Released: 2007, Century Media
It’s hard to believe bands when they say that their next album is going to be a return to some sort of older sound that fans really crave. Still, when the promotion leading up to the release of IN REQUIEM claimed that it would be heavier and more reminiscent of older classics like DRACONIAN TIMES and ICON, I secretly hoped that for once it would be true. Upon hearing it for the first time, I am happy to say that the album does deliver a much needed slab of dark, sinister, and, yes, heavier Paradise Lost. Much of what has been missing on recent releases is here for the pleasure of longtime fans.
Eradicated from the sound of this new record is the abundance of electronics that have riddled every album from ONE SECOND up to the last, self-titled release. Instead of sleekly produced songs with pop sensibilities, IN REQUIEM offers more ominous, metal-based compositions that are less focused on hooks and catchiness and more focused on creating mood and atmosphere. That is not to say that the songs are not memorable, or that they do not have strong choruses because they do have that as well.
From the first track, “Never for the Damned,” old fans will find something refreshing: a doomy, heavy song that changes tempos in ways similar to songs on SHADES OF GOD and, especially, ICON. One thing you will notice immediately is the renewed fierceness of the vocal delivery by Nick Holmes. The guitar sound is also more sinister, and the classic melancholic leads permeate this song as well. “Ash & Debris” is another vintage sounding track. Beginning with a moment of haunting violin, it jumps into an upbeat riff, accompanied by a verse with chant-like backing vocals. Again the guitar is put in the forefront and it cuts and bites. This song features one of the more memorable choruses with a subtle piano underlying it. The song “Requiem” has thundering drums and a chugging guitar riff that makes this song one of the heaviest they’ve done in awhile. “Prelude to Descent” is another great track that sort of synthesizes the doomier songs of the past with the more polished veneer of their more contemporary work, and it is a true highlight of the album.
For the most part, Paradise Lost has delivered what they hinted that they would, and it is certainly an album that should bring back some of the fan base that has deserted them during recent years. It is not a perfect album, and there are a few songs that sound like leftovers from the recent era, but they are the exception rather than the rule, and therefore, even they can be enjoyed during a complete listen of the album. Ultimately, IN REQUIEM serves as nice progression for the band where they acknowledge their past while trying to take a step forward. It is an extremely satisfying listen, and it clearly signals that there is new life in the veins of these godfathers of gothic metal.