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Paradise Lost – At the Mill

Paradise Lost
At the Mill
by Andrew Graham at 21 September 2021, 9:11 PM

Yet another lockdown project! I would be surprised if I found any band that could claim to have been anything but absolutely infuriated by suddenly being unable to perform live music! Many bands found ways around this. SEPULTURA (I reviewed their lockdown anti-boredom project last week) embarked on a series of online collaborations which in turn became an album of its own. A similar beast, PARADISE LOST’S At The Mill is a live performance, albeit without an audience. It’s difficult not to notice the lack of that special vibe one finds at a metal concert. Nonetheless, even given this fact what is on display is PARADISE LOST at the top of their game.

Their music and live presence has lost none of its potency over the years – indeed, this performance just makes the listener gag for the opportunity for live music all the more! All eras are represented here, so indeed it works well as a kind of compilation album – a nice introduction to more casual listeners who have never properly given PARADISE LOST the attention they deserve. Should you fit into that category, read on dear metalhead!

There’s a pretty good spread of material over the course of their long career. “Fall From Grace”, “Ghosts”, and “Darker Thoughts” from Obsidian (2020) are a trio of rich and complex songs, performed with great care and attention to detail, particularly with Nick’s vocal delivery. “Blood And Chaos”, from 2017’s Medusa, receives similar care. Every chug and melody is perfectly timed and never becomes overburdened by its own content. Sometimes one forgets this is (at least technically) a live album, the production is so proficient. “No Hope In Sight” and “Beneath Broken Earth”, from The Plague Within (2015) chug along in a timely and tasty fashion. With the latter almost harking back to the old-school death-doom style, complete with super-deep and throaty bass guitar, the nostalgia is palpable – and they’re clearly loving every moment of it!

“Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us”, from the 2009 album of the same name, is another recent(ish) classic that gets royal treatment, with especially satisfying backing vocals on the chorus. Going a little farther back, In Requiem’s “The Enemy” and “Requiem” pick up the tempo a bit, losing none of the doomy vibe and energy – right down to the choral passages, which of course add a bit of a gothic atmosphere. “So Much Is Lost” (Host, 1999), and indeed the whole record, divides fans of the band. For my money, it reminds me very strongly of DEPECHE MODE’S mid-nineties output – electronic yet darkly gothic. This continues with “One Second”, of the 1997 album of the same name, which fills the soundscape just as effectively as the album original. Layers upon layers fill the ears in the kind of ecstasy that electronic music specialises in. As we slide further back into the band’s distant past, “Shadowkings” alone highlights Draconian Times (1995), whom many fans consider to be their best album – it’s certainly their most famous!

“Widow”, which opens the album, and “Embers Fire” (Icon, 1993) reflect on just how much distance this band has covered over the course of their over 30-year career. Total classic “As I Die” (Shades Of God, 1992) sounds every bit as epic as it once did, aging extremely well and given wonderful treatment (and a wee bit of a facelift!) Though not last in setlist, it seems fitting that we end with “Gothic” (1991). What needs to be said about this? It’s classic, iconic, PARADISE LOST and is delivered flawlessly and with real feeling – no potency has been lost over the course of a career spanning over thirty years.

Some might argue that projects of this kind are really just for the hardcore nerds and frothing at the mouth fans. I’m not so convinced in this case. The songs here are wonderfully delivered and the cumulative effect is almost as good as actually being there – there’s no substitute for live concerts of course, but it’s a respectable effort nonetheless! Essential listening for the hardcore PARADISE LOST fans, and something interesting for those perhaps a little unfamiliar with the bulk of their back-catalogue.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 8


4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Widow
2. Fall From Grace
3. Blood And Chaos
4. Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us
5. Gothic
6. Shadowkings
7. One Second
8. Ghosts
9. The Enemy
10. As I Die
11. Requiem
12. No Hope In Sight
13. Embers Fire
14. Beneath Broken Earth
15. So Much Is Lost
16. Darker Thoughts
Lineup:
Nick Holmes – Vocals
Greg Mackintosh – Lead guitar
Aaron Aedy – Rhythm guitar
Steve Edmondson – Bass
Waltteri Väyrynen – Drums
Record Label: Nuclear Blast
     


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