Last month I wrote up Paradise Lost and “Draconian Times” in anticipation of the release of their thirteenth album, “Tragic Idol.” As any fan of Paradise Lost knows, the band has undergone many stylistic changes over the years, some changes for better, and some for worse. “Draconian Times” has always been my favorite Paradise Lost album, and while I have enjoyed bits and pieces of all the albums that have been released since, none has ever measured up to “Draconian in my mind. The band spent several albums working through a gothic/electronic phase before eventually steering back toward a more metal approach with their 2005 self-titled album. That album, and the two that followed, were all seemingly working toward regaining their credibility and finding the right mix of heavy and melodic. Well, in my opinion, I would say with “Tragic Idol” they have arrived.
Every time a new Paradise Lost album comes out people talk about how they hope it will sound more like “Draconian Times” (or, depending on their taste, one of the earlier albums, but for the sake of where I am heading with this, just agree with me here) and then they are disappointed when it does not. Well if you are still waiting for “Draconian Times” part 2, I am sorry to say you will have to keep waiting. This album does not sound like “Draconian Times”, but it is the first album since then, in my opinion, to channel the same spirit and intensity as that revered album. So no, this does not sound like a continuation of “Draconian Times”, but is the first album to feel like a natural progression from the music that was created in 1995. I cannot speak for you, but for me, that is all I have been waiting for, so I am pretty damn thrilled.
“Tragic Idol” is rather like a return to their heavier roots but with still a touch of melody too. I have always liked Nick Holmes voice the best when he puts a harsh edge on it and then tries to sing something melodic. When he has that edge on his voice, he does not seem to quite hit melodic, like he falls just a hair short of actually singing, and that is what I love most. It gives the songs an earnest despair that sounds so metal, and it is still kind of catchy. His voice was great on “One Second” when he was actually full on singing, but I prefer him in this style better.
If you have been sitting on the fence wondering whether it was worthwhile to invest in a new Paradise Lost album, let me assure you, now is the time. This is without a doubt my favorite Paradise Lost album of the last 17 years. Here are a couple of tracks you can check out on YouTube - the video for “Honesty in Death” and the audio track for “Crucify.” Enjoy.