Who could ever possibly know that when Peaceville was signing Paradise Lost back in the early nineties, one of the biggest icons in metal was born? Twenty five years later, time finds the band strong, artistic and still rocking, seeking to maintain their legacy. In 13th of September, the band visits our country for two performances. This tribute was made by a hardcore-Paradise Lost fan for all those who fancy the genre and Paradise Lost in whatever point of their career.
Tear me down and break me, I remain
[page_title text=”Chapter One: The Englishmen who rocked”]
Paradise Lost’s story starts in Halifax, England, where five guys came together to create music. Their love for death metal and Celtic Frost orientated their sound into the specific music genre, at least in the very beginning. Paradise Lost was formed in 1988 by Nick Holmes (vocals), Greg Machintosh (guitars), Aaron Aedy (guitars), Stephen Edmondson (bass) and Matthew Archer (drums). The band’s name is a reference to Paradise Lost, the famous poem by John Milton.
The band was one of the first bands drafted by Peaceville records which became legendary in the future. With a demo in their pockets, Paradise Lost signed with Peaceville and in 1989 they started the recording sections of’ Lost Paradise’, their debut record. Lost Paradise was released in January of 1990. The record featured the band’s first hit-songs, while it embraced a death metal style combined with some doom metal elements. Nick Holmes was using heavy death growls by that time and Greg Machintosh’ riffs are haunting and terrifying, just like a horror movies’ soundtrack.
‘Lost Paradise’ contained lyrics aiming society and especially religion, something quite exciting for the fans. Whoever got in touch with the record’s tracks, quickly managed to combine Paradise Lost with their unique sound. However, the band was not one hundred per cent satisfied with the outcome and their debut record. Always seeking the sound which would make them unique and influential, they turned their vision to gothic rock. Influenced by the specific genre as well as their heavy metal and death metal heroes, the band created gothic metal, through their next record, ‘Gothic’.
‘Gothic’ was released in March 1991. Since then, the band has never looked back again. The album was the first to get the attention of the media and the fans, because it was the first record in Europe and in the whole world generally, which combined gothic, death metal and doom metal all together in a unique music genre. Songs like ‘Gothic’, ‘Shattered’ and ‘Eternal’ were set to live eternally through the influence the band had on modern bands like Katatonia or bands like Moonspell. What was about to come next for the band was a dream come true for its members. Constant touring, many records and a lot of new fans were the future of Paradise Lost.
[page_title text=”Chapter Two: The Dark Years”]
By the year 1992 the band was ready to create another record. This time, the band chose a label bigger than Peachville Records and signed with Music for Nations. ‘Shades of God’ was born right after their latest recording sections under a new label and was released in July of 1992. The band’s sound and production was even greater than before, without many changes from their previous record, ‘Gothic’. Some songs may be more doom metal than before, however the band remained the same in this one, creating great songs like ‘ As I Die’, ‘ Pity The Sadness’, or ambient and slower ones like ‘Crying for Eternity’ and ‘ Mortals Watch The Day’.
When the record was released, Paradise Lost and especially Nick Holmes needed a change in their sounds, something that would make them take a giant step ahead, opening new possibilities and chances. Nick decided to change his vocal style and use clean vocals rather than death growls. ‘Icon’ is the record which was produced via this change in vocals. It came out in September of 1993. ‘Icon’ was a fresh record, a record which offered songs which would be memorable the passion and majesty included in them. Paradise Lost approached a mainstream metal sound, with an expensive production (always in comparison with their previous releases) and a lot of lead, gothic guitar melodies. ‘Icon’ was also the last record featuring Matthew Archer behind the drums. He was replaced with Lee Morris.
With a new drummer the band created the songs which would be included in ‘Draconian Times’, their best record so far (in my point of view). The band’s artistic vision has reached its peak. ‘Draconian Times’ does not include a filler song, not even one. Each song is a perfect one. The stories which are unfolding in the record create the magic door for someone to pass into a gothic, fantasy world, where myth and reality touch each other. The sound in the guitars is the one which alters the whole pace of the songs and their style or significance. Since ‘Icon’ we also notice even more melodies produced by keyboards, piano or organs in Paradise Lost’s records.
In 1995 the band closes a chapter in their career, the chapter of darkness and their artistic peak, which was never reached again although they continued to compose excellent records.
[page_title text=”Chapter three: The Synth within the beast”]
Paradise Lost shocked everyone with their ‘One Second’, released in 1997. The band seemed to get into electronic music for good. Influenced by the UK synth-pop music, the band uses keyboards, synths and a great number of digitalized instruments for their music. Nick Holmes vocals now seem to have nothing to do with the past death growls, while his singing style tends be clean and melodic.
The band has not whipped out their metal style yet. They kept the lousy, distorted guitars in their music. However, the years of the dark and heavy records seemed to be gone forever. The decision the band has made, did not get appreciated by the hardcore metal fans that turned their backs on the band. However, Paradise Lost gained a few fans of electronic and experimental metal music, who loved the change and the fact that the band kept all the gothic elements and yet changed into something more mainstream.
Two years after, the band’s image has been different too. The long hair got cut and the black, gothic clothes the band always wore to promote their records and during their stage performances was something belonging to the past. ‘Host’ was released in May of 1999 and offered many hit-songs and radio-friendly ones. For the very first time the band signed
with EMI music, a label even bigger from their previous one. The record immediately became popular in the UK, with the band’s new style to find supporters in radio and in popular magazines, rather than in the underground. Greg Machintosh stated that ‘Host’ is a product of freedom. The band’s members just felt free to compose whatever they were imagining. The guitarist wanted the record to be a bit more of an avant-garde one, but it seems he is still satisfied with the outcome.
Right after ‘Host’ the band lost control. Personal issues and the lack of inspiration forced the band to create a record which is rather declined by Paradise Lost right now. The record’s title was ‘Believe in Nothing’ and it is probably a title which represented the band’s emotional phase during the recording’s sections. Greg Machintosh and Nick Holmes talked about the record’s position into the Paradise Lost history for years. The two members agreed that ‘Believe in Nothing’ was something extraordinary and meditating in 2001 and the following years. Now, they feel more confident in the music they create and as a result they declined the record’s importance in the band’s career.
Still captured by experimental mood and influenced by the whole music scene of the 00’s, the band turns around to create a record heavier than their previous two, but still experimental. The specific record was released by GUN records this time and was the record which rescued the band from the mediocrity that characterized ‘Believe in Nothing’. Heavier guitars but a lot of piano and keyboard parts were mixed together for ‘Symbol of Life’, which was released one year after ‘Believe in Nothing’ and became the band’s remedy, regaining their old scene back.
[page_title text=”Chapter Four: Roots are never abolished”]
In 2004 the band’s time to return to their metal roots has finally come. However, the band released another experimental record, a self-titled one. They also changed the drummer in 2004, with Jeff Singer becoming their third drummer. Craving a darker sound, a real-gothic one, a third era for the band was created and ‘Paradise Lost’ was the beginning of it.
The new record was the last one to be released under GUN records, before jumping into Century Media’s wagon. The music in the record is dark, primitive, sad, depressing but remedial too. Greg Machintosh has once told Decibel magazine that the guitar solo in ‘Over The Madness’ made him fall in love with his guitar once more. The difference in band’s passion is now visible through songs like ‘Forever After’, ‘Sun Fading’ or ‘Don’t Belong’.
The real change came two years after, when ‘In Requiem’ was released in May of 2007. During the specific record, the band became sick of the synth-pop influence into their music and returned into their metal sound. Nick Holmes did not return into his death-growls era yet, but his vocals were slightly harsher in the songs of ‘In Requiem’. In my opinion, the specific record is not as great as everyone believes, because I believe the return of the band in heavy sound was a ‘dizzy’ return. ‘In Requiem’ is a record with many filler songs, but many great ones too. I tend to believe that around five years passed for the band to find its true identity in the metal genre again, without trying to disprove ‘In Requiem’s and ‘Faith’s significance and importance for Paradise Lost.
After constant touring for the promotion of ‘In Requiem’, the band hit the studio again for the recordings of ‘Faith Divides Us- Death Reunites Us’. The specific record was as dark and sentimental as ‘Paradise Lost’, but a lot heavier. The lyrics were aiming faith and religion once more, along with many humanitarian matters. The songs included in the record are an excellent try to accomplish something so bright but depressing in the same time. In my opinion, the sound in the record could be better and the production as well. While the years are passing, I tend to believe that ‘Faith Divides Us-Death Reunites Us’ is the most mature record ever created by Paradise Lost. Adrian Erlandsson replaced Jeff Singer in the drummer’s position as well.
[page_title text=”Chapter Five: The band’s present”]
Paradise Lost remained one of the most important groups of our time. Since the 90’s, the guys became part of an immortal scene, offering recordings which will remain classic in the future. Someone could say that a band does not last so long in time, but Paradise Lost, right after 25 years of existence, released one of the greatest records in their career, ‘Tragic Idol’.
‘Tragic Idol’ sounds so fresh and innovative in my ears, just like records like ‘Icon’. The band is in better shape that ever (well, at least in studio) and their imagination just keeps giving birth to haunting songs, marvelous ones. Machintosh melodic touches were extremely inspired in this one and the record generally had a unique identity. The band is young again, inflamed under ‘Draconian Times’ youth. Vallenfyre, the side project of Greg Machintosh seems to have placed him in the (artistic) line again and the band created masterpieces. The production is much better than their previous record too, something quite positive.
Now, Paradise Lost is ready to release another record and is currently touring in Europe. 13th of September will be the date where Athens will have the chance to watch Paradise Lost on stage once more. The legend continues to live after all those years and is still in a creative and spiritual form, just like many years before. For those who will have the chance to watch in 13th of September the band live and for all the Paradise Lost fans worldwide, I close this tribute with some of my favorite lyrics, written under the band’s quill: