Paradise Lost - Gothic review


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Band: Paradise Lost
Album: Gothic
Release date: 1991

Disc I
01. Gothic
02. Dead Emotion
03. Shattered
04. Rapture
05. Eternal
06. Falling Forever
07. Angel Tears
08. Silent
09. The Painless
10. Desolate
11. Rotting Misery (Doom Dub) [2008 re-release bonus]
12. Breeding Fear (Demolition Dub) [2008 re-release bonus]

Disc II ["The Lost Tapes" live DVD] [2008 Re-release]
01. Intro
02. Dead Emotion
03. Gothic
04. Paradise Lost
05. Breeding Fear
06. Eternal
07. Shattered
08. Frozen Illusion
09. Angel Tears
10. Silent
11. The Painless

"Gothic"; well, if you ask for my opinion I will tell you that this is one of the purest and most influential releases of the 90s. Paradise Lost, touched by the hand of Goth, after a fabulous, primary though, doom/death metal debut album, "Lost Paradise", release during 1991 their second full-length album, "Gothic", the milestone of gothic metal (I'm talking about pure gothic metal, inner withering world, emotional decadence, intense dark/gloomy aesthetic, not nowadays' tendency of a band being considered as a gothic metal one if they use female vocals or they sound melancholic neither the bands talking about emotions of love etc deeply influenced by the dark wave and electro-gothic scene - dark wave and electro-gothic have nothing to do with gothic rock that planted the seeds of gothic metal through "Gothic" - of course gothic metal nowadays has progressed since then and moves in more "commercial" soundscapes). Some people will disagree with me by saying that "Gothic" is pure doom/death metal in a time (1990-1991) when doom/death was just an idea floating in the air; if you listen carefully to "Gothic" you'll see that although it steps on what began with "Lost Paradise" it is way different and more various, musically and emotionally, something new and deeply personal. The distortion of the guitars is softer, but still heavy, and The Sisters of Mercy influences on the guitar work are obvious, influences expressed through a heavier prism of course.

Paradise Lost add new elements to their sound, shy ideas of which existed on "Lost Paradise", new both for them and the whole metal scene (general experimentations existed of course in the recent past), showing that back in 1991 they were many years in front of their time; new elements just like operatic female vocals and orchestral pieces enriching their music making it sound way darker and gloomy, more emotional, more "Gothic" and they establish their guitar sound, a very unique and recognizable sound making you realize from the very first seconds of a song while listening to it that it is a Paradise Lost one. Fragile, esoteric, desperate, bleak lyrics interpreted by the hierophant of expression, Nick Holmes, whose grunts harmonize wonderfully with Greg Mackintosh's wailing guitar sound whilst the rhythm section, despite the bad production (better than "Lost Paradise" but still not good enough for such an emblem of the 90s' metal scene), evokes an obscure and nocturnal atmosphere through the whole duration of the album holding tight the compositions. "Gothic", in my opinion, is the purest gothic metal release, the album that started it all and will always stand on the top of the highest mountain unable to be reached by any other band of the genre (at the time gothic metal was something still unknown, yet this doesn't mean that "gothic" isn't gothic metal - don't forget that Bathory back in the 80s were not considered as a black metal band since this term was existing only on Venom's second album…) Goth bless you…

The album opens with "Gothic" with the guitars evoking a dark feeling in the air whilst Nick Holmes' grunts make the whole atmosphere more intense expressing in an utterly descriptive way the mourning lyrics as some female vocals add an ethereal sense to the song at times. An inspired orchestral piece escalates the emotional charge of the song which continues with Holmes' voice harmonizing wonderfully with the bleeding guitars leading to "Dead Emotion". Wonderful guitar riffing and a rhythm section that creates unbreakable walls of sound pave the way for Holmes' descriptive interpretation grunting from the core of his soul. For one more time. For one more time the orchestral pieces make the atmosphere even darker while Mackintosh's guitar work is as always fabulous and deeply inspired.

The album continues with "Shattered" in which Holmes experiments in an Andrew Eldritch way (The Sisters of Mercy), a way of singing, at a primary phase though, that would haunt all the bands of the gothic metal scene in the forthcoming future. The guitars paint the soundscape with bleak colors being as always high-quality and inspired. Mourning guitar riffing opens the following composition, "Rapture" to slowly turn into an emotional outburst with Holmes grunting in a desperate and full of anger way; hopeless lyrics being interpreted in an utterly expressive way as the guitar riffing evokes and emotionally fortified atmosphere form another wonderful song. A composition that left me speechless the first time I listened to it, "Eternal", follows - somehow through all these years it keeps on making me shiver while listening to it! Gothic rock inspired guitar chords evoking an intense gloomy feeling in the air, a rhythm section that exudes despair and suffocation and a Nick Holmes grunting as never before evoking visions of bleakness, withering soundscapes that slowly turn to shattered landscapes where "tragedy has overrun since birth" form the quintessence of bleak emotions.

"Gothic" flows wonderfully with "Falling Forever" in which the guitar riffing and solos create the ideal atmosphere for Holmes' interpretation expressing the mourning lyrics in an utterly descriptive and you feel like "falling forever". An inspired instrumental piece with weeping guitars and a nocturnal rhythm section, "Angel Tears", continues the album showing that sometimes music can tell much more than words. A desperate grunt from Holmes' throat opens the following composition, "Silent", a wonderful doom/death song with expressive desperate grunts and the ideal musical background evoking a drowning atmosphere in the air. Well, a deeply influential song for the "beauty and the beast" metal genre with male grunts and ethereal female vocals, "The Painless", follows. The guitar work, riffing and solo ideas, are stunning and the dialogue-singing part between Holmes and Sarah Marrion is utterly descriptive, a part of a song that would blossom through Theatre of Tragedy's first releases in its most poetic and expressive form and other bands like Tristania etc. "Gothic" ends with an imposing dark orchestral piece evoking nightly visions of bleakness, "Desolate", ending the album in an appropriate intense way.

"Gothic" definitely deserves a 10 for many reasons: for the utterly inspired ideas, for the unique dark/gloomy atmosphere evoked mainly by the guitars, for introducing to the metal scene important innovations, for setting the foundations for a new genre, gothic metal and for the deeply influential role it played in the 90s haunting the dark scene of metal to mention a few. If those reasons are not enough for making an album a masterpiece, then which are?


Written on 24.10.2004 by "It is myself I have never met, whose face is pasted on the underside of my mind."


Comments: 5   Visited by: 131 users
19.02.2008 - 01:59
it is an album that really offer a rule for the bands of Gothic metal that emerged later. The use of simple musical elements got rich later, offering the perfect cradle for the mixtures and the hybrids that make so plural to today's Gothic. But it is necessary to stand out that it is certain, Paradise Lost it is one of the parents of the Gothic metal
05.06.2008 - 07:48
Liver Failure
i really didnt like this album.. almost every song is annoying (the solos, the keyboard, the vocals).., the songs seems to go nowhere, i think this album is ONLY for gothic metal fans, othewise its not enjoyable.
oh.. and ''Rapture'' is the best track.

member of the true crusade against old school heavy metal, early 80s thrash, NWOBHM, traditional doom, first and second wave black metal, old school death metal, US power metal, 70s prog rock and atmospheric doomsludgestoner. o/
01.04.2009 - 18:09
Good album from PL but not their best. surely it is something special for the Gothic metal...
Υou've sold your human essence to the cold world of dead and empty things... You're SOLD!
22.12.2009 - 02:16
Account deleted
For me this is not a gothic metal album, it has just 2 gothiclike songs and other songs are really Doom Metal. and yes songs with female vocals seems a little gothic and not a pure gothic just a gothic doom. but all in all this is a Doom album not gothic.
16.01.2016 - 21:41
Old Nick
Great review! The Sisters of Mercy influence that you picked up is spot on. Back in the day this album was considered a sell-out by metal fans (yes it's true) after the brutal Lost Paradise album. The same goes for other masterpieces which were much later recognised for their greatness (South of Heaven by Slayer and Somewhere in Time by Iron Maiden are the most prominent examples). Gothic is a great album, maybe not their greatest, but definitely hugely influential.
on and on south of heaven


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