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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.