Paradise Lost – S/T
18/04/2005 § Leave a comment
Artist: Paradise Lost
Album: Paradise Lost
Genre: Gothic Metal
I think I need to reconfigure my brain. It has become, since the days when every thought process sped by with indiscriminate warp-like velocity, more like rolling stock than a well-oiled machine, cogs gooed up by the viscid thatch of mainstream metal media. Paradise Lost were responsible for my indoctrination into the metal scene and things have, indeed, moved with the times since the early 90s. However, there are those that grudgingly edge their way into subtle evolution and there are those that unrelentingly move fluidlike with new demands and scenes, and Paradise Lost certainly seem to be the latter. I don’t know what happened after One Second. I was initially a little relieved to find a different, chunkier sound from Paradise Lost when it was released, but I did not expect, several years on, for their self-titled work to sound almost like the same album. Therefore maybe I do need to re-jig my thought processes and lower my expectations in order to fully accept and grasp the ‘masterpiece’ that many consider their new work to be.
But it’s not altogether fair to expect things to stay the way they’ve always been. Back in the 90s PL were hailed as creating the whole Gothic Metal genre, and they have been revered the world over [or at least all Europe over] for such ever since. Therefore it’s terrible to see such entrepreneurs produce, yet again, another album of such hideously homogeneous dimensions that it becomes almost impossible, after repeated listens, to distinguish one song from the next. I am also lost as to why this is a self-titled album. How are we supposed to read this? Is it lack of originality, lack of imagination, or is it more of a period, a full-stop, heralding the end of a long line of albums and maybe, unbeknownst to the rest of us, PL have a self-destruct button wedged somewhere up their sleeves and it won’t be too long before they push it; or maybe they’re even just filling out their contract, raking in some more cash before they are unshackled and can move on. Something has to account for the sheer lack of variety in their music for the fourth time. This isn’t about being a purist and this isn’t even about being overly particular, it’s about trying to listen to an album where the tracklisting says ’12’, but after 45 minutes it sounds like you’re still on number one.
Nick Holmes – vocals
Greg Mackintosh – lead guitar
Aaron Aedy – rhythm guitar
Steve Edmonson – bass guitar
1.Don’t Belong 4:20
The intro of this reminded me slightly of Enchantment from Draconian Times, which is definitely not a bad thing. We have the standard piano and synthed strings in the background before the distortion kicks in with some meaty power chords, and they’re the kind that are very likeable, acceptable and not too gritty. Prepare then, ladies and gentleman, for a very average slice of metal. Nick’s vocals are as clean as they have been over the last few albums, no rasping or shouting, and the lyrics are totally mindless with a rhyming scheme so simplistic it’s almost of nursery-like standards. Nevertheless, the song is not a bad one, with quite a heavy, catchy chorus, and overall it’s quite likeable. However, one can’t help but feel a little starved for the old sound, but we have to stop moaning about that and move on, and this is a confident start to the album. Not bad.
2.Close Your Eyes 4:22
This starts off with a lovely heavy riff and even some male choir samples before a chorus with some nicely heavy guitars. Nick’s voice is a little more gritty in this one, but a rather boring and repetitive chorus doesn’t do too much to help the song. The overall result is therefore quite dull, so it’s a shame we can’t close our ears as well as our eyes.
This is one of Paradise Lost’s more melodic songs, not so much because of the instrumentation, but more because of the vocal lines. It’s a welcome difference, even though it doesn’t sound like Paradise Lost at all. Still, given the quality of the last few albums, that’s probably not a bad thing.
4.Red Shift 3:30
Red Shift begins with a wistful and pensive lyric: “There’s something in the air that greets me, there’s something in the air that tells me where I belong”. We even get some nice watery clean guitar in the second verse, but this is ruined by the token heavy chorus, which has an annoying nu-metal riffing patter, which, if the bass were turned down a couple of notches, could almost be out of a Papa Roach song. Or Evanescence. Hey, there’s a thought. However, what really sets this number apart from the others is a welcome guitar solo, which is, alas, too short, though it’s a beautiful thing to hear.
5.Forever After 3:49
You can’t really blame Forever After for being the cash-raking single. It’s a boring standard verse, standard repeating chorus and the disc even comes with the nonsensical video. The only thing that surprises me about the song is that if PL really wanted to write a simple track to generate revenue, they could surely do a lot better than this – it’s not too catchy, it’s just perfectly normal. It is a preppie among metal, a bit of a pariah, but still something its parents would be proud of. The video, on the other hand, makes very little sense. If you’re going to tell a story backwards, do it in the vein of Nightwish’s Bless The Child video which at least was done in a way we could all understand. The most disconcerting thing about the story in the Forever After video, however, is that even though PL have been going up and down in a lift all day playing their music, no-one in their apartment block tells them to shut up. Still, if you lived in the kind of block where people don’t bat an eyelid when their mates fall down lift shafts, a few long-haired llama-wannabes with guitars in an elevator is hardly going to cause you much distraction.
6.Sun Fading 3:28
Sun Fading is one of the more boring and pointless songs on the album, and doesn’t really make you go ‘ooh, I must listen to that again’. It’s more the kind of track that you’ll go back to to remind yourself what it sounded like, before remembering why you didn’t listen to it that often.
7.Laws Of Cause 4:11
This is one of the more heavy and more likeable tracks on the album, with a solid opening riff and chorus. There’s nothing too innovative here, but then, PL seem to have thrown innovation entirely out the window in favour of making totally likeable and marketable music. Of course, many bands do this all the time, but not all need to do it. Still, by this stage in the album you may have, like me, grown to accept mediocrity.
8.Accept The Pain 3:23
‘Overkill, overkill’ sings Nick, and for once I’m inclined to agree with him. Accept The Pain does have a nice lead guitar riff and a nice melodic solo, but I’m really clutching at straws to say something decent about it since the pace is so mechanical, the vocal melody so hackneyed, that it seems that PL will paste in a slightly different solo here and riff there just so they can justify giving the songs different names. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the songs here were written in the amount of time it takes to play them.
9.All You Leave Behind 3:01
With a title remarkably similar to a certain U2 album, but a totally different sound, All You Leave Behind begins with a plinky piano sequence before the power chords come in, and it’s actually no bad experience until the vocals hit us – ‘On and on it rains, on and on no shelter, on and on it rains, the sun has gone forever’. This is the kind of stuff the PL have been writing for years and we know, empirically, that they can write lyrics like these while at a toilet stop on the motorway. This is really insubstantial stuff, with an unadventurous, unpleasing tune, and at just over three minutes, leaving this behind really isn’t difficult.
Shine is actually quite a cheery tune and it really benefits from having the bass cranked up. It’s a singalong number, a happy bouncy Pokèmon of a song and PL really should have included this as a video extra with a bouncing ball over the lyrics. I wouldn’t be surprised if people started singing this song at pub karaoke sessions over the coming years.
Spirit starts off quite similarly to Nirvana’s Lithium until the locomotive riffing comes in, leading into a heavier chorus with some subtle piano in the background. This is really Gothic Metal by numbers now and I can’t help feeling that PL are having a bit of a laugh. They can write stuff like this with their eyes shut, and they probably did. However, this isn’t a problem, what is is whether such a song is interesting and holds your attention, which this doesn’t. Like so many others here.
12.Over The Madness 5:18
Over The Madness is by far the best song on the album and is actually worthy to be called a Paradise Lost song. It also carries an atmosphere, being a slow song, and it’s this slowness that sets it apart from the other numbers. This is the first time that PL seem to have played with feeling in all twelve tracks, and it comes, literally, at the last minute, with a wonderful guitar solo. One wonders why a song like this is at the end. It could simply be to climax the album, or just to show what they can attain when they actually put their minds to it.
Total playing time – 47.20
Tracks – 12
Paradise Lost’s self-titled album is certainly not for the purists, since there are few who will find anything in here harking back to the old days. There are a few guitar solos which are reminiscent of their former sound, but we should really accept the fact that the music that Paradise Lost are making these days is totally different. Still, I don’t get the impression that this is the way that they want things, and it’s hard to tell whether the odd old-school solo added to the songs is just a token injection to please the fans or a result of some pregnant desire to produce more fulfilling, stronger stuff just waiting to burst out of the run of the mill music that BMG are clearly recommending they release.
Nevertheless, there is very little here of worth, merit or interest. This self-titled album seems to have been made with remarkably little effort and it really shows through in the songs. It’s so hard to tell one number from another and as a result the album is mostly devoid of atmosphere and feeling. It feels as if PL are restraining themselves from doing things that they really want to do. It feels like they do have the lifeforce still in them, but it’s buried too deeply in them and as a result, this album is a really average piece of music that pushes no boundaries and should only satisfy the most bored and inexperienced metalhead. It’s a shame, that with so much potential left in them, PL are releasing music like this. It’s almost an insult to their personal potential, but at least the potential is still there somewhere and I hope it can unashamedly show itself once more before they wholly write themselves off.