Artist: Paradise Lost
Title: Tragic Idol
Genre: Doom/ Death/ Gothic Metal
Release Date: 20th April 2012
Label: Century Media
PARADISE LOST were not only a part of the Peaceville Three with ANATHEMA and MY DYING BRIDE, credited with developing the death/ doom genre but with ‘Icon’ and ‘Draconian Times’ also applauded as pioneers of gothic metal. Whilst they were applauded for exploring these musical territories later they were scorned by some for their escape into the electronic/synth pop music during the brief spell when heavy metal was in decline and the genre’s albums were selling badly and for only coming back to their original sound when the genre picked itself up from the floor. I guess the nay sayers didn’t know their deviation had nothing to do with rats abandoning a seemingly sinking ship, but with a need to explore other shores!
‘Tragic Idol’ is an album that connects them with their death/ doom metal roots and is one of the heaviest especially within its first half. You can certainly hear that they went back to their influences not only by bands of the classic doom metal legacy such as CANDLEMASS but also some more classical heavy metal albums. They stripped away the orchestral and the gothic metal. Holmes lays into it with more of the aggressive tendencies, but don’t get your heart pumping in panic though - it’s not extreme ones, nor is it the staple of Goth Metal vocal approach - more your Hetfield side. So maybe this is not a return to ‘Draconian Times’, however, this can prove as much of a defining album as that given a chance to enjoy it fully, digest it and let it stand a test of time.
The album’s title (and even its brilliant cover with the Art Nouveau vibe in a style reminiscent of Alphonse Mucha) might already indicate that lyrically PARADISE LOST is going to try to reconnect you with some home truths about the way we live. What’s on target is society that puts idols in front of itself and gets fooled by the artificialities. In Holmes’s own words “worshipping another human being with an equal amount of susceptibility to pain, suffering and depression as the next person, but by some chance has been propelled into some godlike status. Adulation eats away and makes the person ugly on the inside, believing their self importance to be above others, not realizing their insignificance and irrelevance in the grand scheme of things.” It somehow reminds me of ‘No Gods, no masters’ as here it turns into ‘No Idols, no masters’. ‘Honesty In Death’ was not only a teaser for the fans in the run-up to the album’s release, but its theme connects with the album’s cover again - death serves as a leverage. In front of the stark reality of life’s end all the glitter is rendered meaningless and what really matters stands out.
Crucify, which has been given already into circulation on the YouTube by the label, follows on the first track ‘Solitary One’ which ushers in the “new sound” with a slight look-back towards their earlier catalogue; there are soft keyboards and a tinge of melancholy. However with ‘Crucify’ it delves more into the heavier, more classical tone the album is going to take. The riffs are at once cutting and piercing. ‘Fear Of Impeding Hell’ shows more their melodic tendencies again. Though it could have had the orchestra approach, it probably stands better for being stripped off, and the virtuosity represented by some guitar solos that are at once modern but paying homage to the classical Heavy Metal at the same time. The ending which halts in speed and unexpectedly changes the mood as it brings on a great deal of sadness that will grip you before you know it. ‘Worth Fighting For’ is memorable with its understated catchiness, beauty mixed with the hardness and especially great work on the drums. The echo on the vocals is perfect with the lyrics and the feel of the song too.
There is a lot of power in this album, a visceral experience, it can be said that the album is quite epic. Its turn towards their roots doesn’t feel nostalgic or outdated but tied up to modern tendencies and to their own unique and matured expression. There is a lot of attention paid to the details, even when Holmes is between the verses, there’ll be a lot going on to occupy your mind. I definitely see this amongst their best albums.
01. Solitary One
03. Fear Of Impending Hell
04. Honesty In Death
05. Theories From Another World
06. In This We Dwell
07. To The Darkness
08. Tragic Idol
09. Worth Fighting For
10. The Glorious End
Bonus tracks for Ltd. Edition: (not included in this review)
01. Ending Through Changes
02. Never Take Me Alive (Spear Of Destiny cover version)
Nick Holmes - vocals
Greg Mackintosh - lead guitar
Aaron Aedy - rhythm guitar
Steve Edmondson - bass guitar
Adrian Erlandsson - drums
www.paradiselost.co.uk / http://www.myspace.com/paradiselostuk
Total: 9.75 / 10
Buy the album here!