Paradise Lost has released a new lyric video “Enchantment”, the opening track on their forthcoming album Draconian Times (Music For Nations) 25th-anniversary reissue set for a December 4th release date. You can watch the video for “Enchantment” here:Continue reading
For such a modest gent, Paradise Lost’s Nick Holmes is one such musician who can remember the glory days of record label advances. Surely Paradise Lost wouldn’t have had access to bountiful excess, but they did indulge their rock star side. “When we started with EMI we hired Jane Seymour’s stately home to stay at while recording. We bought loads of studio equipment and had a chef and everything! It was great. That’s was the benchmark of success for us, you could get a fillet steak whenever you wanted! It was fucking ridiculous when I think about it but there was money in the industry and people bought albums! If you think its right or wrong, you get wrapped up in it because you have industry people telling you it would be a good idea. You can enter a different world easily. We did waste money on silly things and spent a fortune on booze! The bar bills were insane! It was a real cliché but we spent a lot of money on booze especially around the Host album!”
“We dipped our toes in the pool of rock stardom but we never plunged in. It was like being Metallica for a day but then it was gone again. Now it’s strict budgets. I remember the first time we went to Israel and did all the tourist stuff and hung out. These days, you’re off stage and on a plane two hours later!”
Having invested Gothic Metal and created a memorable legacy, many bands have come and gone during PL’s career, splitting up and reforming on a whim. Yet Paradise Lost have endured and existed without such issues. “We need to make a living. We forfeited a life doing anything else years ago. We never had the time to have a couple of years off and reassess things. You could count the bands on one hand who could take five years out. You don’t shut down the shop just because you’re fed up.”
Such acclaim for Greg’sVallenfyre project has been well deserved with a spark clearly ignited under Paradise Lost. Surely though at this stage in their career could talk of side projects been a concern to the productivity of Paradise Lost? “I didn’t know what he was doing on his time off. I didn’t know how much he’d got back into death metal. He asked me if I wanted to do the vocals but my head wasn’t in the right place at the time. I didn’t know I’d do it himself. It runs alongside PL fine. I keep missing their shows so I want to catch them.”
Considering Nick’s confession that he could have been a part of Vallenfyre, his involvement in death metal supergroup Bloodbath, were Holmes replaced Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt comes as an even greater surprise. “It was a good two or three years after that. We’d look on the early days of death metal with great fondness. The guys in Katatonia are all four years younger than me, but that was a lot when you were all teenagers. We listed to different generations of death metal. They were listening to Deicide and I was more into the early Death stuff. The tape trading days were a great time, exciting and new. Anything that has happened with PL has been a gradual change. We had written the whole album before I did the Bloodbath stuff and already decided that there would be death metal elements.”
What must it be in a band with the guys from Katatonia, a band who have cited Paradise Lost as an influence? “Half the conversation who can name the most obscure band and who has all the old demo tapes. Jonas is very into that stuff. Bloodbath are weekend warriors, we get on a plane, play a gig then go home. It’s refreshing to play with new people and worked really well for us. Everyone is friends so there’s no negative.”
How Paradise Lost have kept relevant and free of nostalgia. “I never heard the term ‘The Peaceville Three’ until recently. We started before Anathema and My Dying Bride. I think Anathema played their first gig in Liverpool with us. As a band we don’t need to name drop or fit into a scene. We are institutionalised in making music. I’ve blown my chances of being a surgeon long ago. I could write a book but that would be about what I have done with the band. You never know!”
The older you get, the more you realise that not only is “growing up” more complicated than you think, it sometimes looks like going back. In the mid-late 90s, bands were tripping over themselves to grow out of Metal – dropping the growled vocals, softening the sound and heading in a more self-consciously “mature” direction. Everything that lives, however, changes (apart from Lemmy), and the road ahead sometimes leads backwards.
When Nick Holmes announced last year that he was joining no-frills old school Death Metal revivalists Bloodbath it seemed to some people to have genuinely come out of nowhere, but the signs had been there if you knew where to look. My Dying Bride were very much ahead of the curve, reintroducing their Death Metal elements mere years after ditching them, but the others were catching up slowly – The King Is Blind, Vallenfyre (featuring PL’s own Gregor Mackintosh) and Bloodbath themselves all being formed by “mature” former Death/Doom Metal musicians. By the time that Paradise Lost – who had been steadily moving back to their heavier roots for the last several albums – announced that Holmes would be growling again on The Plague Within (Century Media), it can only have come as a surprise to people who’d stopped paying attention years ago.
That said, it’s important to start by understanding what The Plague Within is, and more importantly what it isn’t. Even in their demo days, Paradise Lost weren’t Morbid Angel, and this album should be best understood as a partial return to their roots. Ignoring the vocals for a second, the sound here is slick and melodic, the focus very much on big riffs and catchy choruses that most call to mind their Icon or Draconian Times (Music For Nations) periods. Songs explore the slower and faster ends of the mid-pace, but never really indulge in either. “Groovy” is a word that isn’t frequently used to describe Paradise Lost – and it certainly doesn’t fit every track on The Plague Within – but there are moments here where they almost attain mid-period Cathedral levels of swing.
Which is not to suggest that the rumours of their return have been overstated, just that they need to be put in context. The guitars are thicker and heavier than they’ve been in a very long time, and that adds a pleasing weight to even the catchiest of tracks. It’s not all catchy grooves, either – ‘Beneath Broken Earth’ captures the sort of forlorn True Doom grief-pride you’re more likely to associate with Warning or Solstice, and ‘Flesh From Bone’ has a genuine old-school Death Metal rumble that I genuinely never thought I’d hear from Paradise Lost again.
The vocals are the most instant point of focus, and they’re largely well done, shifting between mournful clean singing and the audible dry growl Holmes used so well on the recent Bloodbath.
It goes without saying, of course, that it’s not perfect. They’ve chosen to open proceedings with two of the weaker tracks, leaving the stronger ones to the end where the long running time means they’ve lost some of their impact. The vocals don’t always work – some of the clean singing sounds a little flat, and when Holmes isn’t pushing the full-on growl he sometimes settles for an awkward gruff-singing compromise that sits a little awkwardly. ‘Cry Out’ pushes the groovy-fun-party-Doom thing a little too hard and ends up sitting a little awkwardly on the album. Ultimately, however, The Plague Within is the kind of album that will stand or fall on the quality of the song-writing, and though it’s a bit of a mixed bag, overall they’ve done what they need to make it work.
Not a descent into the darkest bowels of harrowing Death-Doom, then, but expecting it to be would be rather silly. What The Plague Within offers is a sincere, heartfelt amalgam of older influences and current songwriting from a band who have always had the courage to follow their own muse where it leads them, even if it seems to lead them back.