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The parabola shifts - 61%

gasmask_colostomy, September 20th, 2019

What did Paradise Lost mean by naming their tenth album after the band? One can hardly believe that the title of John Milton’s epic poem had any significance at this point in the Yorkshiremen’s career, nor that Paradise Lost constitutes an accurate statement of the band’s sound and ethos. With hindsight, this is often referenced as the point on the swooping parabola of Paradise Lost’s career where nearly a decade of wandering through gothic rock, electronic pop, and radio rock finally came to an end and metal was embraced again; however, I see nothing clear-cut about the transition, and would probably point to Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us as the most obvious proof that PL were turning back to heaviness for good. Yes, I’m a sceptic of In Requiem, but I have a review for that album already. What I think of Paradise Lost is a little trickier to reckon.

This 2005 album probably marks the point at which PL gave up the ghost in terms of commercial appeal and started to satisfy their hardcore fans again. Specifically, the 12 songs presented here are mostly very slow for commercial music, quite depressing, and have that vibe particular to the band. Compared to the venture through electronic territory on “the diversion albums” (as I like to think of them) Host and Believe in Nothing, we come back to a sound more focused on band unity and riffing, which makes certain songs much heavier than the group’s millennial period. ‘All You Leave Behind’ is a noteworthy example, not only because of its heaviness and bite, but also due to the main riff meeting many of the criteria for a metalcore breakdown, palm-muting aside. From another point of view – speaking as a fan of the preceding album Symbol of Life – I’d say that PL had already implemented the heaviness much more convincingly on the vaguely industrial likes of ‘Isolate’ and ‘Perfect Mask’; on Paradise Lost, the riffing isn’t particularly memorable, nor does it give much context to the songs.

The key aspects of the band have always been the distinctive melodies of Gregor Mackintosh, in addition to Nick Holmes’s cryptic and emotional lyrics and vocal delivery. More or less the minimum helping of these elements gets served up on ‘Spirit’, ‘Accept the Pain’, and ‘Shine’, all feeling rather like a process to work through rather than songs to enjoy. In a phrase: no magic. The gradual opener ‘Don’t Belong’ also doesn’t really add much to the album, though it comes across as an attempt to do something different, as with the more prominent doom textures of ‘Over the Madness’, which closes out proceedings in solid style, even if it isn’t as great as some fans claim. Any of those songs could have been excised from the album without any noticeable difference to the quality, so it’s a shame to say that a great quantity of filler exists here without Paradise Lost being overlong, clocking in at 47 minutes. Generally speaking, much of this seems rather limp and forgettable.

The less obvious reverse of that statement is that some of this album is strong and memorable. Granted, none of it can be called powerful exactly, but PL have always exploited a good sense of dynamics to make choruses stick, a factor aided by Holmes giving a bit of welly to ‘Laws of Cause’ and ‘Shine’ despite the verses being quite messy. The single material ‘Forever After’ and ‘Grey’ (which wasn’t actually released as such, though was prepared with that in mind) contains some of Holmes’s best lyrics on Paradise Lost, avoiding the empty repetition and simplicity of many of the other songs for a stab at the mirroring style he would later develop, while both songs go in different dynamic directions. The energy of ‘Grey’ going into its rhythmically powerful chorus contrasts well with dreary images of “autumn skies” and “the dead fading away”, representing the best of the simple verse-chorus structured songs. In fact, ‘Forever After’ was the first PL song I heard and set my expectations for gothic metal, what with the backing choirs, swooping melodies, and baritone vocals. Since Stephen Edmondson’s bass pumps away throughout this cut, I wonder if this might be the PL song that has the closest ties to ‘80s goth rock. From the angle of Joy Division, the hypnotic melody of ‘Sun Fading’ may fit in somewhere too.

As much as I’m generally unimpressed by Paradise Lost, it doesn’t strike me as an essentially poor album, nor an entirely confused one like Believe in Nothing. What PL lacked on their self-titled effort was the energy and confidence to challenge themselves, meaning that the album ended up slightly homogeneous and bland, as well as largely empty of that spark that can turn a slow, melancholy song into a heartfelt anthem. That emptiness is what makes me question the decision of making Paradise Lost self-titled: is that how PL saw themselves in 2005, as a band barren of meaning and emotion, searching and wandering without hope for something forever lost? We’ll probably never know for sure, but I take pleasure in thinking that recent albums from the band seem much more spirited by comparison, as if something was regained during the new ascendancy. Here’s to the continuation of that trend.

No thanks - 40%

colin040, November 10th, 2017

Anyone who knows me a little bit too much, knows that I’m a fan of Paradise Lost. Greg is a distinct guitar player, Nick Holmes is a unique vocalist (though not as versatile as he’d like to be) and the guys just know how to come up with interesting tunes that consist of some simple hooks. Let’s face it though, the band drifted away when they stopped playing metal and no matter how you look at it, that will piss people off. Personally I don't hate that era of the band or anything, but that's neither here or there.

Now this record is a gothic metal album and it’s also called…Paradise Lost. I’m not sure whether that was a sign of laziness or to proclaim that this would be a comeback, but if the latter was the case, then this certainly doesn’t scream ‘’comeback!’’. Sure, they brought back the guitars in the front but if that makes you satisfied no matter what, maybe your expectations are just a little too low. I can only imagine how a conversation between Greg and Nick went when they were writing this record:

Greg: ‘’Alright Nick, listen up! I’ve written these songs and as you can tell the guitars sound quite distorted, just so we would get fans interested in us again!’’
Nick: ‘’Are you sure that’s enough? Have you actually written some riffs this time?
Greg: ‘’Who cares? It’s the distortion that counts! Now prepare to sing about your personal issues and use effects on your voice if necessary!’’

Maybe I’m exaggerating, but this seriously sounds like Paradise Lost were operating on auto pilot. The band’s strength were always songs of a simple verse/chorus format, but here things become so tiring quickly as the amount of variation is absolutely minimal. At worst it also sounds like these guys were trying to catch up with the trends of the time. Take ‘’Redshift’’ for example, which is a pseudo-heavy modern tune that out of all bands reminds me of Linking Park for crying out loud! If that wasn’t enough already, there are plenty of piano passages popping up that could work well like drama movie soundtracks, but that’s not something you’d want to hear on a Paradise Lost album now, would you? Greg and Aaron chug their way through the album, offering riffs that give me more of a modern rock vibe than anything else, which is just a waste of their talents. Greg brought back some actual leads this time, but they’re totally devoid of any magic and just seem to appear because they could. Lyrically I almost get the idea this album was out there to gain attention of younger audience. Themes seem to be about personal subjects (you know, relationships and such) and are delivered in such a manner that doesn’t exactly convey much to me. Holmes sounds fairly civilized and while I’m fond of his belting which does recall his younger self to a certain degree, his breathy lines sound rather angsty and becomes annoying very quickly.

I have no idea what the band were thinking by putting the best song on the end of the album, but ‘’Over the Madness’’ is actually enjoyable, has some identity to it (such an accomplishment!) and sounds surprisingly doom metal-like at times. Sure, it’s got some soft verses, but it contrasts well with some moving riffs and Greg even manages to come up with an atmospheric solo that totally steals the show. Still, after having heard an abomination like ‘’Redshift’’ I don’t blame people for not even making it this far!

Overall, Paradise Lost is a crap record. It’s not always awful and certain tunes are more plainly inoffensive radio gothic metal (‘’Forever After’’, ‘’Accept the Pain’’) than anything else, but the day I’ll ‘’get’’ this, is the day the world would come to an end. It’s pretty impressive how the band got their act together in some years from here, but that’s worth mentioning elsewhere. No cookie for you this time, guys.

Yes, its really that good. - 98%

grimdoom, January 17th, 2009

The almost sullen piano opening is almost humorous in its delivery; not to say that its funny, but more like a tongue in cheek way of saying "we're back". Like a tot who’s fessing up to something they previously lied about, there is a subtle and cautious smirk as if said child was testing the waters to see if they'd be forgiven for finally being honest or punished at a halfhearted attempt of redemption so far after the fact.

Breaking away from metaphor, this is what should have logically come after 'Draconian Times'. The production is as good if not a little better than what was heard on 'Symbol of Life', and like the aforementioned this is a very simple album. There is a very organic feel to this recording as well as there are virtually no electronics present. The guitars are seemingly tighter than they have ever been before (courtesy of new drummer Jeff) and their intensity shines brilliantly as a result. On this album we also see a return to more lead based riffs as well. They are perhaps limited compared to their latest offering but more noticeable than on their prior album. There is more open chorded parts to palm muted ones but it works surprisingly well. There are fairly sinister moments thrown into the more accessible radio friendly format that the band has been fine tuning since 'Once Second'.

The bass is once again doing nothing outstanding. The drums (as stated above) are brilliant. According to the bands 'Over the Madness' DVD Jeff was originally going to be the drummer that the band had on 'Draconian Times' but lost to Lee Morris because of his more glammed out drum kit and Californian attitude (having just come back from said part of the world). This is also the album where the band finally use a double bass flood towards the end of one song. This particular flare hasn't been heard since DT.

The vocals are once again semi raspy but mostly clean. Given Nick's latest offerings from 'In Requiem' its apparent that he can't or won't go back to the tough Thrashed out vocals he once used. The lyrics are more or less the same that they've been for the past ten years or so. This is a bit of an annoyance since the verse chorus verse format, especially in the bands honed formula has grown stale.

Over all, this is a very accessible Doom Metal album. This is a dark album despit the prior statment. Paradise Lost are one of the few bands that can pull this sort of thing off convincingly. The melodies are very well thought out and the songs structures are so that any one of these songs could've been a hit. Sadly only one was, but in all honesty just about every song on here should have been. This is a very nice, though long over due, return to a more heavier sound. This was also a very nice precursor to the masterwork that followed. Is this album the bands best? Not by a long shot, but it does blow everything after DT out of the water and in hindsight, its really just a kick ass headbanger. For fans and Doom mongers alike because once again, the Gods of Doom delievered.

Nice return to form. - 90%

Dark_Gnat, July 18th, 2007

Paradise Lost was one of my favorite bands during their mid period. They started of as a doom-death band, but have expanded their sound with each release, with debatable results. "Draconian Times" was the last truly metal album from them. After this point, the band experimented with electronics, and slight industrial sounds, creating a form of gothic rock.

Generally, I get irritated when a band does not title an album. I think it is fine if it’s the first album, but it often leads to confusion. For example, When Metallica released their self title album (today commonly called “The Black Album”) there were many new fans who thought it was their first release. However, I think “Paradise Lost” is a sort of comeback album, from a metal point of view, and the title reminds me of their first album, “Lost Paradise”.

With this release, PL has steered back toward their mid period sound, but perhaps a very modern version if it. On previous releases, such as "Believe in Nothing" the songs were downright pop music, with barely audible guitars. "Paradise Lost" however, is very much a guitar driven album. The electronics are there, but they serve to enhance the dark mood of the music, and sometimes are not even noticed.

Nick’s voice has changed a bit over the years, and he is not as rough as he once was. No one can deny his talent, though. He has a great range, and delivers the lyrics soulfully sorrowfully on this album. "Over The Madness" and "All You Leave Behind" feature a slight return to the older style: louder, a little edgy, but not overdone. Anyone wanting to find his deathly roars of ages past (“Gothic” and "Shades of God" era) will have to keep looking.

The guitars are very much in the forefront here. Gregor's songwriting is as strong as ever, and he displays a range of emotive and interesting ideas. He is not the kind of guitarist who plays a million notes per minute. Instead, he focuses on the emotion of every note, and plays accordingly. "Accept the Pain" and "Shine" display this. He uses simple melodies to convey powerful feelings, which is one of PL greatest strengths.

Bass is nothing particularly astounding here, but it definitely adds to the lower end without overpowering the guitars. This creates a nice warm sound, and provides a good contrast to the higher notes. It is competent and gets the job done well.

Jeff Singer plays drums here as a session drummer, and not surprisingly, he has since become a full member of the band. His drumming is powerful and confident. “Sun Fading” showcases a very heavy slow double-bass beat that synchs with the rhythm guitars and bass, evoking the doom machine that has been absent for years.

The production is excellent. All of the instruments can be heard clearly, and separately. At times, the guitars sound too polished (something that has plagued PL since "Draconian Times") but are clearly heavier than the last few albums. Drums pound nice and full, and the overall mix is well balanced.

Even the artwork is reminiscent of "Shades of God" but with a blacker deeper pallet. The art is appropriate and lush. I find that artwork can alter the mood of the music significantly, and there are times when the artwork does not fit the music well. Here, it fits nicely, and is done beautifully.

Clearly, PL has shed the pop music in favor of an updated, but heavy and dark sound. The songs still follow a verse-chorus pattern, but they have always used that style. There is nothing wrong with that, provided you do it well. This is the Paradise Lost album I've wanted to hear for years, is a nice return to form. There are parts that feel a little restrained, as though they were not quite ready go as heavy as they could. I'm sure there will be some who feel it's not heavy enough, and on the surface, it seems a little poppy, but give it a spin with a good pair of headphones on, and you'll appreciate it more.

This is a nice, solid gothic metal album, and recommended to fans of “Icon” and “Draconian Times”, and hopefully will introduce fans of the last few albums to their heavier roots.

Another killer album - 98%

Etheron_malm, January 10th, 2006

If you really are a fan of Paradise Lost then there’s no chance not to like this album. And when we are talking about Paradise Lost, you can’t even pick out a favorite PL album. You just can’t, because every album is unique and offers just everything. The vibe, the musical inventiveness, and especially the atmosphere that surrounds Paradise Lost make you loving all of their material. So it’s really hard to decide which album might be the best from PL because all of them just own (except just a tiny bit of Host which is not exactly my taste). I’ve been into Paradise Lost for 4-5 years, having listened to all of their material. I had bought Symbol of Life which had just come out and I was really amazed, looking forward for their next release. And I have to admit that I didn’t expected that Paradise Lost (Album) would be as good as Symbol of Life (as the new Paradise Lost – era (and I don’t like to categorize PL to new and old).

But I was wrong! Paradise Lost (Album) might be the best Paradise Lost release so far. Even better than Icon and Draconian which are my two favorite albums from the old Paradise Lost – era. The album has it all, killer riffs, killer vocals (nick holmes at he’s best), unique atmosphere etc.

I don’t think there is a ‘worse’ song in this album. Every song has its own unique melody and originality + some influences from their older albums such as Icon, raconian and Symbol of Life.Grey, Over the madness, Don’t Belong, Sun fading, Shine, Spirit might be the best songs from this album, not that the others are not good but those 6 songs are just my personal favorites. The only thing a didn’t like from this album are those dub mixes.

I believe that this album is a must for every Paradise Lost fan. And some people who said that this album is overrated are gonna release the value of this album after a long time.

The Paradise is Lost once again! - 80%

Agni, March 26th, 2005

The once pioneers of doom-death and later on gothic-rock/metal are back with their self titled, 0th studio album Paradise Lost. This is one band that has had quite a fascinating evolution since their conception in 1990. Alot of purists will dismiss them as 'washed up has beens', but here's another take from someone who has enjoyed all their eras..almost.

Paradise Lost, until a few years back, were one of the more daring metal bands, when it came to making decisions that could make or break their careers. They had somewhat perfected their art of doom-death with masterpieces such as Gothic and Shades of God, and could have stayed in the comfort zone that they had created for themselves with their fans. But their next offering Icon showed that they were not interested in stagnating with their craft. With some added catchiness, and drift to a more cleaner vocal style, they released two great albums that are now considered to be the stepping stones for gothic metal/rock. Their next album 'One Second' showed a drastic shift in style away from the Draconian Times era material, but still managed to capture their dark, depressive atmosphere inspite of bieng alot more mellow. Host, their most daring album, showed a heavy 'Depeche Mode' influence. Minimalistic guitars, syth driven beats, but in spirit, it was still very much Paradise Lost. Their next two albums, Believe in Nothing and Symbol of Life, were attempts to get back to their heavier side...Symbol of Life being the better of the two, but still not quite there. Which brings us to their 10th offering, Paradise Lost.

The first impression I got, after listening to the first few tracks was.."This time they really mean it." The guitars are back in the mix, and heavy as ever! Greg Mackintosh's trademark lead style is back in the fold, which makes their sound immediately noticeable. Nick Holmes'
performance has also taken a turn to a more heavier, darker style...his most aggressive performance since Draconian Times. The keyboards, which had been at the forefront of their sound on One Second and Host, are now pushed into the background, but are still very effective in their job.

As for the songs themselves, they hold pretty well. They follow the standard verse/chorus structure, but they are held together very well with a mix of great choruses, strong verses and an overall catchy but dark feel. They are also short in duration (The most epic song is a little over 5 minutes), which works in their favour in most of the songs. The solos however, are a bit too short for my liking.Although they fit the songs well, and are tastefully done, they could have done with a little extra time. The solo on All This Was is particulary breathtaking (not in the shredding sense), however short.

This album sits very well between Draconian Times and One Second, since it shares alot of characteristics of those two albums. Its defintely their strongest release since Host (which I thought was brilliant), and their heaviest since Draconian Times. If Greg Mackintosh had taken a little more participation in the solos, the album on a whole could have lifted itself from "strong and solid" to great. Atleast theyre heading in the right direction.

Best picks: 'Dont Belong', 'Close your Eyes', 'All This Was', 'For All You Leave Behind', 'Forever After'.

I expected as much... - 50%

orphy, March 24th, 2005

Paradise Lost's new album is pretty significant to their career. It's a self titled release which pays tribute to their first album released in 1990 titled "Lost Paradise". But in fifteen years and ten albums later, does this new album sound anything like the release it pays tribute too?

Sadly, the answer is no. I myself haven't heard anything they've released since "Draconian Times", and it does appear they've kept going with the gothic rock sound. Not that it's a bad thing, because I really liked "Draconian Times". This however, is a really boring album. The songs are structurally identical, featuring soft verses, hard choruses and melodic breaks. Sounds like rock to me.

Really, there is nothing interesting going on in this album. I got pretty bored with it, and doubt I'll be listening to it much at all. Unlike Katatonia, Paradise Lost is unable to create songs with interesting atmosphere, even though both bands switched from quality doom metal to more of a shoe-gazer sound. They really should've considered experimenting with some structures and trying to add some progressive elements. With the sounds they're already capable of producing, I'm sure that Paradise Lost would be able to create a monster of a gothic rock album. Not this time though.

The release really don't have any major flaws, besides the fact that it is predictably structured. If you're a really big fan of Paradise Lost and like their more recent material, by all means you'll enjoy this. However, if you're looking for some quality doom metal, this is not the album to get. Even if you want to hear Paradise Lost do their gothic rock, I do recommend "Draconian Times" instead of this. Summed up, this album is disappointing, but not terrible.