PARADISE LOST – TRAGIC IDOL
Label: (Century Media)
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Paradise Lost… A band that would give John Milton a run for his money, just by the sheer catchiness of the brand of doom they sport. Taking the reins from early British doom metal bands like Witchfinder General and likes, they usher in an age of catchy and mainstreamish doom alongside colleagues Anathema and My Dying Bride.
The band was born in Halifax, West Yorkshire, nearly a quarter century hence. The line-up of vocalist Nick Holmes, guitarists Greg Mackintosh and Aaron Aedy along with bassist Steve Edmondson, have remained a stalwart force. Only the drum seat has had a revolving door, much as the band’s music has ebbed and flowed in genre and potency.
The quintet’s early and mid 90’s releases, Icon and Draconian Times were some of the finest doom-centric albums to have graced our ears, instantly shooting them to critical acclaim and deserved fame. Fame was short-lived, for they have had this unassuming ability to change their style every two years, successfully alienating their fans to a great extent. Jumping from being downright doom laden to gothic, to electro – synth and ended up sounding like Dépêche Mode. They sure had their share of fun experimenting. However, in 2005, they had planned to reclaim their old glory by dishing out albums imitating their old selves, but none of them had even come close, except for their last release Faith Divides Us.. Death Unites Us.
Come 2012 and we have Paradise Lost taking another shot at glory with Tragic Idol. The album title probably sums up their entire discography wherein they hit gold with the first few albums, went wayward with the next few and then tried to get back there again, failing miserably all the while. Overall the album is slightly better than their previous release, but just like the other album, this falls short by a considerable extent. Nick Holmes is nonetheless spot on with his coarse cleans and a pretty decent vocal range. At different parts of a few songs he does come out with his trademark baritone clean vocals, which is even cooler, like it is in the title track.
Vallenfyre front-man and lead guitarist Greg Mackintosh, who along with Holmes is the band’s principal songwriter, does his bit, playing ‘some’ very catchy and memorable riffs with precision. Notice my emphasis on the word ‘Some’? For the album mostly contains riffs that you’ve heard before or which aren’t that remarkable to gain neither your precious memory space nor your patronage. It’s a let-down; because Paradise Lost’s iconic albums were famed for their doomy yet incredibly catchy riffing. For instance, I can still recollect the opening riff of “Hallowed Land” of Draconian Times yet remember nothing from their albums after that.
Tragic Idol does have some good tracks. First are the dual melodic yet somber tracks “Fear of Impending Hell” and “Honesty in Death”. The former features some great cleans from Nick Holme’s (the man doesn’t age or what? He is that good), acoustic guitars, and has that bleak and hopeless future that the song seems to put forward. The latter is something that seems straight off Draconian Times (Oh that catchy main riff!). If only the album was filled with similar songs… Also worth a mention is the closing track, “The Glorious End” which does sound glorious at moments, as its name suggests.
I am not even remotely stating that the album is bad by any means; it is just that I find it lacking something really crucial. Maybe it’s those epic atmospheres of gloom and doom that the band seemed to conjure out of thin air, making it seem effortless, contrary to what they are doing right now. The album in the end sounds too forced, lacking in luster as it was for its immediate predecessor albums. Yet I can’t help but to hope that they still have it in them to reclaim lost ground: The apostles of doom they once were! For now Tragic Idol might be more aptly named, Tragic Idle.