Paradise Lost Bio
Fast we found, fast shut The dismal Gates, and barricado'd strong; But long ere our approaching heard within Noise, other than the sound of Dance or Song, Torment, and loud lament, and furious rage."
John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book VIII
The first photo of Paradise Lost showed five guys in front of the Dewsbury cemetery in Yorkshire. At that time, the British underground metal band had just released their first album, conveniently titled "Lost Paradise". They wanted to look grim and foreboding on the pages of the first interested fanzines, but actually they look more, well, unhappy. That was 1989. Since then the lads have come a pretty long way, attaining the throne of the metal movement and scratching at the gates of the pop Olympus.
And still, they're…unhappy.
In fact, the feeling of "being miserable" is not just a well-worn quote from the lips of singer Nick Holmes or guitarist Greg Mackintosh, the two spokespersons for the band, but rather the one constant in the whole of their musical legacy, which has otherwise always sought out new challenges. Everything started with "Lost Paradise" and the aforementioned promo shot in front of a Northern English graveyard. But the fact that Paradise Lost were destined for greater things first demonstrated itself with their second album, "Gothic" – again a fairly obvious title, but it frankly hit the ‘coffin' nail on the head. With "Gothic", they created overnight the genre of Gothic Metal, combining the raw energy of the heaviest metal guitars with the fragile aesthetics of Dark Wave. This album was their first small success and a portent of things to come. Artistically it remained a sketch, with the band quickly detouring from this stylistic direction. But it made possible their first European tour, secured them a new, more generous record deal and consequently a shot at a professional career and it assured them of the cult status necessary to make this happen.
"Shades Of God", the next record, turned out not to be the breakthrough "third album", but it contained the song that even today remains THE hymn for all self-confessed Paradise Lost fans, "As I Die". It was the following album, "Icon", that finally established the band in the Champions League and that is still recognised today as a milestone in modern Heavy Metal. The somewhat coy Death Metal roots were outgrown here, replaced by more traditional, rabble-rousing riffs; but the penetrating feeling of unhappiness remained.
This was followed by "Draconian Times", Icon's identical twin and the most commercially successful album by the band to date. Suddenly the band, who had worked so extensively up until then to create their own unique style, stood at a crossroads. Greg Mackintosh, their creative guide, began to experiment more heavily with electronic instruments, leading Paradise Lost out of the metal mainstream. The result, "One Second", split the fan community, but nevertheless continues even now to impress with its experimental force, eliminating the mannerisms of Heavy Metal in the music of Paradise Lost and placing their inherent sadness in a completely new light. A light that, over the course of the two most recent releases, increasingly dimmed for those ‘original fans' who weren't prepared to accompany the band further on their musical journey.
With "Host" and "Believe In Nothing", Paradise Lost turned their collective back once and for all on the expectations of the metal scene and dove headlong and full of energy into the arms of the pop godhead. And the band's magnificent compositions stood on their own even without the support of heavy guitar riffs. Still, "Believe In Nothing" ultimately represented the second creative twist for the band, who found themselves this time not so much in a creative crisis, but rather more in a progressive one.
As such, the latest work, "Symbol Of Life", represents in some ways a new beginning. At a time in which the quality of a Paradise Lost album is still measured by many on the basis of its heavy guitar content, Nick Holmes, Greg Mackintosh, Aaron Aedy, Steve Edmondson and Lee Morris offer their audience a new challenge in which there is no shortage of guitar bombast, but without subjugating themselves to the apparent constraints of their previous history. Instead, they have released themselves from the black & white logic of their previous creative decisions and are taking their next artistic steps with a variety of different feet. "Symbol Of Life" allows the magnitude of influences that have always hovered in the background of their work to roam freely, whether in the form of the enchanting ‘Dead Can Dance' cover, "Xavier", the almost-forgotten Sisters Of Mercy influenced gothic hymns or rhythmically state-of-the-art Cyber-Rock – Paradise Lost come across on this album as ‘liberated' in the truest sense of the word. Just one ghost of the past will remain intact with them forever it seems – the ghost of ‘being miserable' that continues to be the unifying force in this album as in all of their previous work.