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The inbetweener - 77%

colin040, July 30th, 2019

Out of Paradise Lost’s first five albums I can’t help but think that Shades of God is still one of the band’s most overlooked albums and it’s easy to see why – arguably the band’s most pure doom-like effort and with some unorthodox song structures explored, this one might as well be one the strangest effort of these guys.

One could argue Paradise Lost weren’t the only one aiming for this kind of style at the time. Just one year earlier, Cathedral crafted a mixture of eerie disgust and doom-y heaviness while Tiamat’s Clouds isn’t far off the spectrum either. Shades of God appears more energetic than the former and vocally superior to the latter; Nick Holmes still growls here, sounding less deeper and while it’s easy to see where his voice would lead to in the not so distant future, the Hetfield-esque touches to his voice were still out of sight at this point.

It’s no surprise Shades of God came out between Gothic and Icon, yet this album resembles neither – there’s more doom than gloom here; swinging grooves recall Sabbath and Trouble more so than anything. Opener ‘’Mortals Watch the Day’’ tells it all; a main riff that recalls a bulldozer demolishing everything in its path, as if the gothic rock-meets-early-Celtic Frost-approach on Gothic never happened. Greg Macintosh has traded his trademark style for wah-wah noises; resulting in a lot more ‘’cool’’ shredding passages than subtle eeriness. The aura of dread and misery of the previous albums isn’t much present here.

As expected, Shades of God has a big flaw that’s is pretty obvious; at times Paradise Lost get a little too much out of their comfort zone by stretching out songs to an unrealistic length. Now Greg Macintosh is one hell of a guitarist, but he’s not always there to fill the void with enough riffs. Something like ‘’Your Hand in Mine’’ starts off interesting with Holmes’ cleaner croons paving the way of the track, but it’s not until the third (!) minute mark that an actual riff kicks in. I also dislike ''Pity the Sadness'', which on paper should be a cool song as it's more Trouble than anything else, but its execution appears to be rather bland.

Fortunately the good outweighs the bad and the highlights are some of the band's most interesting pieces of work. ‘’Daylight Torn’’ was the band’s longest track until ‘’Fearless Sky’’ appeared and it’s quite progressive, yet epic. Greg and Aaron lay down their most massive riffwork down and Holmes gruff cries halfway through show the band at their most sentimental here before things speed up again. Other highlights include the The massive groove-fest of ‘’No Forgiveness’’ and the riff-monster that is ‘’The Word Made Flesh’’. The latter might as well be the second best track on here; as if the band embraces their inner Sabbath and lay down earth-shaking riff after riff before reaching that incredible climax where Greg shreds as if there’s no tomorrow. I’d like to believe the band smoked more weed than they drank when they recorded this album. Is that even possible for the average English bloke? You’ll just have to excuse my imagination and ignorance on that one.

Basically the third best album of Paradise Lost out of their early period, you can safely check out Shades of God. Its best moments are surely some of the most fun moments you’ll ever have with this band and that itself is quite an achievement.

Groovin' n' Gloomin' - 90%

finbar, April 8th, 2018
Written based on this version: 1992, CD, Music for Nations

A year after the release of Gothic, Paradise Lost released this peculiar album which not only showcased the band's improved musical abilities and a more polished production, but also marked a significant stylistic departure from their sophomore effort. Whereas Gothic utilized female vocals and orchestral sections to create it's unique atmosphere, Shades of God is driven first and foremost by multitudes of grinding, doomy riffs and Gregor Mackintosh's sorrowful leads. The album is mostly comprised of multi-sectional songs with crawling riffs, moody passages and lengthy guitar solos with one glaring exception in the form of album closer As I Die, a more straightforward track that has the feel of a gothic rock song with crunchier rhythm guitars and harsher vocals. The direct songwriting approach on the album finale proved to be a foreshadowing of the style displayed on many of the following PL albums.

When looking at the album highlights, one can't help but notice just how diverse this album is. It may not be an avantgarde release that goes from Balkan-inspired folk sections to blasting death metal with industrial overtones, but the variety of riffs, interludes, tempo changes, guitar solos and overall moods is quite astounding. Mortals Watch The Day remains one of PL's strongest songs to date, in large part due to Nick's strong vocal performance and the perfect flow from the up-tempo sections to the slower ones. The song also boasts an incredible chorus and very convincing wah-soaked lead guitar work. Daylight Torn and Your Hand In Mine are two tortured epic tracks that showcase the band's ability to create and perform a long track without losing focus or steam. The former even includes a tastefully-done acoustic guitar interlude that serves as a build-up to another wailing guitar solo. Pity The Sadness is an energetic and infectious live staple that spices things up by intertwining the vocal lines with the guitar leads in a way that gives the song an irresistible flow. The Word Made Flesh is a menacing groove monster that contains some strong Sabbath-styled riffing and the first and only appearance of a cowbell (YES!) in a PL song. There are a few weaker tracks such as Embraced and Crying For Eternity, both of whom are a bit forgettable and drag the album down after the incredible opener.

Shades Of God feels like an upward-mobile transitional effort. The band sounds tighter, the production values are much improved and there's an overall feeling of a hungry band looking to grow and create it's unique sonic signature (again). Although the album is dragged down a bit by two adjacent fillers and can be a bit overlong at times, it's quality is undeniable. A fascinating phase in PL's discography that continues to feel fresh with each listen.

Clever, not perfect - 85%

gasmask_colostomy, June 29th, 2015

This is a clever, clever album that all too often gets overshadowed by the underground and commercial behemoths that flank it on either side, namely 1991's 'Gothic' and 1993's 'Icon'. Those two albums bear more similarities to one another than to this one, the decrease in aggressive vocals on 'Icon' notwithstanding. For pure style, this is probably the PL album that I admire the most, edging itself into true doom while actually encompassing a wide range of other metal genres. 'Mortals Watch the Day', for example, is a fast song that bears more towards thrash and the bitterer end of NWOBHM than one might expect. You might have heard comparisons to Metallica's early 90s sound, but I can reassure you that's bullshit - PL were much more interesting and inventive. Perhaps the mid-pace and footstomping riffs are a reminder of 'The Black Album', but there's a lot more going on than that. Now that I've fucked up my introduction by saying six different things and explaining nothing, let's start fresh.

'Shades of God' is an album that does something quite special: it remains essentially unknowable many years after first listen. I thought the same about Opeth's 'Deliverance', which I cannot penetrate to this day, meaning that each time I listen to it, it unfolds itself anew and surprises me to some degree. Both that album and this one are intricate and progressive, though I would say that this album poses more problems for the casual listener, in which case it also rewards the ardent listener even more. The level of detail on the songs here remains stunning 23 years after the recording date. The production separates the instruments to a slight extent, meaning everything is easy to pick out, but you'll be listening to Gregor Mackintosh on lead guitar for at least half the time, and that's where things start to become hazy. Almost all the time, he's doing something new, either leading the band in a new direction or heading contrary to their movement; sometimes the rhythm guitar is the basis for the song, sometimes lead guitar, occasionally bass too; usually, one of those players is moving in different circles, like the rather exciting and dizzying bassline on 'Embraced' that underlies the hook heavy riffs and pulls you away in its undercurrent. The riff presence on this album is simply staggering and (I say this far too often about PL) can't be found anywhere else. The basic riffs are rooted in either doom or no shit heavy metal, yet the level of subtlety and decoration that those basic riffs get is bizarre - go to Unorthodox's 'Balance of Power' or The Obsessed's 'Lunar Womb' to find its double in two doom power trios. Perhaps the riffs are best described as riff riffs and lick riffs, many of which are meshed together into baffling, catchy choruses and hooks, meaning that the guitars never grow easy or boring.

Does it surprise you to learn that this is nowhere near as focused as 'Icon'? The songs are much longer in the first place, plus there are extra pieces that perhaps don't need to be included (acoustic introductions, stand-alone riff ventures, and so on), so nothing is as compact and catchy as 'Embers Fire' or 'Widow', not even the relatively brief 'As I Die', which includes whispered voices, strings, and a chorus that isn't quite a chorus. However, does it surprise you to hear that I rate the performance of each band member very highly? This is an intensely creative album and the summary of 'As I Die' probably justifies that statement, even the more obvious single material doesn't follow conventional song structures, even if all of the songs do have repeating parts - they are just complicated parts or repeat unexpectedly. As I mentioned, the guitarists are on fire, and I would point to both of them, since Mackintosh's ear for melody was still adjusting from doom death, meaning that he plays those licks sometimes instead of harmonic parts, while Aaron Aedy certainly gets his best outing in PL colours, turning out a classic/stadium doom masterclass of slow-burners and dark foreboders. The solos don't quite have either the unearthly tone of 'Gothic' or the instantly recognisable idiosyncracies of 'Icon', but still slay in a more classic style. Stephen Edmondson does a great job with the bass and is a key part of almost every song, adding depth to both melodic and rhythmic spheres. The drumming goes a little awry, not in Matthew Archer's performance, but in the production, where the snare sounds plastic, like he's hitting the side of a wheelie bin with a shovel, although worse things have happened in PL's recording history (*ahem* 'Lost Paradise' *ahem*). Nick Holmes doesn't rule this album as one might expect, especially with all those Hetfield comparisons: in fact, he merely does alright, sounding only just vicious enough to back up the lyrics and sometimes struggling to make his presence felt.

Slightly disappointingly, the amazing style is undermined by merely decent songs, which don't all deliver on their innovative promise. A few of the longer ones (PL rarely, if ever, exceed 7 minutes on a full-length, and here four songs topple that target) lose their initiative and wallow a little, even if 'Crying for Eternity' has one of the coolest riffs of the bands career. The big numbers are probably the first and last songs, 'Mortals Watch the Day' providing a faster and more energetic take on the doomy recipe that stays perky and challenging for its duration, while 'As I Die' errs closer to actual gothic rock in its atmosphere. My preference goes to 'Pity the Sadness', which also raises the tempo past middle ground and swoops on an elongated melody that rushes the song so thoroughly that Holmes only manages to get in the word "Morning" (beautifully, one must admit) to stand for a chorus. Mackintosh steals that one completely and the hooky chorus riff of 'Embraced' is curiously joyful as well.

'Shades of God' isn't the best Paradise Lost album by a long shot, but it is one of the most interesting and rewarding of repeated listens. The depth of invention and time spent on each song unveils depths that the band have not since returned to, except a hint on the recent 'Medusa'. This is doom with a view; a great band being clever, not just good.

A chapter closes...another opens! - 83%

Cause of Death, April 30th, 2015
Written based on this version: 1992, CD, Music for Nations

It could be argued that Paradise Lost's "Shades of God" is a more "prim and proper" version of it's predecessor, 1991's "Gothic". For those who haven't been paying attention, "Gothic" is a death metal masterpiece that infuses elements of death-doom with female vocals, keyboards, and even a prominent goth rock influence on a couple tracks. Through it all, however, it was still a death metal record. Even it's most melodic and somber moments retained a semblance of grit and dirt that could be traced back to death metal. Things aren't so clear with that album's followup, though. This album was the end of Paradise Lost's death-doom trilogy, and by this point the band was already exhibiting a great deal of the style they would later perfect on "Icon", making "Shades of God" a decent, yet somewhat awkward transitional album.

This album features a much cleaner production job, as well as somewhat more 'concise' and to-the-point songwriting on most of the tracks. Though the album is still heavily riff driven, rarely do the riffs feel particularly death metal, instead leaning closer to a very catchy doom metal sound. Really, throughout the whole album, "Daylight Torn" is the only track that really stands out as sounding particularly death metal (which is convenient, as it's the album's greatest track) in the riffing department, as it contains quite a few riffs that are a bit too heavy and brutal for the doom genre. Of course, it wouldn't be entirely accurate to call the album "pure doom", as the album does retain a slight edge and sense of aggression and melodicism in some of it's riffs that would sound strange and out of place if Messiah Marcolin tried to sing over them. This isn't a bad thing, though. The riffs are extremely catchy and powerful, with "No Forgiveness" packing a pretty decent punch, and "The Word Made Flesh" featuring some very impressive, extremely dark doom metal riffs. Then you have the goth rock-tendencies of "As I Die", a wonderful little track that puts a nice little cap on the whole experience (the song could be seen as the successor to "Eternal" from "Gothic"), there's no wonder it's one of (if not the) most famous Paradise Lost songs.

The thing that bears a closest resemblance to death metal are the vocals of Nick Holmes. He growls for basically the entire length of the CD, stopping only to deliver some clean vocals at the beginning of "Your Hand in Mine" (another standout track, by the way, with a very catchy chorus to boot!). However, a closer listen will reveal that changes have begun to take shape even there. His growls are not quite as harsh and full-bodied as they were on the previous album, occasionally going as far as to deliver some of the forgotten "melodic growl" style that was used by some early death/doom vocalists, notably Darren White of Anathema, and was completely raped and butchered by the vocalist of Pyogenesis (with hilarious results I might add - "Fade AWAYEEEE!!!"). To be honest, the vocals are probably the album's weakest point. While far from "bad", it genuinely feels like something is missing lacking from them, and it would have sounded better if he had just done the style from the previous albums.

But, history explains that Nick was merely experimenting with different vocal techniques after having trouble with his voice on tour for the previous albums, as well as attempting to add something "more" to the songs without totally abandoning his roots, and when taking that into consideration the vocals aren't a problem, really. The thing is, while this is a great album, it feels a bit awkward to me, in some ways (particularly tracks like "Crying for Eternity" which - despite the killer opening, goes on for way too fucking long!). I love "Lost Paradise" and "Gothic" to absolute, eternal death (I am a dedicated listener of almost all old school death metal), but I also really love the gothic/doom sound that would follow on "Icon" and "Draconian Times", it really appeals to me. All four albums are masterpieces of their respective genres. This album is sort of sandwiched in between, containing elements from both eras, but not really capturing the essence of what made either of them so great. As I've said a couple times by now, it's a transitional album, and while it's definitely essential in the collection of anyone who considers himself a Paradise Lost fan, I'd encourage people interested in checking them out to delve into "Gothic" and "Icon" first.

Paradise Lost - Shades of God - 63%

EschatonOmega, March 15th, 2014

When it comes to PL albums, I always either take it or leave them. I’ve never been blown away by any of their material, but I’ve liked a few of their albums enough to be willing the shell out the hard earned crash to own a few of them. I mean their most recent three releases (“In Requiem”, “Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us”, “Tragic Idol”) where very solid albums and I enjoyed pretty thoroughly.
That being said, the vast majority of their discography usually teeters between, at best, pretty decent to, at worst, God awful, and while “Shades of God” is considered to be a fan favorite, I’ve always had a pretty middle of the road opinion on it. Don’t get me wrong, I actually do fairly enjoy this album, but it doesn’t measure up to hype at all and it suffers from a lot of faults that keep it from being memorable.

So for starters, let me address the sound that PL puts out. They are considered one of the pioneers of death/doom metal, with Anathema and My Dying Bride sharing that title, and with the band’s first two releases “Lost Paradise” and “Gothic” they embraced this style. It wasn’t until “Shades of God” that PL began their shift into the doom influenced brand of gothic metal that made its first real appearance on “Icon”. So here the death metal influence has been stripped down quite a bit and the gothic with the doom aspects tweaked to fit better with the gothic sound.

Instrumentally the album is much more aggressive and faster than the previous albums. And this brings me to something that I really love about this album and that is that the performance is excellent and it’s the musicianship that shines here. And it has a lot to do with this obvious passion from the members that is probably why I liked this album as much as I did, specifically with Gregor Mackintosh who delivers one mournful and epic riff after another. His performance is what sells the album for me, and the way he plays with Aaron Aedy is beautifully done.

Although when it does come to performance, it’s Nick Holmes who is the weakest link. His death growls on the death/doom era albums I always found mediocre and hard to listen to and it’s here, on this album, that he ditches that for the rougher James Hetfield-esque grunting that he would stick with. Although here it’s deeper and more like this throaty bark, and honestly it just sounds awkward. Sometimes he’ll break into a cleaner style of singing and in others he’ll go back into a more growl like style, but most of the time he does this throaty howl and as a whole, it not very pleasant and just sounds strained and uncomfortable. Out of the entire PL discography, this is Holmes’ worst performance, in my opinion.

Another problem that I have is that this album is a bit too long for its own good. It gets overbearing at times and a lot of the longer songs (which is most of the track list) go on too long and as a result the album just drags. I usually really like long songs, but these tracks just don’t do enough for it to work here. They’re somewhat banal and don’t differ enough, in style or atmosphere, to have these six-seven minute tracks without them getting a bit boring.

There are also no real stand out tracks. And this is my biggest complaint about the album, that being that it, in the end, is not very memorable. As I said, the performance is great and the album has a lot of very smart and good ideas. Yet somehow, even with all of its good ideas, none of the songs ever sat with me. Instead they all just fall flat with no real reason to remember the songs as a whole.

So in short, why is this album a mixed bag? Like I said, it has a lot of good musicianship and really great ideas and on that level, I enjoyed listening to this. But that was it. The ideas expressed on the various songs but the album as a whole and just how it was all put together didn’t have a lot to offer and came across as too drawn out and underwhelming. It’s not a bad album by any means but it doesn’t live up to the hype and this band has put out a lot better work in my opinion.

Shades of quality - 77%

Jophelerx, January 10th, 2014

Paradise Lost, if you're here and somehow don't know, were a member of the Peaceville three, the trio that is most often credited with starting death/doom. The first two albums from all three bands (Paradise Lost, Anathema, and My Dying Bride) are clearly some variant of death/doom, but after that they start to venture off into different directions. Anathema almost immediately went in an alt-rock direction, which is fine by me since their death/doom albums sucked just as much balls as their later releases. My Dying Bride went into a more mournful, symphonic doom direction, while Paradise Lost gradually began gravitating towards a lighter, less DM-influenced sound, but much more slowly than Anathema did. Really, Paradise Lost began doing this after the debut, not after 1991's Gothic. Lost Paradise was primarily DM with a strong helping of doom, then Gothic toned down the death metal a bit so both doom and death influences were roughly equal. It was definitely a departure from the debut, but not nearly as much as Shades of God was. Gothic still featured guttural growls from Holmes, a strong death metal influence, and the occasional female vocal, while Shades is an almost entirely different beast.

Here, Holmes gets rid of the guttural growling in favor of a gruff, manic bark with some deep, somber cleans at times as well. The death metal influence is dialed back to the point that I'd pretty much call this pure doom, with just the occasional death metal influence popping in. This was my introduction to the band, and I first heard the album after someone mentioned it was similar to Tiamat's Clouds, which I'd already been into. While there are several differences between the albums, they're fundamentally quite similar; both feature doom with yelled vocals and some death metal influence; I'd say Clouds has a bit more of that last, but as I said, they're still pretty similar. What's interesting is that both were released at roughly the same time (Clouds was a month and a half later), so there's no way either one could have influenced the other. They're just two bands, both releasing their third album, both with debut albums primarily death metal and sophomore albums with a significant doom influence. The similarities are interesting, but apparently coincidental. Tiamat seemed to be abandoning their death metal roots more slowly, yet their very next album was extremely atmospheric, with a lot of non-metal influences, while Paradise Lost's next album would still be solidly in the metal camp. Tiamat seemed to have a sudden shift after Clouds, while Paradise Lost seemed to be going at roughly the same rate towards a lighter sound.

Anyway, to the music itself. Holmes' delivery here isn't a whole lot like any of his contemporaries that I can think of - or even many vocalists who came after. His style is fairly unusual, especially for this style of music, with a deep, bellowing yell that resembles a bark but never becomes a growl. Death/doom tends to utilize gutturals more often than not, with occasional cleans, while traditional doom is usually cleans, and gothic metal is usually either "beauty and the beast" style, or one of the two by themselves (sweet ethereal female vocals or male gutturals). The closest thing I can think of is Peter Steele's yells in Type O Negative and Johan Edlund's on Tiamat's Clouds and Wildhoney.

The songwriting is a mournful, rocking brand of doom that's probably closest to traditional doom but doesn't really sound that similar; the death metal and goth rock influences and the harsh yells distinguish it pretty easily, as does the guitar style. Dual leads come together to make things sound even more crushingly depressing, a style that would later be used in funeral doom pretty regularly. I guess I could almost call this a combination of funeral doom and goth rock, even though the former didn't officially exist as of the time of this release. The extremely gloomy, hopeless and crushing style of doom combined with catchy, rocking riffs and (somewhat) accessible vocals make for an interesting juxtaposition that I quite like for the most part. The songwriting isn't extremely consistent, but given the groundbreaking nature of the release, that's not surprising. "As I Die" is a pretty banal goth rock-y track, while "Crying For Eternity" and "No Forgiveness" are bloated funeral doom-ish tunes of the extra-boring variety.

When the influences come together, though, the album really shines; "Mortals Watch the Day" combines aggressive death metal-ish verse riffs with a doomy chorus and solo, topped by some unusual, rock-y leads that sound like they could have come from Gothic, and Holmes' unforgettable performance. "Daylight Torn" and "Pity the Sadness" do a similarly great job of turning the churning cauldron of varied influences into cohesive masterpieces, while "Your Hand in Mine" leans more on the doom aspects of the album and "The Word Made Flesh" seems a little more death influenced than the other songs. Both are good, but not as excellent nor as seamless as the three aforementioned tracks. While, overall, I'm not sure what I think of the band's decision to great progressively less "extreme", I definitely like some of what came of it along the way, particularly this album and its follow-up, Icon. This amalgamation of traditional doom, goth rock, death metal, and other even more subtle influences (I hear some thrash here and there, and who knows where he decided on his vocal performance) was completely unique for the time, and, for the most part, still is. If this sound intrigues you or you're a fan of one or more of the styles involved, definitely check this out.

Shades of perfection - 92%

differer, May 27th, 2009

In the event that a band drastically change their musical style over the course of their career, it is very likely indeed that one of their albums will in retrospect be thought of as the one that best encompasses this transition. We all should know how constant and fast the change was for Paradise Lost – it is precisely because of this, that ‘Shades of God’ is far from being a clear “transition album”. It has remarkably few obvious similarities with either its predecessor ‘Gothic’ or the follow-up ‘Icon’. The style and quality found here are nowhere to be heard on any of the band’s other works; this is an outstanding release.

On ‘Gothic’, the band had adopted an unusually strict distinction between rhythm and lead guitars as opposed to the debut, which focused more on two-guitar harmony lines and unison riffage. The style had, however, not yet had the time to fully develop, and was kept simple – possibly in order to keep things “under control”, so to speak. Here, the two guitars work together to weave patterns of melody and heaviness that are close to perfect; one could say that they had now learned how to utilize the lead guitar to its full potential. As a result, the songs have grown longer, more epic in nature, so that the riffs and melodies now have a chance to build deeper, more varied atmospheres. The guitar parts are simply better this time around, giving the listener plenty of things to follow and notice on repeated listens, which makes this album a definite grower when compared to the instant accessibility of ‘Gothic’. In particular, the guitar solos have turned into a key element; lengthy, melodic and relatively simple, they sound much like a second vocalist, really. And the songs have not only grown in duration, their structures have become original and unpredictable – some might say patchy, as a negative comment, but I would rather call them more interesting than before. Other things have changed, too: the female vocals that helped define gothic metal are now almost entirely gone, only appearing on ‘As I Die’; Holmes’ deep growl has become a “cleaner”, higher yell that, while not as powerful as before, sounds anguished and sad, fitting the music very well indeed.

There are no stand-out tracks on the album at all. Instead, there are stand-out parts of tracks, thanks to the creative songwriting. These include the soft acoustic guitar on ‘Daylight Torn’, the lead melody underneath the vocals in the chorus of ‘Pity the Sadness’, the unexpected triplet feel of ‘Mortals Watch the Day’, as well as countless others. Granted, ‘As I Die’ IS the obvious hit single, but even so is not any better than the other songs – in fact, I would name it the album’s weakest moment. To be quite honest, I have some serious problems thinking of these tracks as “songs” in the normal sense of the word. This as an extraordinary release, because the individual song parts (movements, one could say) are by far more important than any of the full songs. Most people would find this strange and unfitting – after all, we are talking about “popular music” of some sort – but to my ears at least, the entire idea of “songs” disappears more or less completely with this album. Even though there are verses and choruses, intros and bridges like anywhere else, they are not something you need to expect; the music is great, therefore the structure becomes meaningless.

Only very few things on ‘Shades of God’ make me raise my eyebrows. These are tiny details, of the kind that make you feel uneasy for a second or two but are soon forgotten. There is the case of unison guitars that, on occasion, play an astoundingly simple riff – from a musician’s point of view, this is strange. It’s almost like there shouldn’t be a second guitarist. Maybe (lead guitarist / songwriter) Mackintosh wipes the sweat off his forehead and takes a sip of water during these parts when performing live? What a clever man, in that case. At times, it is also a little too obvious that the music has been written by a guitarist. The solos, while of superb quality in general, can feel overdone in the sense that some of them are too long for their actual content, starting to feel like pointless noodling. My main complaint, however, is the drummer. Matthew Archer never was a “real” drummer – and he has said so himself. He’s struggling to keep up with the others, when of course it should be the drums that set the pace. It’s a literal wonder how he can pull off the up-beat parts of ‘Pity the Sadness’, for example – and even those don’t verge beyond common heavy rock in terms of speed. The beats sound lazy, giving the impression that he’s restraining the band rather than working with the other members. Having said that, it must be pointed out that I didn’t notice any of it before becoming a musician myself – I suppose that a “normal” listener should have no strong objections.

As far as I’m concerned, Paradise Lost went all downhill after this album. ‘Icon’ still had its moments, but the magic just wasn’t there anymore – to me, that one was a huge letdown back in the day. Their more recent output does not even deserve a mention. On ‘Shades of God’, they were at their creative peak – not bothering with common standards and making music that has aged astonishingly well, if at all. I find it very strange that this style has apparently not inspired too many imitators. Perhaps it’s because there is no imaginable way to do it better, so why even try. In short, this is one of the best metal albums ever, and if you’re not familiar with it by now, you should be ashamed.

Good but lacking something... - 99%

grimdoom, July 28th, 2008

Paradise Lost have never been strangers change and this album is another fine example of this. This is an intense listen that shows band shifting gears once again refining their style and furthering their already original sound.

This is an awkward release that depending on ones mood is either brilliant or boring. This was the departure album featuring their best production to date yet lessoning the more deathly vocals. This also has the most solos and diverse song writing and is arguably the bands Doomiest release too.

The guitars are tight and heavy. This is the bands crunchiest offering to date. The leads are haunting and mesmerizing while the solos are soaring and epic. There is a mix of shred and more laid back Rock in the solos. The guitar playing is also a step up from 'Gothic' and the songs more thought out. The guitars are also tuned to 'D' from here through 'Draconian Times'.

The bass follows the guitars but adds bits of flare here and there. The drums are more or less standard for the band/style. The band sound as is if they were finding themselves musically on this recording. The chord structures and patterns are original and different. There is a dark somewhat groove oriented feel to many of the songs. The vocals are perhaps Nick's best as they are more natural and flow well with the songs. There is a greater diversity between mid and high unlike on the prior records.

This is the definition of a "need to be in the mood" release. Unlike the bands other releases this one isn't one you can simply just pop in your CD player and rock out too. This album gave us some of the bands best songs in 'Mortals Watch the Day', 'Pity the Sadness' and 'When I die'. This is recommended to fans and Doomsters above all else.

The best Paradise Lost offering - 88%

CannibalCorpse, June 9th, 2006

Paradise Lost really got their act together for once. Surprisingly, "Shades of God" is considered to be the album "inbetween two masterpieces" and largely ignored. I don't see why. It's the perfect transition of 65% "Gothic", 15% "Icon" and 20% Thrash Metal. Yes, there are quite a few thrash riffs on here and they actually fit VERY well.

"Shades of God" has many of Gregor Mackintosh's trademark melodic lead guitar riffing, but there's also some less-melodic and more aggressive lead attack here, rather unusual for Gregor's style. Again, they fit surprisingly well.

Even though there are SOME hints of their future sound on "Icon" in here, most of the compositions displayed on "Shades of God" are of a very aggressive and raw nature. The mentioned hint sof their future sound are only audible in Nick's vocal style, which isn't guttural or even very deep anymore. I guess it would also fit to a nice thrash metal band. Also, in terms of atmosphere and feeling, this album is also superior to any other Paradise Lost release.

The album was mostly not too well-received and I still can't see why. I don't see huge experimentation processes going on. Sure, it is different to "Gothic" but it definitely has it's trademarks and foundations. There's just one song which sounds rather different in parts and that one is "As I Die". It's a bit softer than the rest, has more clean vocal usage as well as short whispered verses. Another slight hint to their future style. No surprise, it's also the most well known song from this album.

As I already mentioned in my "Gothic" review, I don't think that Paradise Lost has ever released a masterpiece, but "Shades of God" comes very close. It has consistent, memorable songs, some of the best leads and for once, the rhythm guitars are not "just there", they are fully developed and add a lot to the album.

I recommend "Shades of God" to any fan of the Doom metal genre. It's my favourite Paradise Lost album and maybe one of you will finally agree with me.

Highlights: Mortals Watch the Day, Daylight Torn, No Forgiveness, Pity the Sadness

Good overlooked album but not one of their best... - 80%

WitheringToSerenity, April 3rd, 2004

Shades of God can be best described as the crossover album between the doom/death oriented Gothic and the heavy/doom metal oriented Icon without the harsh vocals. Therefore combining heavier/almost thrash metal aspects at times with a small amount of their older death elements. Make no mistake that is not an extreme album though. This is a transition creates a merging of different sounds with Nick Holmes experimenting with cleaner vocal approaches and the music taking melodic turns you would have never seen coming from Gothic while still retaining its potent heavy edge from Gothic. Gregor's leads are still great but this album lacks what other Paradise Lost metal albums have offered. Perhaps it is the contrast and added experimentation. Still great and too often overlooked Paradise Lost here.

This album has the potential of alienating lots of fans because it maintains that harsh edge of Gothic and more accessible qualities of Icon at times but is a shame because this music could appeal to a variety of different fans of metal. The production on this album is not that great either, which is a bit worse with Shades of God because this album doesn't have enough standout songs to make up for poorer production like Gothic. That is the main reason for the lower rating is that there is a lack of excellent material. Mostly just solid Paradise Lost. Not the first Paradise Lost album I'd recommend, but to any metal fan interested in hearing solid metal music, this album shouldn't disappoint!

Favorites: Mortals Watch The Day, Pity The Sadness, As I Die

rather unexpectedly, this rocks - 70%

Abominatrix, March 19th, 2004

I'm certainly not a very big fan of this band. Though their "Gothic" album is undeniably a very creative and masterful piece of work for its time, and the lead guitar is some of the best I've ever heard and perfect for doom (more doom bands need to have aching, sorrowful leads), nothing else Paradise Lost has ever done really moves me that much. "Shades of God" was the first album I obtained from the band, and indeed, was one of the first slightly underground metal albums I ever bought. I remember the day this came in (I had to order it) I was completely ill and alternately lying in bed and puking my guts out. I'd read plenty of reviews on the Internet, which wasn't exactly as over-abundant with information regarding metal bands as it is today (this was in 1996), that suggested that this record was full of sorrow, beautiful melody and passion. I'd heard My Dying Bride by then and I sort of imagined this would be something similar. Well, at the time I was extremely disappointed, and this only added to my miserable day. Because, you see, this is somewhat of an odd item in PL's mostly rather dubious catalogue.

This is honestly very close to traditional doom, and not remotely linked to death metal, with barely the slightest hint of gothic elements to be found. Gregor Macintosh's sublime, melancholic lead guitar that would be such a groundwork for bands like Katatonia to follow has, at this point, been replaced by bluesy, wah-wah soaked solos. There are loads of leads on this album, but they bare more resemblence to Black Sabbath or Trouble than anything else, and in 1996 I certainly wasn't ready for this. However, there is an abundance of great riffs to be found here, lots of nifty instrumental passages with a full-on sludgy groove, tempo changes and a pretty energetic feel. not all the songs here are plodding and slow, in fact, tracks like "Pity the Sadness" mostly just rock out, and the slower, more doomy numbers are usually tempered by faster breaks which one can definitely headbang to. Vocals are sort of nondescript..kind of a heavily reverbed shout that occasionally veers into both melodic and slightly growled territory, but they're nothing like the vocals on "Gothic" and more akin to the James Hetfield with constipation stuff on "Icon".

So why doesn't this album get a higher rating? Well, somehow Paradise Lost never really made their ways into the annals of trad doom, and the reason for this is that something just doesn't seem right or convincing about this. The riffs are there, the leads are there, the groove is there...yet some feeling is missing, and the album ends up dragging a bit toward the end. Finally there's the total weak point, the absolutely overrated pisser of a song "as I Die", which sounds like it could have been on "Icon" only it's not even as good as most of the songs on that album. It's the only track which really brings to mind some of the band's embracing of more gothic stylings later on, and it sounds a bit like a failed experiment. Still, songs like "Daylight Torn" (probably my favourite), "Pity the Sadness" and "Mortals Watch the Day", along with most of the first 3/4 of the album, are really worth something if you appreciate the traditional doom bands. Fans of Cathedral should really check this out as there are definitely a lot of similarities to that other (and far superior) British band.