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Paradise Lost - Lost Paradise Review

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Paradise Lost - Lost Paradise

Paradise Lost - Lost Paradise

Anybody who read my past column about My Dying Bride’s As The Flower Withers knows that Paradise Lost was mentioned, alongside Anathema, as one of the important figures in the evolution of the death/doom genre. The band’s first album, 1990's Lost Paradise, precedes the debuts from those two bands by a few years, and is the most aggressive record ever released by Paradise Lost. It’s the byproduct of a motley crew of young and bitter musicians fed up with religion and obsessed with misery.

This anger transplanted itself on the buzzing riffs and inspired growls from vocalist Nick Holmes. Newer fans of Holmes will be shocked at how deep and guttural his vocals get, and there are no signs of the haunting clean tones he has used on more recent albums. The pace tends to be middle of the road, with a few speedy breaks on tracks like “Breeding Fear” to put the shift towards death metal. The band works the doom and death balance well for only having a couple of years experience writing and performing together.

While other bands testing this genre out were pushing into lengthy excursions on their debut albums, Paradise Lost didn’t go far past five minutes on any of the songs on Lost Paradise. That was more than enough time to get their message out, and this message involved a heavy dose of guitar solos and machine-gun double bass drumming. Lead guitarist Gregor Mackintosh shows little restraint with his solos, finger-tapping for a solid minute on the opening to “Paradise Lost.” He fights through the uneven production and mixing, which makes the guitars sound tiny and sterile.

The keyboards and orchestration heard on the next few albums are seldom used on Lost Paradise. “Rotting Misery” pushes out some piano work on its pre-chorus to give off a gothic mood to the track, something that the band fails to do with the underutilized female vocals on “Breeding Fear.” They are only used for about five seconds, and it seems like the band picked some woman off the street and threw her in front of a mic. It’s disappointing that they didn’t explore this further on the album, though they would get better with that incorporation on Gothic and Shades Of God.

There were still some kinks that had to be worked out that the band would get better at. Lost Paradise is bookended by two boring instrumentals, an intro and title track, that seem like a last-ditch solution to get the album past the half-hour stretch. The former is an agonizing build that does have a small payoff with a question whispered to the audience: “Where is your God now?” The latter is nothing more than the guitarists noodling on their instruments for two minutes.

Paradise Lost hit their peak with 1995‘s Draconian Times, which earned them wide praise from all over the world. As the years wore on, Lost Paradise became an artifact that would remain buried in the band’s past. They don’t acknowledge this record much anymore, but it’s a tirade of noise and brutality that is missing from the latter-day era of the band. For lending a hand to the death/doom sound that became big in the mid-‘90s, Lost Paradise gets the nod for this week’s Retro Recommendation.

“Breeding Fear” Live 1989 Video

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