Review : Paradise Lost - Tragic Idol
SputnikmusicEver since Paradise Lost started to move away from their electro-rock experiments, each album has been met with a 'return to roots' prediction that has never turned out to be accurate. Based on that, it should come as no surprise that the band's thirteenth album, Tragic Idol, is being met with the same hopeful prediction, but, for the first time, it's not too far off base. At its foundation, Tragic Idol continues down the same evolutionary path as every post-Believe in Nothing release, but it has also gone a step further by including an obvious nod towards the band's early material. For those that haven't been following each release since Symbol of Life, Paradise Lost have slowly been phasing out the electro-rock influences in favor of gritty riffs and grittier vocals, and Tragic Idol is the culmination of that effort. The electronics, clean singing and most other elements first introduced on One Second have been removed, and in their place is a collection of songs that rely almost entirely on dirty metal riffs and morose leads.
The album's opening song, 'Solitary One', almost seems to serve as a transitional piece between the band's immediate past and the rest of Tragic Idol. It is the only song to make prominent use of keyboards, and it is also one of the few to feature a cleanly sung chorus. Due to these additional features, 'Solitary One' is one of the more instantly memorable tracks and a great way to ease into the album. After that initial track, the band are fully committed to delivering a powerful assortment of songs based on doom-oriented riffs, wailing leads and a traditional metal edge. This has allowed Tragic Idol the distinction of containing some of the band's heaviest material, and definitely some of its most visceral (relatively speaking, of course). In addition, the moments where a certain riff-style might remind of Draconian Times or a particularly miserable lead might immediately recall the best moments of Icon are just icing on the cake, and a welcome addition to the overall direction of Tragic Idol. The problem is that they might have taken their current evolution a little too far.
Don't take that last statement the wrong way, though – the prominent reintroduction of early nineties influences is most certainly welcome, but it didn't have to come at the expense of the remaining electro elements. The most noticeable problem created by the lack of electronic elements is that a whole undercurrent of melody is missing, and nothing is present to make up for it. This has the immediate effect of making each track much less instant and, overall, requires quite a few listens before the album will fully click. This issue is intensified by Nick Holmes' decision to sing almost entirely in the gritty style that he has slowly been phasing in since Symbol of Life. The relegation of these two elements has left a gaping hole in each track that the older influences just can't fill. Overall, the lack of song-defining elements combined with the use of similar sounds and tempos has lead to an album with a very homogenous feel that easily allows individual songs to blend together. Thankfully, despite these shortcomings, Tragic Idol is still a solid album, it's just not as exciting or diverse as its last few predecessors....full text
MetalgigsThe number “13” has long been thought of as representing bad luck, but in this case that proves not be. Yorkshire doom legends Paradise Lost have produced a thirteenth album that should satisfy long-time fans and hopefully bring onboard new ones too. The five-piece have experimented with electronica and an almost commercial hard rock-type sound at some points in their career, but the trend more recently has been toward the classic sound of the early to mid-90s, when “Shades of God”, “Icon” and “Draconian Times” helped define a genre. Some years ago, Paradise Lost were labelled by some as “the British Metallica”, and as the US mega-band attempted with 2008's “Death Magnetic”, “Tragic Idol” represents a back-to-basics approach. It is the sound of a band who know what they do best.
The album opens with a characteristic Gregor MacKintosh mournful guitar melody, while a haunting piano plays behind. As the track builds, vocalist Nick Holmes roars “Love fails today! Love fails today!” No tidings of joy here. The song progresses as a slow, almost hypnotic grind and it really does evoke the spirit of the band's early 90s era.
The slow grind continues into the start of “Crucify” before a stomping pace takes over driven by Adrian Erlandsson's drumming. Holmes' lyrics, as with most of the album, deal with the themes of honesty, repentance and death – the opening line of this track says exactly that. Then there is effectively a ballad. Another emotive guitar line leads into the clean sung “Fear of Impending Hell”, supported by Steve Edmondson's bass guitar. It builds to a chorus where the Metallica comparisons spring to mind vocally. There are some almost Pink Floyd-ian flourishes and it makes for a very atmospheric sound....full text
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