new album didn't follow its footsteps, it just took an insane sprint forward and left it miles behind – in every way possible. The new creation of Paradise Lost contains all the best – and heaviest – things In Requiem had, taking them to a whole new level, and adding plenty of ideas that either hadn't appeared before in their discography, or had appeared very long ago. It's not a “return to roots”, it's... something else.

What's instantly striking about it is the monumental feeling of the music here. Never For The Damned on In Requiem was also a sort of epic opening, but this is something different. Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us as a whole really feels like if it was something from a few centuries ago – in this case, something entirely positive. Almost everything here is huge, massive and monumental (I feel I'm overusing the word a bit... but it describes plenty of things here perfectly), quite the opposite of the more straightforward “experimental” era; it's not clean and polished either, with a bit of “dust”, if you know what I mean. The epic feeling is also achieved by something else – this might be the heaviest album in the band's discography, even if not as dark and raw as the older albums, but it doesn't abandon the way of the predecessor in combining it with beautiful, melodic guitars. In fact, this idea is greatly expanded here, with almost every song containing at least one powerful, impressive solo (First Light and The Rise of Denial have probably no competition here). Guitars are the greatest of many strengths here, with brilliant work of both guitarists.

The best thing, however, is that this isn't just a “two-man album” or something along these lines; quite the opposite, I haven't heard an album with such a great performance of the whole band in quite a while. If anyone had any complaints about the vocals on In Requiem (“forced” seems to have been the most common one), I'm pretty certain there won't be any here. There's plenty of low, harsh (not really growling, but not far) vocals, but the normal clean singing isn't left out, which is a great thing since Nick Holmes really shines in either style here. His best moment here could be I Remain, with vocals filled with strength and emotion – particularly the chorus; another one could be the title track, with very nice, melancholic singing in the verses, followed by the monumental, powerful chorus. Finally, one thing I need to point out that this is the best performance of a session drummer I've had the chance to hear on an album – his name is Peter Damin, and although he only played on this album, it's a lot more than I would expect. Despite all the amazing guitars and vocals I've often found myself impressed my the drums, with plenty “out of the box” patterns, his playing adds plenty of finesse to the music. And in the end, there's one more difference from In Requiem – if you listened carefully, there was plenty of keyboards there, adding subtlety to the music. Here there's almost none left, but it doesn't feel like they're missing in any way.

Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us is also rather unique in one thing – usually, I'm pretty certain of one, two, maybe three favourite songs on an album after a short time. In this case, I'm past around twenty-five listens of the album and I found myself changing the choice around five times. Out of eleven (we'll come back to that later) songs there are seven that have been my potential favourites, the other four still not lowering the level of the whole album at all – probably their time just hasn't come yet... I believe the main thing responsible for this, other than the amazing monumental atmosphere, is the songwriting. Like usual, there are no surprises in terms of length – usual four-five minutes – yet each and every song in here has a sort of personality and some things that make it stand out and change the standard (and slightly boring) “verse-chorus” structure. Two are particularly unusual – the first one is Living With Scars, with a slightly technical and chaotic feeling to it; the other is In Truth, switching between the slow main riff and faster parts, and a particularly depressing atmosphere (“I am a dead man, I'm a mistake” - any questions?). Some songs are heavier and more straightforward, the heaviest of them all is probably I Remain. Also The Rise of Denial is one of the heavier ones, with the aforementioned impressive solo followed by the heaviest riff on the entire album, while Universal Dream is reminiscent of the band's earlier discography, particularly the classic Pity The Sadness. Frailty is also very interesting, with a very calm, melancholic intro, followed by the fastest riff on the album, combined with much heavier moments. As Horizons End, First Light and Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us are a different thing entirely, with the most monumental feeling on the album and slower tempo. Finally, there's Last Regret - probably the most doom-influenced song on the album, with a very slow tempo and particularly depressing feeling. And there's the “eleventh track” - which is the bonus track, Cardinal Zero. Since there was no mention of it being a bonus, I had had no idea it's a bonus track, and it felt as the natural closing track to me – quite straightforward and heavy, but slowing down near the end. Bonus tracks tend to be weaker than the actual album and often don't work as the ending – this is the exception, and the best bonus I've ever come across. Another strength of the album is that normally it takes several listens for me to remember something from each song – here one was enough. Despite all the heaviness and atmosphere, the songs manage to be really catchy (often the chorus is responsible for that), without the need to slowly “dig” into the album for days; it just grabs you straight away, and the 50 minutes pass very quickly.

One more thing that adds a lot to the album is the production. I've mentioned that there's “dust” - that's exactly how it feels. It sounds just how I would want from this kind of music, making the riffs really heavy and even a bit raw-sounding, even though everything can be heard perfectly. The very clean sound from the time of Symbol of Life is gone – the sound here is a bit “dirtier”, not as polished – and absolutely perfect for this album. I had expected a very good album from Paradise Lost after In Requiem and had little doubts I won't be disappointed; however, what I got exceeded all my expectations. This is my favourite metal release in 2009, and one of the best metal albums I've ever heard – what's particularly impressive is that this is the band's twelfth album, twenty-one years into their career, and they still manage to surprise and create something new – something few bands manage to achieve. But Paradise Lost has, and the result is an amazing, captivating metal album and a beautiful piece of art at the same time.

I am a dead man, I am a mistake - 85%

autothrall, November 25th, 2009

Many have been reluctant to follow Paradise Lost through the various 'phases' of transformation in their music, but the band has produced a long line of excellent recordings, through their early bone-crushing period (Lost Paradise, Gothic) to the transitive melodic doom of Icon and Draconian Times, and finally to the more accessible gothic radio rock of Symbol of Life. Having reached the end of such a gradual metamorphosis, Paradise Lost have decided with their past few albums to combine all of these stages into one concrete statement of intent, truthful to the band's origins but not forsaken to their flair for melody.

Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us is the band's 12th full-length album, and an alternating monster of lumbering grooves and solemn streams of melodic sadness. Although few of the tracks here have the lasting power of dozens of past compositions, this is a solid and enjoyable listen through its entirety. Some of the more powerful moments include the flowing "First Light", the choppy "Living With Scars" (which has some of the band's most complex riffing ever...not saying much I suppose), and the somber "In Truth". That said, there really isn't a track here I couldn't sit through more than once.

I'm not saying this is the band's next Icon, but if you can picture that album with a groovier bottom end, more dynamic metal riffing and brief spurts of the more radio friendly fare on Symbol of Life or Believe in Nothing, then you have arrived. If you've followed the band and not been offended by their evolutions (forward and reverse), this has it all.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

All I Know Is That Paradise Lost Unites Us! - 90%

pandaemon, November 22nd, 2009

Anti-religious divine album from a lost paradise!!! Yeah, the pioneers from Yorkshire brought as a gem, this surely being the best album of 2009 even if the year isn't over yet! If you were expecting a weak pop-goth album, you must work on your intuition my friend. This album is so "neighborly" that it can appeal someone with "Hallowed Land" as his favorite Paradise Lost song, but also another person who likes "Forever After" the most.

Thematically and musically the album was created with the following idea in mind: "There is so much division in the world caused by obstructing religious belief. We are all made of the same flesh and bone. What makes one religion better than the other, and would any true god allow his creation to destroy itself?" (Nick Holmes)

The cover art shows us Death "dragging away" a monk. The pessimistic lyrics are in relation with the futility of mankind, the religious manipulation and are being exposed by someone with deep emotional wounds.

"Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us" is far from being monotone. To be more explicit, you can't get bored! No weak tunes! The album is based on "duels" of the guitars that create a dark melodious though rough sound, best labeled gothic-heavy metal. Most of them are dynamic or mid-paced but there are also the modern mellow Paradise Lost moments when the keyboard comes into action and more melody is created (quite a few times but all memorable and in contrast to the harder parts of the album). Some of the riffs bring the doom metal feeling to our ears. There are a couple of guitar solos too! The vocals are very versatile because from almost tender-clean they can become loud and rough (close to the "Shades of God" growls). And don't worry, Nick did the same good job! The obscure session drummer named Peter Damin also had a great performance. You can sense that he feels the music very well and expresses his sentiments into all of the energy put into the faster tempo moments, so there are no reasons to regret the fact that Adrian Erlandsson wasn't in the line up. The most important thing to know about this album is that whatever these musicians are doing, the dark atmosphere is still maintained.

The unconventional is also a factor. The guitar-crushing opener, "As Horizons End", would be harsh from start till finish if it wasn’t for a blues-based guitar solo. There is even a short thrash metal riff on "I Remain". "Frailty" starts with some haunting synth but evolves into an incredibly intense song. The song with the same name as the album and "Last Regret" are the mellower songs on the album. They contain mostly the slower-keyboard moments i talked about (much more than the other tracks which usually have one or two at most). The first one has the catchiest chorus present and the latter is very powerful emotionally and for this reason it reminds me of "Over the Madness", the difference being that the new one has maybe the best Paradise Lost guitar solo ever. "Universal Dream" also has a "cool" guitar solo that you would expect to come more from Zakk Wylde - nice though.

"Refrain from the way we were
Slain the invincible"

Nothing more to say: The past of Paradise Lost is brilliant, the future seems bright!

Living with scars indeed... - 70%

grimdoom, October 21st, 2009

One thing you can always count on Paradise Lost to do is the unexpected. This album in particular was a wild card because for all intents and purposes they could've reverted to something weaker akin to 'One Second - Believe in Nothing', but they didn't. For the first time in a long time Paradise Lost REALLY delivered something special. Two years after the bands "real" return to form they released something that while not their heaviest album is certainly the closest thing to 'Lost Paradise' that they've ever done. This album while still Doom, is almost more in the Dark Metal vein than anything else in their long catalog. The production has been stepped up, the intensity has been stepped up but its still lacking something.

The production is as good if not slightly better than their prior album. The guitars are very heavy, happily chugging their way through the bulk of the material. The leads follow the same blueprint of 'In Requiem'. There are plenty of melodic leads and a few solos too. The band used 7 sting guitars tuned to 'A' on this recording. This is lowest the band has ever tuned. The riffs are very heavy and dark. They are very old school but with a modern twist, and while not as simplistic as their older works they are very sinister in their delivery. The only bad thing about their presentation is the distortion is very thin and painfully annoying as a result. Had the distortion been as fluid as it has been on the bands past three albums this album would be better.

The bass is once again par for the course. Frankly, at this point in the game you'd think that Stephen would've spiced his style up but alas he hasn't. He sounds good regardless and his bass certainly helps the heaviness of each song come out. The drums are good but its obvious that their not Jeff's. Session member Peter certainly does get the job done admirably but they're lacking somewhere. There are no electronic sounds in the songs, thankfully their all organic. The atmosphere is very dreary but almost artificially, as if they were trying very hard to be "evil".

Nick's vocals are probably as good as they're ever going to get (post 'Shades of God' anyway). His clean vocals are higher when used and sound great. For the more aggressive songs, his vocals are close to what was heard on 'Draconian Times' but perhaps slightly more deathly but not full on death. They are perhaps best described as as a cross between 'Icon' and 'Draconian Times' but with a more bitter edge. The lyrics are also very much in the vein of the first five albums, dark and damning; certainly one of the higher points of the album at large.

This is very much a return to form without repeating or copying themselves. Sadly, this album is only half good, whereas the other half is bland and boring. Another down side would be the modern touches are just out of place. The poly rhythmic sections on "Living with scars" while good, after a few listens, sound somewhat forced and out of place considering the band have never tried to sound like Meshuggah. Interestingly enough Greg drastically changed his style of playing sometime around or after 'Symbol of Life'. Normally guitarist don't change their playing style or signature sound, but he did and its arguably just as good and captivating as his prior style. The new style doesn't sound like old Paradise Lost but its still Paradise Lost none the less. It's very rare when something like happens and as such an example for comparison cannot be given.

This is a very good Doomdeath (for lack of another term) album and its very original; but sadly, as stated above, the songs just aren't all there. The band is trying to hard to be modern when they don't need to. This is still recommended to all fans of the band however.