Album Review: Paradise Lost – Tragic Idol
Posted by Reggie
After 22 years (since their first release) and 13 studio albums later, what could I possibly say about the new Paradise Lost album, Tragic Idol? For starters it is as obscure and bursting with as much impending doom as their earliest work. Not so much on the gothic side of the genre, but more on the doom metal side. Continuing on with their latest trend (three albums or so), Paradise Lost have again harnessed despondency from the doom gods and created some of the heaviest music of their career. Yet, they still add melancholic melodies that define the genre they helped expand so many years ago. The new album is more or less a continuation of where Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us left off, however, taking their dejection even further away from the synthesized melodies they have used in the past. Tragic Idol is stripped down metal with no filler!
Nick Holmes’ vocals further explore the grunting-style he started with two decade ago. He surely hasn’t lost that ability, thankfully. There are bits of cleanliness here and there (Tragic Idol, Fear of Impending Hell), but mostly this is honest to goodness (no pun intended) doom metal. If Paradise Lost is trying to make a statement about their return to roots, Tragic Idol should expunge any doubt about the band’s current status as doom gods.
You don’t have to read between the lines to figure out their disconsolate subject-matter. The song titles alone speak volumes. With tracks like Honesty in Death, Fear of Impending Hell (my favorite song title ever), and The Glorious End, there is no question that Paradise Lost writing habits put forth much effort in storytelling especially in the area of death and solitude. For example, here is an excerpt from The Glorious End:
Faithless unrest, only the end we can see
Fading distress all innocence we conceive
Faithless martyrs now at the end we only pretend we can see
Fading darker now at the end the death you intended will be
Paradise Lost has a way of creating melodies that promote a certain level of blackness, but you never really feel down or depressed after listening. Not entirely anyway. The subject-matter is often grim, but the music seems to counterbalance this. I think it’s worthy to note that after all these years, Paradise Lost has remained a very solid group; only losing/replacing drummers over the years. I think this is a contributing factor that helps them achieve a precise doom metal style that separates them from others within their genre. They haven’t had a whole lot of outside influence. That statement doesn’t explain the album, Host, but whatever…I still liked it.
As far as surprises, Tragic Idol is not. I don’t mean that in a negative way. Based on the last few albums, I think we could assume this one was going to be as heavy, if not heavier. I think relief is more the appropriate word; relieved that they made another heavy album. What Tragic Idol is, is a great doom metal album. Greg Mackintosh’s solemn melodies prevent the complete and total feeling of impending doom. I think it’s what makes Paradise Lost as successful as they are.
At just about 46 minutes, Tragic Idol is enough to get a doom metal fix. Anything longer would probably be too much to handle all the way through and anything less is…well, not enough. Nick Holmes and crew have made another quality doom metal album worthy of high praise.