Lost Paradise / Gothic
53:25min / 49:31min
The calendar says it’s 2004 approaching, neither 1991 nor 1992, therefore I feel somehow lost in time (why don’t you put it straight and just say "feel stupid" – my inner editor) trying to review the two first PARADISE LOST albums. Especially bearing in mind how much tact and delicacy this task, kindly offered by my external editor, Frank, demands. You see, we all know that sad history pretty well. What PARADISE LOST were for us back in 1990 and what they turned into in a couple of years afterwards. But should it be taken into consideration now, reviewing the re-releases of "Lost Paradise" and "Gothic"? Of course not, so I’ll try to do my best to forget about the band’s "progress" for a while, but it’s impossible to promise there won’t be any bitter sarcasm hidden between the lines here and there. Even though the demo "Frozen Illusion" has made it clear what could be expected from this Halifax quintet, for the most part of the audience "Lost Paradise" was like a blast. It definitely wasn’t your average Death Metal release humbly knocking at the door. It wasn’t trying to seduce or entice anyone either. Instead, it used to grab the listeners across the belly and throw them head first into the slough of depression and misery. Oh, they knew how to eliminate the last gleams of hope and light and let the darkness descend… Despite its deep sorrowful nature, it was no lame Gothic Rock (and there was no such thing as Gothic Metal back then) but Death Metal, the doomy and gloomy way. I would call it apocalyptic Death Metal. Now, listening to soft and mellow tunes Nick Holmes sings nowadays, it’s almost impossible to believe that he used to produce one of the most impressive and lively growls ever heard by mortal beings. Contrary to the faceless, nameless and countless army of dull one-note growlers that Death Metal scene regurgitated, Nick used to be a voice of Death itself personified. All in all, it’s a brilliant album, although its shining is of rather specific kind. More of some graveyard nature, you know, that deem green glow they used to portray in cinema. Blessed with dark and depressive, brutal and menacing, but at the same time intelligent and elegant music, up to these days "Lost Paradise" doesn’t sound either dated or naive. Though, for the new generations of Metalheads it maybe does – why not, if there are people out there who prefer the new PARADISE LOST stuff to the old one? Couldn’t care less about them though. Back in its time "Lost Paradise" was innovative, fresh and inspiring. Now it became classic tested by time and ever changing preferences of the audience. The year number 1990 didn’t crawl into the history archives yet when our English gentlemen entered Academy Music Studios again to record its follow-up, their most outstanding album called "Gothic". The result is well familiar to anyone that has anything to do with Heavy Metal. Moreover, I believe anyone not familiar with this album should be placed under glass into the museum. I wonder if there was any Metalhead back in 1991 who could resist the dark beauty of this monumental piece of Metal art? We are talking history now, therefore any sense of reviewing the stuff we all know literally by heart escapes me. I feel quite stupid even trying and can’t see any reason in describing "Gothic". Can you, Frank? (nah, not really… – Frank) Well, "Gothic" is remarkable in many ways. It even gave PARADISE LOST credits which should have gone to the others – usage of classical female vocals, inventing the new subgenre of Heavy Metal, blah, blah, blah. You know what’s so great about CELTIC FROST, by the way? It is how its influences usually grow so deep into the subconsciousness of their fans throughout the years that when these fans start to make their own records it’s pretty easy to distinguish a touch of CELTIC FROST in them even though their music haven’t much to do with the works of Swiss legend. Like in our case. But PARADISE LOST isn’t CELTIC FROST. And by now it’s evident it will never be. For some time "Gothic" had been my absolute favorite, being played day in and day out. But once it went to the shelf it remained there collecting dust up to the day I was offered to review it. My first thought was that I simply had had too much of it in its golden times, but when it comes to the other faves of mine from different periods of time, the situation seems to be a bit different. "Unleashed In The East", "Heavy Metal Maniac", "Apocalyptic Raids", "Pleasure To Kill", "Nightfall", "Ticket To Mayhem" or even Kari Rueslatten’s "Demorecordings", wonder why they have never been covered by dust. What do all of them have that "Gothic" is maybe lacking, what do you think, Frank? (good question… – Frank) The guitar tone is maybe too safe. You know, like roses all the way, but what are roses without thorns? The voice of Nick is sharp as hell and full of those thorns, but guitars (except for in ‘Shattered’ and ‘Silent’) are not, unfortunately. Just a minor complaint, of course, but sometimes such minor details are able to kill the monster. Take me neither wrong nor very serious though. By all means it’s an outstanding album. But searching for the spots on the sun is such a thrilling sport… By the way, somehow "Gothic" reminds me a beautiful top-model on the podium – too many similar features. Try to figure them out yourself, if you care. OK, enough beating about the bush. To draw a line, is it a kind of record to sell your soul for, Frank? (it certainly is! – Frank) Besides the original material these re-releases also include the material of 1994’s "Gothic" EP, unfortunately split in two halfs though. The different mixes of the titletrack and ‘The Painless’ made it onto "Lost Paradise", along with a live version of ‘Eternal’, while ‘Rotting Misery’ (the "Doom Mix") and ‘Breeding Fear’ (the "Demolition Dub") ended up on the re-release of "Gothic" (the album). Both re-releases furthermore come as dig-packs with lyrics, but all that didn’t make these albums any worse, so there’s no reason to ignore them if you have missed the original Peaceville releases back in early 90s.
Timothy Dovgy / Frank Stöver
• PARADISE LOST - Drown In Darkness - The Early Demos (Norman McCann)