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Not for Fans of Paradise Lost - 90%

Zombie_Quixote, June 18th, 2008

Those who fell in love with the melancholy beauty that this band would eventually evolve into will be sorely disappointed by this release. After this release Paradise Lost were never so doom and gloom; oh there was doom and there was certainly gloom but it was all shone in a different light. In the beginning the band was dirty in its portrayal of themes it would later attempt to clean up.

Let's say Paradise Lost is a single room apartment. We look into that apartment now and what do we see? Light shining through stain glass windows; lively roses set and arranged neatly on a table covered in white lace; a wine bottle and half full wine glass before an empty polished table. Spiders crawl across dustless walls. A raven is perched in a gold cage in the right hand corner of the room. There's darkness here but it contrasts well with the other things in the room. The spiders glistening bodies hardly seem menacing in the daylight. The raven's cage is kept clean; the bird sits quiet, composed and noble.

The room is very much different than it was when Holmes and Co. first opened its door. What they found in Lost Paradise was a room thick covered in layers of black dust. The light was deadened by hanging rags riddled with moth-eaten holes. The flowers were withered and crisp brown petals covered the dirty, white lace. The wine was tipped over and pouring over the table; the glass was shattered; flies swarmed and ate the decaying liquid. The raven's cage was tarnished and its insides were covered in the bird's feathers and waste. The raven was still alive, it was howling mad and rushed the bars of its prison as Holmes approached it. And the spider's were still there. They were larger, hairier, blacker. Their webs covered every corner of darkened room. They were joined by friends: roaches that emerged from shadows and hissed at intruders.

The rooms are the same beast split in two; light and shadow to one another. One is pleasant and does nothing to scare away those who find themselves within it. The other is uncomfortable to say the least. But doom metal was never meant to be found in the first room. Doom metal, like mold, was meant to be grown in the dark, in the dank and dirty.

Lost Paradise cuts with a dirty blade. It hammers the listener with crushing riffs and harsh vocals. It drowns you in a dirty tub, pulls you up gasping for breath, only to plunge you back into the black water.

It's Black Sabbath's first album meets the early demos of Hellhammer. While the death metal bands of the same era wanted to bury you with speed, Paradise Lost and the death/doom scene took a different tact. The riffs on this release tremble relentlessly at a maddeningly slow pace. It's hard to describe what they've done here. The bass melts into itself, the drums are slow- hardly displaying the raw talent that bands like Suffocation did with their rhythm section- yet they beat like a pulse behind the music. The riffs aren't stagnant, and couldn't be described as minimalistic, there's certainly the complex structure akin to death metal somewhere in here.

I prefer this sound to what the band would later become. I find it like the difference between the American version of The Ring and its Japanese counterpart Ringu. The Ring is well produced, it's more aesthetically pleasing, and it's emotional. But there's something about Ringu that's just right for the story. It's raw and bleak, which magnifies the horrifying themes of the story. Just like Lost Paradise. More for fans of the things that go bump in the night.