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An iconic band's first big statement. - 95%

finbar, January 14th, 2018
Written based on this version: 1991, CD, Peaceville Records

If I had to describe Paradise Lost with one word, that word would be "Unique". It's quite rare to see a band go through so many different phases, while still maintaining a very recognizable core-sound and a strong sense of identity. There are two factors I would attribute to PL's distinctive character - Gregor Mackintosh's keen ear for songwriting and arranging, and the stable lineup (apart from a few changes behind the drumkit) that dates back to the band's inception. There is a special type of chemistry between musicians who picked up their respective instruments together and grew musically through writing, recording and touring.

Gothic is a very ambitious album that marks PL's transition from an interesting, yet not fully developed doom/death metal act to full-fledged gothic metal pioneers. It stays true to the band's brutal beginnings, while increasing the presence of gothic elements and displaying stronger songwriting and a more proficient approach to song-arrangement. The album feels a lot more diverse than the debut thanks to the inclusion of more complexly structured tracks such as Dead Emotion, Rapture and The Painless. These songs flow incredibly well from section to section and feature many tempo changes and a refreshing dynamic diversity (Dead Emotion in particular has a middle section that is sure to send chills down your spine). The title track wastes little time in establishing the album's distinct tone and creates an atmosphere that is like no other, seamlessly blending menacing doomy death metal with gentle female vocals and orchestral flourishes. Other highlights include the more straightforward Shattered and Eternal, two incredibly effective crowd pleasers. The are a few weaker tracks, but no real throwaways and the album flows very well from beginning to end.

The fact that the band members were still developing musically while recording this album only adds to it's allure. The spirited, yet not perfect performances have a youthful charm to them that is undeniable. Nick Holme's death grunts and growls are absolutely monstrous and while his clean vocals can be a bit goofy, they fit well within the context of the album. On his end, Gregor Mackintosh unleashes his trademark reverb-drenched wailing leads and cements his position as one of metal's more distinct songwriters/musicians.

From a production standpoint, Gothic is still on the raw side of things. The rhythm guitars and drums have a muffled and slightly deflated tone that lessens the power of the heavier sections, but works well when combined with the female vocals and orchestral parts. Much like the musicianship, the raw nature of the album's sound creates a very particular atmosphere that could never be duplicated. It captures a significant step in PL's evolution perfectly.

There is no wonder that Gothic is widely regarded as a pioneering masterpiece. It's an album that combined different musical styles in an organic and elegant manner and established PL's status as an innovative force to be reckoned with. To this day you can hear this album's DNA on almost every release that comes with the tag "gothic metal" and it can still give every one of those releases a run for it's money. An absolutely essential listen!

Album title + cover artwork = ? - 83%

colin040, October 27th, 2017

Long before the term gothic got associated with at one point extreme metal bands having sold out, Paradise Lost somehow felt the need to name their second album like this. I can only imagine the kind confusion this could have caused back then. Surely it doesn’t sound as promising as Lost Paradise now, does it? Regardless of the band's motives this album is of such high quality plenty of bands would take inspiration from it.

While bands such as Anathema and My Dying Bride were delivering monolith lengthy doom/death metal tunes here and there, Paradise Lost always delivered short songs that weren’t exactly hard to grasp. Even here, I’d argue that (production aside) the band were one of the best examples of how to play accessible doom/death metal. That’s not to say that Gothic is a lightweight album though. While not as raw and sinister as their debut, it carries on an eerie sense of dread that would inspire tons of bands to come. Arguably the most important member of the band, Greg really found his trademark style here and I don’t think he ever had a finer moment as there’s such an expressive and personal quality in his playing that you just wouldn’t get from the band’s later works. Sure, Icon and Draconian Times both were driven by quality leads, but here every lead screams out emotion in its rawest form.

On vocals we have Holmes and Marisson who contrast each other quite…a lot. Holmes sounds rough, full of anguish and bitter while Marisson sounds angelic and hints the last amount of hope that’s soon to be abandoned. While not exactly my favorite thing in metal, this is probably one of the better examples of the ‘’beauty and the beast’’ duo plenty of bands started to experiment with during the 90’s. From a musical point the dreamy title track shows how much Paradise Lost had progressed so far, sounding majestic and elegant, giving it a far less threating vibe than anything you heard on Lost Paradise. ‘’Dead Emotion’’ on the other hand is a bit more riff driven and relies on faster frequencies giving it a slight more aggressive feeling to it, if far more calculated than anything on the band’s debut. You could also tell the band were really expanding their musical boundaries here. The spoken delivery of ‘’Shattered’’ sounds like a gothic rock vocalist imitation while ‘’Dead Emotion’’ sounds more like the band openly embraced their love for Celtic Frost with its stomping riffs about to crush heaven’s gates while the break before the three minute mark recalls Dead Can Dance - sounding medieval and spooky. What I find amusing is how the title track a little bit deceiving; it’s gloomy, sure, but rather relaxing than emotionally exhausting while pretty much every tune that follows up sounds a lot more pessimistic. The leadwork of ‘’Shattered’’ conjures a sense of panic, backed up by the desperate ‘’chorus’’ shouts while ‘’Silent’’ features more prominent intimidating barks mixed with Greg’s mystic leads.

I should say that the production is a bit hit-or-miss to me as nothing on here sounds as ‘’big’’ as on following up albums. On one hand I love the frail, ancient sounding lead tone, giving each note the right amount of character; The 2013 version of the title is by far less effective than the original, even if it sounds technically better. On the other hand, riffs themselves tend to get drowned in the mix at times which is somewhat annoying - take ‘’Eternal’’ for instance, which once the keyboards appear make the guitars sound almost vanished.

Again Gothic does not sound like a promising album title, nor does its cover artwork make much sense (although more than that Nazi robot which appears the cover artwork on Lost Paradise) but that don’t let that fool you, really. There’s a good reason plenty of bands were inspired by this record. Just hear it.

The perfect concept album - 90%

gasmask_colostomy, December 3rd, 2014

The word "gothic" has a long history. It originally stems from the Goths of Germany (it wasn't Germany then, but you get the picture), who were often thought of as more barbaric and savage than the other European civilisations at the time. The next time Gothic crops up is as a description of architecture in the Renaissance. It doesn't actually refer to Renaissance architecture, but to the earlier, 12th and 13th century German style that was dismissed as crude and barbaric, despite its structural detail. The term became a byword to denounce any medieval trait, on the grounds that the era was benighted by superstition and ignorance. There's Gothic art, which revolves around the same basic tropes as the architecture. There's also Gothic literature, which emerged alongside a resurgence in the building style in the late 18th century, and has a strong relationship with the medieval architectural form and older, darker times. Stories are often gruesome, harrowing, and sinister: they are set in old castles or monasteries and make use of old systems, such as the feudal system (lords and peasants) and outdated religious beliefs (burning witches, say), tending to explore the darker side of man and his ability for evil, pain, and anguish.

Then there was Paradise Lost. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that 'Gothic' is a concept album and a mighty fine one at that. The problem is that I'm not sure how much of its unity to credit the band with. There is a very clear effort to engage with the meanings of Gothic I've highlighted above: the lyrical themes are based around religion, suffering, and the burial of time - one might even say that lines like "Stare at the dark foreboding walls" from 'Shattered' are a direct reference to Gothic buildings. The music is probably also a contribution to the theme. The words death and doom (it's doom death that PL are playing) have everything to do with the gothic and the style, to me, has always sounded like it carries with it a strong medieval flavour. My Dying Bride's debut and early EPs are steeped in the same kind of aged quality that gives a particular musty, rotting pungence to the music.

But the production, I'm not sure about. Would you deliberately make your production sound imperfect (I know I'm ignoring a whole slew of wannabe necro black metal bands here) just to make your music fit a given theme? The thing is, if I'm going to give words to describe what PL sound like on this album, it would have to be crude and barbaric, which is exactly what the concept requires. It would be really weird to assume that the band knew they were going to have another ropey production (the one on 'Lost Paradise' is legendarily shit) and then planned a whole album to fit around that quality. However, that's almost what it's like. No one wants a death doom album to sound squeaky clean, but the dirt on 'Gothic' - the craggy roughness of all the edges, the disappearing drums, the imperfection of the whole thing - is perfect for what they are attempting.

The instruments themselves are not played with great flare or too much imagination, barring the lead guitar and the keyboards. The rhythm guitar and the bass aren't actually distorted as much as it might sound, but the thickness of the guitars particularly is disconcerting and seems to spread like oil across a pond, tainting all the other sounds in the mix. There is something so appropriate about the way the guitarists interact: the rhythm is all torture and struggle - the sound of dragging huge stones towards the site of a monumental church - while the lead provides the sinister intricacy of those embellishments that makes the historical gothic so fascinating. The lead tone on this album has never been reproduced, either by Gregor Mackintosh or anyone else. It sounds like it was pulled back through the mists of time; it's creepily atmospheric, despairingly forlorn, and seriously mean as well. The drums are the only thing that are a little disappointing here, since they're fairly ordinary and not that heavy, but the power of the guitars hides them, which is for the best.

There's something stirring in the vocal department that gives us the last clue to the fate of the gothic. Nick Holmes is gruff and heavy - fairly clear, though never clean (dirty would be my word) - but there is the presence Sarah Marrion pointing to the male/female vocal pairing that would come to define the genre called gothic metal. It's important to note that this album is not gothic metal, it's doom metal, but the piercing female vocals on the title track and 'The Painless', plus those gloomily reflective religious lyrics, are a major influence. On this album, those gothic metal elements are rare and are inspired additions, which do not dilute the morbid chilliness of the sound. There are a couple of keyboard sections that add an epic touch: the heroic overdubs on 'Dead Emotion' are so grand and descriptive, it feels like riding up to the gates of a castle abandoned for a hundred years.

Picking out songs from 'Gothic' is a bit like picking the child you would like to be eaten first, but there are some that stand out above others. The opening pair are completely flawless and 'Angel Tears' is an instrumental that is unexpected yet delightful, while 'Shattered' and 'Silent' are occasionally a little clunky, due to a more simplistic structure than the other offerings. However, the album is definitely best listened to as a unified experience, where its stark oddness and thrilling menace can pull you in and bury you in obscurity.

The darkness of Denley Moor - 88%

Acrobat, August 25th, 2014
Written based on this version: 1991, CD, Peaceville Records

For a time in the 1990s, Yorkshire was at the centre of the doom movement; as led by Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride (both hailing from the same West Yorkshire town). In other places you had Harrogate’s Gaz Jennings whose riffing on Forest of Equilibrium would influence a great deal of doom to come and Huddersfield’s Solstice who would make a huge contribution to the epic doom sound. Something about the region was obviously key in inspiring these bands to pick up the torch from Candlemass, Vitus, Celtic Frost and Sabbath. After all, Yorkshire itself is often a dark place to be in. From Whitby – with its vampires and ghostly black dogs under the ruined abbey’s shadow – across often unwelcoming moorland to York’s imposing cathedral to Leeds and Bradford’s darker recesses where Savile and Sutcliffe practiced their wicked acts on both the living and the dead. Indeed, the grim moors and heavy precipitation (“even when it weren’t raining there was always a heavy sense of damp in the air”) have influenced the county’s temperament to such an extent that it should come as no surprise that the region was a fertile breeding ground for such gloomy music (outside of metal there was a strong goth rock scene that produced such acts as the Sisters of Mercy and The Mission).

So, it really should be no surprise that the death-doom movement was spearheaded in the North of England – let’s not forget Liverpudlian Roger Waters enthusiasts, Anathema – and Paradise Lost were really at the forefront of the scene. With Gothic standing as perhaps the first classic album of the style (I consider the eponymous debut to be something of a dreary, embryonic rumbling). It’s clear that Paradise Lost really wanted to branch out from the death metal scene at this point (although there’s nothing that would remind you of later albums where they’d emerge from their chrysalis as the Def Leppard of doom-death). What with their penchant for those operatic clean vocals, ambient interludes and violins it’s not difficult to see that PL are inspired by Celtic Frost’s half-classic/half-artistic nonsense ‘opus’, Into the Pandemonium. Obviously, they’ve taken some influence from TGW’s artistic pretensions and they’ve actually put them into practice better. I wouldn’t say that the female vocalist’s voice is outstanding, but her parts are certainly apt and the violins are most welcome. Still, it’s not unusual for later bands to improve on the ideas of pioneers and just as Paradise Lost improved on some Frost one could make a case for, say, Dance of the December Souls or Mystic Places of Dawn being finer albums than this (the jury’s still out as far as I’m concerned).

At this point it’s clear that Paradise Lost had a clear artistic vision and wished very much to infuse that sense of gothic grandeur into their already down-trodden metal. Whereas the debut was certainly a dank and foreboding album it lacked some of this grandiosity. On this album, however, Paradise Lost are as grand and stately as they’d ever be. The title track’s haunting lead guitars come out like a thick fog rolling across the moors and, as the album progresses, it really doesn’t offer any sort of relief and respite from this heavy, heavy sense of dread. The band’s use of guitar harmonies adds to this feeling; much like Trouble before them they understand the dramatic importance a harmony line can give. In this case they take already bitter melodies and makes them as dour as they could be. Certainly, Gregor Macintosh deserves the praise he gets for crafting such a strange sound. This dour feeling is actually heightened by the album’s production, which has been a point of contention for some, but you can’t deny that this off-kilter sound only strengthens this album’s foreboding tone. It’s sonically imperfect, which, in-turn makes it sonically perfect for the material at hand. I probably suspect that it’s the work of a studio who were unaccustomed to extreme metal. This was often the case with early 1990s extreme metal productions and that’s probably why I sometimes prefer these more oddball sounds to the assembly-line approach (Borissound and Bunlight, respectively).

While this album has often been mimicked and its style has spread itself out across the extreme metal scene (even if you’ve not heard Gothic you probably have heard something that has taken a lot from it – from locations as diverse as Finland and Sweden, would you believe!). That said, however, it still strikes me that this album has a certain vibe that’s difficult to replicate. The tempos are not as locked in a funeral trudge like some muddy procession as a lot of the band’s followers would be. Indeed, they aren’t afraid to strive forward with some faster moments, calling to mind, again, Celtic Frost whose speedier moments still carried a great deal of weight with them. Surprisingly brisk, you might say. But then again, doom has never been defined only by its tempo in my book. Certainly, the band understands the worth of an effective tempo change; with ‘Dead Emotion’ being a prime example. For instance, you get the ghastly stomp of the main riff, counteracted by the slower solo section with Gregor’s tortured leads.

As is sometimes the case, it seems that Paradise Lost are a band who got less mature as they grew older as Draconian Times is a lot more adolescent than what you find here. Lyrically, this album seems less “alone as owt” than their later material and more concerned with an existential dread. Surely, there’s something more ancient, more indifferent to the music here. Less personal, sure, but also darker and more Christian albeit not in the same way Trouble or Candlemass might be. Candlemass had angels coming down from heaven, but Paradise Lost have no sign of divine light. Take ‘Rapture’ for example, which simply is a desperate cry for forgiveness from a lord… who probably isn’t going to answer. Man seems quite powerless in the whole thing; doomed to damnation and God’s probably busy elsewhere, if not entirely absent. About as gloomy as it gets, I reckon.

Still lives up to its namesake - 89%

RedMisanthrope, February 24th, 2008

To call Paradise Lost a "seminal" gothic metal band would be an understatement. While My Dying Bride and Anathema were most certainly helped shed light on the dark, dingy corners of gothic/doom/death metal, Paradise Lost gave it the biggest push forward and set the standards for many of today's similar acts. Their debut "Lost Paradise" was certainly nothing special. It had the "As the Flower Withers" syndrome. Good ideas, sloppy execution. It wasn't until "Gothic" that the band truly started to take shape, and believe me when I say that this album is still something to beheld, even after almost two decades of existence.

This album is exactly what the title says it is; Gothic. Not the dress in black, eyeliner, type gothic, but the feel of the album itself. Few albums since have quite matched the type of atmosphere that resonates from this work. These are the sounds of castles with gargoyle statues clinging to their crumbling roofs. A place where hallways are visible only by the grace of the moon, where English lords keep their terrible secrets in candlelit chambers. It invokes sleepless nights, sweaty bed sheets, where open curtains reveal stained glass window panes that glare at you. There's something amidst in the courtyard, and wheather it's of this earth is up to the listener. The feeling I get when I listen to this album is almost one of a kind.

Songs like the title track, "Dead Emotion", "Shattered", and "Rapture" are exactly what make this album so genuine. Nick Holmes's voice is a raw growl that fits the dirty atmosphere perfectly. He also uses a deep, speaking voice in the aforementioned "Shattered" that, depending on what time of the night it is, may just make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. The lyrics are your standard poetic ramblings, yet they never feel too melodramatic just for the sake of being more "dark". There's also some nice female vocals to add some spice to this doom soup. Of course, much like salt, too much is just far too much. However this young lady is used just enough times to drive the ideas of the songs forward, and leave the band to do their thing.

While the lyrics and vocals are fitting, Gregor Mackintosh is most definitely the star of this album. Every vocal line would be for naught if it wasn't for his guitar. The melodies are so simple, yet so prompt and in your face that you won't forget them for days. "Gothic" is tattered with piercing harmonies like screams in the night, they leave an impression on you. Few times have I ever heard a guitar on a doom album that is so appropriately used. The drums and bass also do exactly what they need to do. They are the post that hold up this death bed, and give everything a nice extra punch. Yet of course this album is not completely perfect. Things start to drag just a bit towards the end, the song "Falling Forever" just doesn't have the same feel as the other songs, and the outro is pretty pointless. Yet this is probably because all the other songs are so well done, that minor flaws stick out like a scene kid at a Black Panther convention.

"Gothic" has set the standard for bands like Swallow the Sun and Draconian, and while it may not be a perfect album, it is more than effective and deserves a spot in metal history as a forerunner to all things dismal. Highly recommended.

Prime example of PERFECT DOOMDEATH! - 100%

grimdoom, April 30th, 2007

Its has been said before that the phrase “Master Piece” is in the eye of the beholder (or perhaps the ear of the listener in this case) but with regards to Paradise Lost, this was their finest hour. Not to say that they peaked early, but this was their best/biggest contribution to Metal/music, period.

In Gothic we see a band that (to this day) believes that they created “Gothic” Metal, when in fact there is nothing “Gothic” about “Gothic”. This album is considered one of the best (if not the best) example of Doomdeath Metal. Paradise Lost are perhaps the best example of a band that is always trying to find themselves.

The album starts out with the title track ‘Gothic’ and from there takes the listener on a dark and epic voyage through sound. The music (despite terrible recording) is amazing. The guitars are thick and heavy, the melodies and chord/scale patterns they use were/are unique and have never been imitated. This is the album where they developed their trademarked melancholy sound.

The leads and solos are never masturbatory (not like that is bad thing) and always tasteful in regards each song. The overall sound of the album is consistent and flawless.

The bass and the drums are always on par as well. The drums in particular are inventive. In the style of Doomdeath, the drummer cannot rely on speed, and must therefore compensate with talent and creativity. These two in tandem with the guitars makes this one intense album.

The vocals are excellent as well. This was album where we hear Nick at his best with regards to the raw style of production that they had. Had this album received the production of ‘Shades of God’ or ‘Icon’ they would have been even more pronounced. This was also the last album that showcased the band in ‘B’ tuning.

This album couldn’t get any better, unless the production had been stepped up by Peaceville. That is the only flaw of this recording, that and that it’s assumed that this is ‘Gothic Metal’ in its infancy. This is DOOMDEATH at its finest, without a trace of anything ‘Gothic’ and a must have for any serious Metalhead!

A new kind of Doom... - 80%

CannibalCorpse, May 18th, 2006

I agree with what the last reviewer said about Paradise Lost's debut album "Lost Paradise". It was not a bad release but seriously flawed in all areas.

They fixed most of these problems here.

What they did NOT solve:

The production. As already mentioned in other reviews, it's just a bit too weak for PL's sound on Gothic. The rhythm guitars sound too thin and sometimes the vocals seem to drown out the guitars and drums because they are quite up-front. Bass is pretty much inaudible, but that's not much of a downer in Paradise Lost's case.

The song themselves are varied and never drag on for too long, Nick Holmes' growls are perfectly placed, as well as Sarah Marrion's great clean vocal performances. The lead guitars, played by Gregor Mackintosh are the definite highlight of the album. There are many lead parts all over the album, but Gregor's best performance can be heard in "Angel Tears". Even though it's instrumental and fairly short, it's my favourite part of the album. The drumming is rather typical and nothing to be excited about, but it does what it's supposed to do.


Overall, it's a very good album, not a masterpiece by any means (they'd never produce a masterpiece in my opinion) but worth owning, even if for the historical factor only.


Recommended for fans of Death/Doom.
Highlights: Angel Tears, Falling Forever

A Highly Significant Release - 95%

corviderrant, April 6th, 2004

Their first album was OK at best, but vive le difference! "Gothic" is far, far better in terms of the fact that PL were more confident than before, and it showed. The tunes were heavier and more streamlined, made more sense musically, and just WORKED. The atmosphere on this album is unbeatable in the gloominess it evokes, it is so eerie and haunting and mournful it will calm you down like nothing else. To illustrate the mood of this album, I was listening to it constantly as I was traveling back and forth to visit my grandmother as she was slowly dying about a dozen years ago, and it was how I felt inside without having to express it in words.

The beauty of this album is that it is curiously uplifting in its depression. "Gothic", with its orchestral breaks and heavenly female vocals (from Sarah Marrion), alone will do that as it takes you on a journey through your soul, along with Gregor Mackintosh's breathtaking lead guitar. There are, of course, plenty of lead-heavy moments to go around, but they are well-arranged and never boring.

"Dead Emotion" is another insanely heavy number both musically and, well, emotionally, contrary to what the title implies--Nick Holmes' vocals are incredible, and really grab you. His growl/scream vocals work perfectly with the band's approach, and his screams in particular will make your hair stand on end, with their raspy timbre.

Doom metal normally doesn't do it for me, but this is one very loud exception (despite the weak production). Get this and allow yourself to be swept away from your problems for a while with stellar guitar playing, vocals, and riffs that will cleanse you as "Gothic" will most certainly do. Gregor Mackintosh never quite topped his performance on this album, which was so emotional (to use that highly appropriate word again) and deep it went to my core and tickled my very being. Get this and see what doom truly is.

Paradise Lost reach new heights with Gothic! - 93%

WitheringToSerenity, March 15th, 2004

Whether this album spawned the birth of gothic metal or not one thing is for certain. Paradise Lost second effort Gothic, has certainly shown a maturation as well as a vast improvement in their doom/death sound. This album is still retains their morbid sound yet more listenable with a very solid performance by Nick Holmes. Not Nick's best vocal performance but shows definite improvements and that he is on the way up to reaching his full potential. Other reasons for this album tight heavy rhythm guitar as well as one of many inspiring performances from Gregor Mackintosh and his lead guitar work as well. He truly is the mastermind behind this unique band and one sorely underrated guitarist. The lead guitar is a crucial part of their sound and what makes this album so memorable.

The bass/drumming isnt too great, but that is a given in most bands in this genre and not as much of a concern. To top this impressive album off is the addition of female vocals in songs Gothic and The Painless as well as the occassional violin which works quite well and makes fans wonder if they would have benefited from incorporating more of these more gothic influences into their music. Some standout tracks include the title track, Gothic, one of their greatest of all time as well as one of Gregor's finer lead introductions in Rapture, the crushing riffs, powerful growled vocals and melodic violin of Eternal, the brilliant instrumental Angel Tears and the very fitting closing song(not including outro) The Painless, a fitting rival to Gothic's creativity and sound. Then I'd be forgetting Shattered and Falling Forever. The point to this is that there are no weak songs on this album.

In conclusion, this is an essential for any Paradise Lost fan and a must listen for anyone interested in discovering this great band. One of their greatest efforts without a shadow of a doubt. To think they go on to better things as well! Good work Paradise Lost!!! : )