Released: 2015, Century Media Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Pound for pound, is there a better band out there than Paradise Lost? Yes, there was much ballyhoo around their EMI years, but I challenge you to find a genuine blemish in their catalog. As the indisputable progenitors of the entire gothic metal movement, it seemed inevitable that the boys would eventually find themselves performing with a full symphony orchestra in some ancient European theater. And that’s exactly where we find the band on SYMPHONY FOR THE LOST, a new 2-disc live offering, recorded last September in Bulgaria’s Roman theater (constructed in the 2nd Century AD) and accompanied by the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra for the 1st of 2 sets on the album.
The thing that immediately caught my attention with SYMPHONY FOR THE LOST was the setlist. Far from a greatest hits/legacy package, there’s a fair amount of deeper cuts from more recent releases, and for me personally, that’s a huge selling point. I love “Eternal”, but I’ll trade that for “Your Own Reality” or “Joys of the Emptiness” any day of the week. For the most part, the orchestral accompaniment raises a collection of already colossal tunes to even larger heights. The pre-PLAGUE WITHIN performance of “Victim of the Past” provides new dimension and depth to its studio counterpart, and the closing rendition of “Gothic” will bring tears of joy to the eyes of fanboys everywhere – this is the way the song is meant to be heard. Other songs come off a little awkward; there’s a pounding horn section on “Soul Courageous” that sounds like a funk band pulling off an unlikely cover. Most entertaining, however, is Nick Holmes' banter with the audience - for such a melancholy fellow, he really seems to be enjoying himself.
The 2nd disc is a traditional live set (sans Orchestra) in the same venue, but is no less impactful. Paradise Lost is a well-oiled live machine, and the performances here only serve to support that truth. Classics like “As I Die” and “The Last Time” are countered with gems like “Isolate” and “Erased”; the band takes the audience on an unpredictable journey, but there’s complete satisfaction by the time you reach your destination.
As good as everything sounds on SYMPHONY FOR THE LOST, I’d recommend picking up the CD/DVD package that includes full video of the performance and a making of documentary. The location is breathtaking, the band is in prime form, and the audience is rabid. It’s a more than a live album, it’s a complete experience. There’s no other band like Paradise Lost, and SYMPHONY OF THE LOST proves it.