Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Paradise Lost - "Symphony for the Lost" (Album Review)

By: Richard Maw

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 20/11/2015
Label: Century Media Records



With three discs and a plethora of music, this is definitely worth the asking price. Paradise Lost are that most special of bands; unique in sound and approach, untethered by genre restrictions and with a back catalogue of many albums (including a few classic ones). They deserve status as a national treasure, but they will probably never get it. A great and innovative band, doing interesting things this far into their career? There are not many of them around. This release exemplifies the spirit of Paradise Lost superbly.

“Symphony For The Lost” CD//DVD//LP track listing:

CD One (with orchestra):
01. Tragic Idol
02. Last Regret
03. Your Own Reality
04. Over The Madness
05. Joys Of Emptiness
06. Victim Of The Past
07. Soul Courageous
08. Gothic
CD Two (without orchestra):
01. The Enemy
02. Erased
03. Isolate
04. Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us
05. As I Die
06. One Second
07. True Belief
08. Say Just Words
09. The Last Time
DVD
* First Half (with orchestra): 41:16
* Second Half (without orchestra): 41:29
* Documentary: 26:17

The Review:

Paradise Lost cap off 2015 with this luxurious release. Three discs comprising audio and visual treats (2 x CDs and 1 x DVD) recorded in Bulgaria- not for the casual fan, then. Add to this the fact that half of the performance is with an orchestra. Of course, this type of thing is not exactly new (as far back as Deep Purple and as high profile as Metallica's pointless 1999 offering), so the question is whether or not it fits with the band in question.

Fortunately, Paradise Lost's unique brand of melancholic melodrama is perfectly suited to classical embellishments. The first disc is thus an interesting and diverting trip for the band. The material chosen is uniformly strong and this allows the orchestral flourishes to open up the songs and add a little colour to the shades of grey. The title track from “Tragic Idol” (again, a fantastic album! I will keep saying it...) opens confidently and then the material that follows is a fine career mixture from the heavier later albums and even some mid period oddities too. Naturally, it is the likes of “Gothic” which draw the best response and also sound the most grand, but I would put the last couple of PL records up against the early stuff- it is that good in my opinion.

The sound is uniformly good (and live) with consistent drums, a fine mix between band and orchestra and a very live sounding Nick Holmes (consistent and not too polished, with ad libs intact). This kind of record would only have been possible for the likes of Metallica until recently. Paradise Lost turn in a creditable first disc, then.

The second audio disc comprises the band playing sans orchestra- stripped back, if you will, and with a similarly eclectic set list. For example, “Erased” from “Symbol of Life” gets an airing, as does “True Belief” from “Icon”,Victim of The Past” from the excellent “The Plague Within” is here too!; it is pleasing that the band don't just go for more obvious choices and instead allow us to hear album tracks (and indeed album tracks from a couple of their more obscure albums) in a different light.

Sadly, I have not had the pleasure of seeing the live DVD, but I suspect that would tie the whole thing together most effectively and add to the aural enjoyment of the CDs- live DVDs, when done right, can really give a better understanding of any given band and allow for a re-appraisal  of material that you might not have got the first time around or even overlooked altogether for whatever reason.

With three discs and a plethora of music, this is definitely worth the asking price. Paradise Lost are that most special of bands; unique in sound and approach, untethered by genre restrictions and with a back catalogue of many albums (including a few classic ones). They deserve status as a national treasure, but they will probably never get it. A great and innovative band, doing interesting things this far into their career? There are not many of them around. This release exemplifies the spirit of Paradise Lost superbly. Oh, and the setting of concert- in a Roman amphitheatre- is apparently spectacular and sounds as if it is well suited to this sweeping and grandiose music.

“Symphony for the Lost” is available here

Band info: official | facebook



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