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Bed-wetter - 58%

gasmask_colostomy, November 15th, 2016

When one thinks of Paradise Lost's seminal early album Gothic, one thinks of child prodigies like Mozart and Picasso, since it essentially set the ground rules for a genre that was still unthought of, even by the band themselves - that of gothic metal. When one thinks of Icon, from two years later, one brings to mind young gymnasts and divers who have complete control of their bodies at a relatively young age, such is the elegance and power with which that album moves. However, when one thinks of Lost Paradise, one tends to imagine a child who hasn't yet stopped wetting the bed or has not fully mastered walking.

In some ways certainly linked to Gothic, there is a strong death metal tang to the doomy rumble and grind of these songs, made more overt by the frequently strong percussion provided by Matthew Archer and Nick Holmes's guttural roars, although the lyrics actually come through fairly clearly. Structurally, most of the compositions read like old death metal, without many repeating parts (certainly nothing like a chorus), plenty of changes of pace and direction, as well as the use of lead guitar as a more atmospheric distraction from the brutality around it. What Paradise Lost manage to do well here is get that atmosphere to the front of things, since there isn't anything amazing going on with the riff work, so it's left to Gregor Mackintosh to wail hauntingly atop the grimy chords and the additional keyboards (although uncredited, surely Peaceville's own Hammy provided some). As such, everything is like a uniformly terrifying crawl into the recesses of some black tomb, each step of which brings fresh horror and its own horrific thoughts. The original production was supposed to be hideous and might actually add to the grimness, though I'm dealing with the remastered version, which would seem to be quite an improvement.

Other than the atmosphere and Mackintosh's spooky leads, there isn't a great deal to write home about. The riffs are probably 80% slow, with a couple of rolling deathly parts thrown in to keep you guessing and a lot of parts that might actually have been inspired purely from horror movies. There are moments, such as the beginning of 'Frozen Illusion', where you might wonder if this is what Black Sabbath would have sounded like in a world without pop music, since the same effect is being aimed for, even if sometimes we also hear an idea from Autopsy or Obituary, which could have been picked up by Asphyx and their ilk. There are also a very few moments where you can hear that Paradise Lost would briefly become the leaders of a gothic doom scene which they would quickly surrender to My Dying Bride, such as the now ubiquitous use of female vocals on 'Breeding Fear', the slow melodic guitar line that closes 'Frozen Illusion', or the doom riffs on 'Deadly Inner Sense'. However, like many first albums by influential bands, this is a bit of a soup for much of its length.

Those looking for memorable songs are thus going to come up against a problem, since there isn't a great deal to distinguish the seven main features here (including 'Internal Torment II', present on most editions). Mackintosh's ideas are the best signposts, particularly if one is looking towards his glowering solo work on 'Paradise Lost' or the atmosphere that is conjured on 'Rotting Misery', replete with light bells and keys that do more to make it stand out. The faster sections of 'Our Saviour' and 'Internal Torment II' are both fairly cool, although neither song has the organization to make the good parts really stick. The better songs probably belong to the second half, though it's more suitable to take in the whole experience and feel the sense of place, which is sometimes very potent. A first step that should be confined to the places its sounds depict - somewhere shrouded in darkness.