From the liner notes: “In 2006 Paradise Lost signed a worldwide deal with Century Media Records and started working on something new that will soon become another classic: “In Requiem”. Produced by Rhys Fulber (Fear Factory) and mixed by Mike Frazer (AC/DC, Aerosmith, Metallica).
This is the first Paradise Lost album that I’ve listened to since 1991’s classic second studio album Gothic, a cassette that I literally wore out from listening to it over and over again, and on first listening I was really quite disappointed. “When did Paradise Lost become a pop band?!” I exclaimed on first listening.
In Requiem is studio album number eleven and, well, they’ve changed. Which isn’t surprising really given that 16 years and 8 studio albums separate the two. I had to remember that I’ve changed somewhat in that time too, from a naïve and timid undergraduate in 1991 to a married, ordained, father-of-three in 2007.
Maybe I needed to distance myself from the memories and emotions that I have wrapped up in Gothic and approach this as from essentially another band. I don’t have the benefit of hearing the path that Paradise Lost have taken in the intervening decade and a half.
The liner notes from this preview copy of the album quotes lead guitarist Greg Mackintosh talking about this album,
Musically: In Requiem is about finding the balance between brutality and empathy, between horror and beauty. Neither a celebration nor a lamentation. Simply the emotions that arise, being surrounded by life and death.
This is a solid album. It sounds like an eleventh album: more mature, more polished than Gothic.
It also feels less, well… gothic. It sounds brighter and more hopeful. To me it sits a lot closer to beauty than horror, using Macintosh’s comparison. It’s certainly very melodic, the kind of album that I could let my mum listen to quite easily (is that really the criteria for a great metal album?). It reminds me of the likes of Lacuna Coil, Evanescence, and Nightwish, Bands that probably list genre pioneers Paradise Lost themselves as an influence. As a result somehow this album sounds less distinctive and a little more generic.
The album opener “Never for the damned” begins slowly, a riff grows, like the sun dawning on an epic landscape. This is an album that sounds big; the songs feel as though they come from somewhere deeper, as though there is a history to them. Which fits with Nick Holmes’ writing style: he usually writes a lot more lyrics and then cuts them back to the key phrases to fit the melody, leaving them feel much more cryptic and epic.
It’s difficult for me at this point to pick out a stand-out track. I suspect that this is an album that will grow on me more as times goes on. For me this is one of those albums that works best as an album, listened from start to finish as one body of work. And that, for me is a good thing. I never really was a fan of singles for the sake of singles.
I have to admit that my initial impression was wrong. This is a great album. Whether it becomes regarded as “another classic” remains to be seen, but it probably deserves to be. There really isn’t one weak track on it.
I’m glad I stuck with it. It was one of those albums that I just kept coming back to. Just one more listen. And another and… ah! Now I get it. I like albums that you have to work at to get inside. Brilliant!
Review score: 90%
Official video for the first single from this album, “The Enemy”. Not a particularly cheery video, to be honest.
Nick Holmes comments on the track: “Nothing to do with young guys in different uniforms killing each other. In this song I was thinking about different levels of hatred, and if a dislike for someone can actually be classed as hatred. Also how people can forgive people after unspeakable acts, yet other people become estranged over very small arguments.”