Paradise Lost - Symbol Of Life review


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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]

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."

The problems with bands that try to blend a more alternative dimension with the primitive style they were first playing is that there tends to be out-of-place experimentalism and also they put the Metal part a bit on the side. While I don't think the first has ever happened with Paradise Lost, they have been taking the second close to borderline; and I can understand why they caused some negative impressions with their more die hard fans: they made a sudden departure from the heavy and rawer times of the early 90's. For this I think those albums were never appreciated to their full potential. "Symbol Of Life" may not be enough to put all the older fans listening to Paradise Lost again, but it may be enough to at least make some rediscover those albums.

On a technical level the performances are not very elaborated, but Nick Holmes good moment has to be mentioned. He's the best vocalist in the scene for many people, and that's no surprise, if you listen to this closely, he makes songs like "Pray Nightfall" or "Mystify" even more magical. He can sound sad even when he sings harsher, which is really difficult. The rest of the band gives what is required for this kind of music; it's mostly about creating the right atmosphere and they succeed. On top of everything the production is flawless and crystal clear.

"Symbol Of Life" is a very consistent album and all songs have something to offer to the listener. It's not the comeback some fans are anxious for (and that may never come…), it doesn't have the gloomy vibe they used to create, it's not particularly slow, it is still full of electronic ambience, but I think everyone will agree, though, that while the previous three records didn't stand a chance against "Gothic," "Draconian Times" and so on, this one does, and that's something to be pleased with.

Written by Passenger | 21.08.2006


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
John P. Dunphy
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 , Greg Mackintosh , Aaron Aedy , Stephen Edmondson and Matthew Archer .

published 02.09.2003 | Comments (2)

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: 7   Visited by: 40 users
24.08.2006 - 05:48
Very good review - I don't think it's Paradise Lost's best album, but I do agree with a few of the points you made. Symbol Of Life is classy, dark and as you said, "their most varied and multi-layered album". I think Pray Nightfall and the title track Symbol Of Life are the best songs here.
24.08.2006 - 16:38
Lost To Apathy
Thanks, it's good to hear a positive opinion from a long time Paradise Lost fan.
You don't make up for your sins in church. You do it in the streets. You do it at home. The rest is bullshit and you know it ~ Mean Streets
11.02.2008 - 20:44
I R Serious Cat
Someone who agrees with me! This, along with One Second, are PL's best albums.
"Nobody wants to be the weird kid, you just end up being the weird kid. You don't know how you ended up getting there" - Rob Zombie My dA, mainly photography, go check it out!
20.02.2008 - 01:20
Good Review-
but I think between this Tracks,Pray Nightfall was more encouragable...
22.12.2009 - 00:53
Account deleted
Nice review, but you have said "He's the best vocalist in the scene for many people", really dont sure about it.
22.12.2009 - 01:02
Darkside Momo
Sure Nick Holmes ISN'T the best vocalist ever. But he IS a part of Paradise Lost's identity, so that's OK.
Anyway, I really like this album, and while it's not their best, it certainly is a good one!

"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you" - Ray Bradbury

"I've lost too many years now
I'm stealing back my soul
I'm awake now"
Abney Park (Letter Between A Little Boy & Himself As An Adult)
24.12.2009 - 03:54
Account deleted
03. Two Worlds
04. Pray Nigh
12. Xavier [bonus]tfall

just liked these songs.

9.0 ? I have to give 20 to Draconian Times when I compare this album with it if this album deserves 9.

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