The Originators of Death /doom metal or The Gods of Gothic metal?
Some of the names given at times to this band…Let see what hides beyond their name and the credits given to them…
Formed back in 1988 at Halifax/ West Yorkshire, England by Gregory Mackintosh (lead guitars), Aaron Aedy (rhythm guitars), Mathew Archer (drums) and Nick Holmes (bass/vocals). After just a few rehearsals, they realized Nick should concentrate only on vocals and Steven Edmondson joined them to handle the bass, without even knowing if he could play at all. It was the time of a weird music genre evolution. Many bands, that tried to pull the limits of extreme music, combined fast speed tempo songs with extreme guitar themes and grunting vocals-it was later defined as grind death metal- and Paradise Lost stated out as one band of this genre.
After a few thoughts though, and being influenced both by the fast extreme music (Kreator, Celtic Frost, Morbid Angel, Death, Autopsy) and the slow extreme music music (with bands such as Candlemass, Trouble etc.) that had been going on at that time, they started to write their songs using slow tempos but with the intensity of death metal guitar themes and grunting vocals. It was really something never heard before at that time.
Trying to achieve recognition and a record deal, they record two demo tapes “Paradise Lost” demo and “Frozen Illusion” demo and despite the really bad sound and performance recorded at both demos, the songs convinced some people and the band finally made a record deal with Peaceville Records.
Recorded at The Academy and released by Peaceville / Vile Music in 1990 “Lost Paradise” was probably the first record of doom death metal. Slow tempos , grunting vocals, a few fast death metal breaks, obscure lyrics and muddy “Celtic Frost” mood, all mixed up to show the path to many bands later on. Sounding rather bad, was something the band even now makes fun of.
The big word was not yet told though… and just one year later, the band decided to take a big step. With full confidence, and their urge to give the audience something that hadn’t been heard before, Paradise Lost change their composition style and eventually their music, into a rather simpler style than the Doom Death metal of “Lost Paradise” , but also as innovating as their debute.
Recorded once again at The Academy studio and released in 1991 by Peaceville/ Vile Music “Gothic” was about to shake all current waves in extreme music, with its sound being so original and far ahead of its time…
Keeping their sound at a mid tempo standard, Paradise Lost use on “Gothic” their roots of death metal attitude, enriched with the exceptional use of string arrangements, performed by the “The Raptured Symphony Orchestra” and some female vocals at several points in the album, performed by Sarah Marrion. And it was not only these, that made the album unique and innovative, it was also the fact that Gregory Mackintosh -as being the main music composer- let himself loose, to show his other main influences, from bands of the gothic movement of ‘80s. Bands like Sisters of mercy, Fields of the Nephilim, Bauhaus etc. were filtered through the death metal riffing, the grunting vocals/ lyrics and the low tuned distorted guitars and mixed down to an album, refreshing the sound of metal music in general.
Die-hard death metal fans, would put it to fire thus guitar melodies started to appear, melodic guitar solos and bridges also appeared. Finally, for the first time some deep down “gothic” style vocals appeared on a metal album. Paradise Lost really pulled the limits of extreme music on this release. A thing that afterwards was to happen many times, and almost at their every release that followed… “Gothic” was though, the most monumental of all their innovations, because it opened the minds and the boarders for many musicians and bands. It can be easily said that “Gothic” really gave birth to what people refer to as “gothic metal genre” although the recognition came years later…
Having released two different albums the band gained attention from big record labels and it was time for them to move on and sign a contract with Music For Nations. It is the year 1992 and “Shades of God” sees the light of day. Recorded at Longhome studios and released by Music For Nations.
Shades Of God:
“Shades Of God“ introduces yet another face of Paradise Lost. The mid tempos are here once again, but the song-writing approach has changed once again. A more sharp heavy doom metal style is introduced. Sabbath influenced riffs filtered through the prism of the “Gothic” album. The death metal tag almost disappears from the songs, and that’s mostly because, “Shades Of God” is the first album, Nick Holmes abandons death metal grunts and screams and starts using a somehow aggressive clean vocal approach. Guitar solos and the sound in general is well improved. It’s the first record of Paradise Lost, with a good sound quality, as long as the mix is considered.
With “Shades Of God”, Paradise Lost started gaining press attention and with the help of two videos, that were made for songs “Pity the Sadness” and the all time classic “As I Die”, the band got access to mainstream audience, and so their name was getting bigger day by day. Everything, once again, was changed and so did the previous logo, which does not appear on the cover work. Now all was set up for the first “big” record, which is no other than “Icon”, that comes next and opens a new era for the band…
So here they are once again. It’s 1993 and Paradise Lost release their fourth album “Icon”.. The first record with the new -classic- logo and the first with the “crown of thorns” scheme “Icon” really came to shake the seas of metal music industry…
Recorded at Jacobs Studios, Surrey with Simon Efemey as a producer, this album was bound to succeed. The style of the songs changes once more. Easy listening refrains, heavy riffs, strong orchestration and intense melodies construct a perfect background of pessimism which with the help of Holmes’ lyrics give flesh and bone to a new music genre that was about to evolve. Gothic Metal was born with this album here and if not so, you can find it here at it’s best…
Mid tempo in its entirety, the album has some of Paradise Lost’ s highlight songs, that guided and showed the way, to many bands that followed, on how Gothic Metal should sound like. ”Embers Fire”, “True Belief”, “Widow”, “Dying Freedom”, “Weeping Words” and “Christendom” are here in this album.
The sound of the album also contributes to the outcome and the feeling the compositions themselves. The production and the sound fits so much the songs and the collaboration with Simon Efemey surely gave Paradise Lost their sound and recognition they deserved. Having three new videos coming out for this album, for songs “Embers Fire”, ”Widow”, “True Belief”, and with even more presence to the music television Paradise Lost really start to stand out as “The New Metallica”, as the universal press of that time called them way back then. More was yet to come, but this album established an identity and recognition, which surely introduced us to the Paradise Lost sound. This sound went on, for albums that followed. Went out and returned and so it did to their next one.. their magnum opus “Draconian Times”.
Two years after the release of “Icon”, their strongest record till then, Paradise Lost release “draconian times” on June 12, 1995. Recorded at the Great Linford Manor and Ridge Farm Studios, England. The band makes its strongest effort to date and everything here really reaches pick. With their first line up change after years drummer Matt Archer is replaced by Lee Morris and the band rolls as a big hit single production machine. It’s the first time, and probably the last, that the credits of the songwriting go out for everyone in the band and not only Mackintosh/Holmes.
Every song on this record could be described more than everlasting. There are few records that once you start listening to you can’t stop them in the middle. One of these records is “draconian times”. A record full of great songs, great atmosphere, proper mood and proper lyrics that not only exist as lines, but contribute to music as well. “Draconian times” wouldn’t have that sense, if not for the lyrics as much as for the perfect pieces of music, that combined gave this awesome outcome.
Another helping hand given by the artwork that was used perfectly matching the mood and the atmosphere of the songs. As for the sound here Paradise Lost gave us another point of how important is for a record to sound clear and with good production in order to achieve its goal. Talking about “draconian times” one can say that it’s amongst the ten strongest and most influential releases of the ‘90s…Truly a masterpiece and their ultimate release.
Following a quite same path on “Icon” and “draconian times” and reaching pick on touring and sales it was time for rearrangements and changes. On July 14, 1997 “One Second” is on stores. Considered as the follow up of their previous successful and monumental releases, Paradise Lost decide to change directions and introduce new elements to their music. Loops and electronic sounds are taking a vast place in the overall sound of the band. Also, on this record, we can hear Nick Holmes actually singing with his deep voice, in melodic paths exclusively. No growls not even his characteristic Nick Holmes vocal anger. Also, not guitar oriented songs, simple drum patterns and quite simple songs, almost without guitar solos and not even sounding as heavy as in the past. Just beautiful melodic and pleasant refrains with some pop glimpse, in simple song structures and sometimes some major melodies, that really confused their fans, at that time and actually divided them.
In accordance with this vast change on sound, Paradise Lost change their looks as well. Having short haircut for the first time, the world faces a new dilemma. Have Paradise Lost been sold out to the record companies wills? Or is this just another way of expression by the same people? The answer came with their next release… The controversial “Host”…
Released two years later on May 21, 1999 Paradise Lost this tame take their most outstanding and bizarre change on sound throughout their entire carrier to date.
“Host” is a record based on electronic drum loops without guitars at all, but only on electronic sounds and synth bass lines…And of course beautiful confusing melodic lines sang by Nick Holmes’ alter ego -his sensitive melodic voice- …If “One Second” gave a big strike on everyone’s stomach “Host” really knocked out everyone that hoped for a fast recovery back to the old sound.
A big bet, I think, the band gave to themselves, in terms of how far they can go. Confusing everyone, the band that once was admired for its chameleon character and changing on every record, now has made everyone change their minds about how open minded to changes a band can be. A bad release not welcome by the press not the fans at all… But where they able to find their way back on track? Their next step tried to help a bit, but as the title claims “Believe in nothing”…Until you hear it…
Believe In Nothing:
Released on 26 February 2001 “Believe In Nothing” is a return into a more rock approach of song writing. Rhythmic guitars in a pop sense played with heavy Lost style. Really a short of return but as the band claimed even back then. The outcome was mixed without their presence. Although the songwriting has nothing to do with the band’s presence in the mixing room. The songs in here, try to be a bit more into the point, but once more as it seems it’s been a band period for the band. Also the drums mixed with drum loops returned but in the overall “Believe In Nothing” does not take any steps forward not even backwards.
Hopefully for everyone a much better release was to follow and stop the constant falling of a myth.
Symbol Of Life:
Here is the first real attempt of Paradise Lost doing something that would have the approval of press and fans and radio…
Going on as if nothing can stop them Paradise Lost take their next step with “symbol of life” on 12 November 2002. Strong heavy production, a familiar mood in the likes of the past combined with all the elements that went into their sound the period from 1997 to 2001. Keeping their minds to a quite pop aesthetic, Paradise Lost start to gain attention to their name with this release, seeming as a phoenix rising back from its ashes. The guitars are back with a modern sound and the songwriting as well could be said to follow some modern version of what the band had in mind years ago. A very nice release after many years of controversy and style changes that led into nothing.. Believe it or not!!!! A big break was to follow though…Until the next step.
The release of this album was a big bet for everyone. Recorded at Chapel Studios, Lincolnshire and Hollypark Lane, Los Angeles and released 3 years later on March 17, 2005. The band’s self titled record came to shake everyone’s minds once again…Simply called “Paradise Lost” this is a big return to a music field where we had forgotten Paradise Lost actually invented…and that is Gothic Metal!
Yes, this is the bands return to heavy songwriting and pure Paradise Lost mood…The solos return after many years. The songwriting is once again aggressive as does the sound and the drummer’s place is once again changed. Jeff singer takes Lee Morris’ place on drum kit after ten years. Double bass drums and aggressive Nick Holmes is back. An aggressive artwork is back to fit the songs and as with “One Second” the bands leaders Holmes/ Mackintosh decide to come back also in terms of looks having long hair again after 10 years. Not that the haircut is a sign of whatever though as the songs speak by themselves…Here we have the first hind and approval that this band really exists and has a lot to say to the years that are to come…
And here we are with their complete resurrection…Recorded at The Chapel Studios, London and Strait Sound Studios, Gibson, Vancouver and released on May 21, 2007 the shock is almost immediate from the first song…
“In Requiem” is the ultimate comeback to their past. Having nothing to do with the previous releases, this record seems as if it had to be released after the band’s magnum opus…”Draconian Times”…Heavy songwriting, heavy guitars, heavy fast lead guitar solos, strong Metal production and guess what? Nick Holmes reminds himself he can be aggressive as hell….And he does this throughout the entire album…Pure Paradise Lost mood that brought them back to the metal audiences that wanted a sincere and conscious return to what they’ve been loved for…They vast and grand music intelligence of pure Gothic Metal played by its inventors back at its best!!! But are they to follow their own come back forever?
Faith Devides Us, Death Unites Us:
Latest release “Faith divides us, Death unites Us” proves that they surely are into this great return and even further trying to pull their own limits once again. Giving place to new structures and keeping the gloomy sound scapes going on, this release of September 2009 has not been tasted by time…The use of 7-strings guitars gave them an even more heavy sound, as so did the songwriting, reminding everyone an even more “back to the roots” record. Nick’s growls are somehow reappearing to this release even more angry and passionate. Although the difficult song structures not containing obvious refrains or not even being easy listening, puts them back to test…Time will really tell once again…
None knows what’s to come with this extraordinary band from Halifax!
Though they had made some awkward steps in the past, they never really disappointed anyone for real…So, we’ll let ourselves loose, to see what are they up to now and we’ll keep listening to what they’re offering, cause they do it better than anyone!!!