Paradise Lost - Symbol Of Life review


392 users:
Band: Paradise Lost
Album: Symbol Of Life
Release date: 2002

01. Isolate
02. Erased
03. Two Worlds
04. Pray Nightfall
05. Primal
06. Perfect Mask
07. Mystify
08. No Celebration
09. Self-Obsessed
10. Symbol Of Life
11. Channel For The Pain
12. Xavier [Dead Can Dance cover] [bonus]
13. Small Town Boy [Bronski Beat cover] [bonus]

When a band decides to change direction in musical style, fans may sometimes cry 'sellout!? and refuse to give the new music a chance.

For a band like England's Paradise Lost, that possibility has appeared on more than one occasion, as they are definitely a band of much change.

Their first release, Lost Paradise, in 1990 revolutionized what would become known as ?doom metal". The slow, trudging dirges generated a large underground following for then-teenagers Nick Holmes [vocals], Greg Mackintosh [guitar], Aaron Aedy [guitar], Stephen Edmondson [bass] and Matthew Archer [drums].

Following Gothic in 1991, the band was signed to larger label Metal Blade Records in 1992 and released their most streamlined effort to date, Shades of God. The largest change thus far for the band, however, would occur in 1995 with the release of Draconian Times, their fifth LP. With polish, professionalism and a slicker rhythm section courtesy of new drummer Lee Morris, Draconian Times is still considered by fans as the bands finest hour.

The point where the story begins to change is when, in 1997, the band releases One Second. With shorn locks and electronic elements in tow, the bands numerous fans begin to divide.

But the biggest change in the band's history would not take place until two years later with their sixth studio release, Host. An album virtually dismissed by many fans and critics, the electronic elements apparent in One Second were increased by 10. In what some considered to be a case of damage control, the band would release are more rock-oriented effort two years later in Believe in Nothing. While better received than Host, many considered it to be a case of too little, too late.

Which brings us only one year ahead to the release of Paradise Lost's ninth LP, Symbol of Life. While the band has not abandoned the electronics that have been apparent in their sound since 1997, they have put together possibly the most well-rounded album since that most lauded of their works, Draconian Times. Mind you, I am not comparing Symbol of Life to Draconian Times. While Holmes? voice has not been quite so penetrating and assertive, Mackintosh's writing so fierce and determined since that opus, they are two completely different albums. If a comparison need be made, it would be more appropriate to consider this something of a spiritual successor to One Second.

Those familiar with producer Rhys Fulber will feel his presence almost immediately in opener 'Isolate'. Most recognized for his work with Fear Factory, Fulber's style has a clean, industrial edge to it. Here, he is able to preserve a more natural vibe as well.

Standout tracks include 'Erased', the first single, with guest vocals by Joanna Stevens, 'Two Worlds', one of the album's most aggressive tracks with vocal assistance courtesy of Canadian musical madman Devin Townsend, the catchy and absorbing 'Mystify', and the fast-paced and frenetic 'Channel for the Pain'.

On a whole, this is definitely Paradise Lost's most successful attempt at creating a cohesive, well polished release since their work in the mid-1990s. Some ?old skool? fans might still poo-poo away the electronic presence here but new fans, and those more open and accepting of change, will surely eat this up.

Written by John P. Dunphy | 02.09.2003


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

Guest review by
Even though not many will agree with this statement, "Symbol Of Life" is, to me, Paradise Lost's best album. I could go back in their career and pick albums with distinct characteristics that do, most definitely, stand on their own as solid and original works, but that don't quite effectively transmit to me the sad atmosphere their simple song writing can bring as well as "Symbol Of Life" does. I won't say this one represents everything Paradise Lost has done in their career, because it doesn't, but it sure is their most varied and multi layered album - whether you like this sound or not is a different subject. The truth is that, even though it is also their heaviest album since "Draconian Times" (songs like "Two Worlds," "Self-Obsessed," or "Channel For The Pain" prove it), it is still very much dependent of the electronic influences and generally much mellower rockish style of "One Second" and "Host."

published 21.08.2006 | Comments (7)

Guest review by
I don't know what they wanted to do, but they made an album with a sound similar to some groups that do Nu-Metal or mix Metal with electronic music, like Rammstein. It is definitely a less Metal sound than in their previous releases, this sounds more Rock than Metal. However, I can say that the vocals are still good and there are good guitar riffs, but it's fucked by the fucking electronic ambient. When we listen to this album, we'll think that we're in space or in a videogame like The Matrix...

published 01.10.2006 | Comments (22)


Comments: 2   Visited by: 46 users
14.05.2009 - 16:40
Nice review! On the point!
Υou've sold your human essence to the cold world of dead and empty things... You're SOLD!
22.12.2009 - 01:06
Account deleted
Nicest review btw these 3 reviews is this one I think. perfect but maybe with his own opinion.

Hits total: 3876 | This month: 26