Released: 2009, Century Media Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Next to Black Sabbath, I’ve probably logged more hours listening to Paradise Lost than any other band in my album collection. The first time I heard the GOTHIC album back in ’91, my world completely changed. Unquestionably the progenitors of the entire gothic metal scene, Paradise Lost have seen their share of both career and stylistic highs and lows. But what many forget is that the band started out as a pretty gruff death metal band; albeit one that incorporated slower doom elements and what would eventually become their trademark harmonized guitar melodies floating atop of contrasting rhythms.
While the band is hard at work on the studio follow up to 2007’s phenomenal IN REQUIEM, Century Media has released a collection of the band’s original demos to whet the appetite of fans during the wait. DROWN IN DARKNESS features the PARADISE LOST and FROZEN ILLUSION demos from 1988 and 1989 respectively. Additionally, there are six live tracks from 1989’s PLAINS OF DESOLATION bootleg included for good measure. This is at heart, an album for the hard core PL fan base. Digitally remastered, the songs included here represent the creative nexus of what would become a genre defining metal band and as such sound 100% as they did 20 years ago. Stylistically these songs are closest in line with where the band’s head was at for 1990’s LOST PARADISE debut, but they have distinct dimensions of their own that make them worth hearing.
As a longtime fan, it’s a treat to hear how songs like “Internal Torment,” “Frozen Illusion,” and “Paradise Lost” originated before the final versions ended up on the band’s seminal debut. I may be a sucker for the old stuff, but the spacious (i.e. minimal) production qualities on these 3 songs lend a more ominous tone than that of their counterparts on the debut. The live tracks are also fun, as you’ll likely never experience a Paradise Lost this heavy ever again. You’ll hear a band that was young and hungry, with Nick Holmes’ seriously evil death growl and some menacing old school British death metal riffs (a la early Benediction and Bolt Thrower). And the banter between Holmes and the crowd shows that the band’s legendary self effacing sense of humor was present early on. In full on death grunt, Holmes pontificates: “We don’t play fast metal, that’s for fucking wimps” and “Are you possessed by Satan?” as well as delivering a few shout outs to friends in the audience.
Kudos go out to Century Media for not giving this album the cheap, cash in treatment. The packaging looks great and Holmes himself contributed the liner notes. DROWN IN DARKNESS is an opportunity to come full circle with a band that has truly carved their own creative path. Though this won’t appeal to everyone, serious Paradise Lost fans will eat this up.