March is nearly over and soon April will bring “Tragic Idol” the 13th release from Paradise Lost. In anticipation of the new album, I’ve been listening to some of my favorite music from Paradise Lost. Some songs I like better than others, but judging based on entire albums I would have to name “Draconian Times” as my favorite.
Released in 1995, “Draconian Times” was already the fifth album from Paradise Lost. The band’s first three albums were death metal, but starting with their fourth album, “Icon”, they began moving towards a gothic/doom style that would culminate in the masterpiece “Draconian Times.” I feel this was the pinnacle of their catalog; from there on out things started to go down-hill. “Draconian Times” was followed by “One Second” where the band started to incorporate electronic elements into a much more commercial sound. I truly liked a lot of the songs on “One Second”, but it was the beginning of a series of mediocre albums. Eventually the band made their way back onto the metal path, and as far as I am concerned, are back to making quality albums once again.
In 1995, the metal scene of the 80s was all but dead. Except for larger bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, etc., most mainstream metal had either gone grunge or gone underground. Death metal and black metal were starting to revitalize and resurrect metal, but there just were not many bands playing music like that featured on “Draconian Times.” I picked up “Icon” several years earlier and liked it enough to try “Draconian Times” when I saw it at Tower Records. Once I had my hands on the CD, I began listening to it religiously, and rarely found myself parted from it. I would say that, for the mid-90s, Paradise Lost was easily my favorite band. Right up until I discovered Sentenced.
What makes “Draconian Times” so incredible is the outstanding balance between metal music and a gloomy, melancholy gothic style topped off with incredibly catchy hooks. The first time I heard the album it sounded timeless; like I had already been listening to it for years, and was just becoming reacquainted with it. I also liked the slight edge on Nick’s vocals. I thought it was so cool that he could sing clean but also kind of growl it up some. At this point in time, most singers were either still wailing like the 80s or adopting the all-out death/black growling that was becoming more popular. The melodic-with-a-harsh-edge vocals seemed like a brand new toy to me, and I wanted more.
I fully expect the “Tragic Idol” album will be another terrific release, but if you want to hear some classic Paradise Lost, just check out “Draconian Times.” You cannot go wrong with this album.