Review: Paradise Lost “Drown in Darkness – The Early Demos” [Century Media Records]

Review: Paradise Lost “Drown in Darkness – The Early Demos” [Century Media Records]

- in Reviews
Score 73%
Summary
Suffocating in the blackened depths
73 %
User Rating : 4.5 (2 votes)
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While I’ll clearly call myself a Paradise Lost fan, Drown in Darkness – The Early Demos wasn’t something I was necessarily looking forward to. Lost Paradise still ranks as the worst album out of the band’s early five records and needless to say, my first impression of this compilation wasn’t extremely positive either. Some years later (and wiser, of course) I had decided to re-try it because, well, many things are worth trying more than once… right?!

I’m glad that I did. For starters, basically all the songs sound fairly better produced than what you’ve come across on Lost Paradise and that’s an obvious advantage. Sure, “Morbid Existence” is a clear exception, which does sound like a typical poor demo quality-wise, but with some actual (rotten) meat attached to the guitars, Greg and Aaron’s riffs hit far more effective than they did on the debut. Like beasts sneaking upon their prey at a full moon night, the guitars crawl onward with malice, while the faster riffs display a variety of influences. The rousing tremolos of “Our Savior” would have fit perfectly fine on Death’s Leprosy and “Nuclear Abomination” gets surprisingly close to Bolt Thrower’s early (meaning: 80’s) era, thanks to its blistering riffing and…wait for it – blastbeats sections! “Paradise Lost” grooves onward thanks to those crushing power chords, not unlike that of early Celtic Frost, while the ghastly doom/death combo of “Frozen Illusion” feels like I’ve entered a Halloween party where Death, Black Sabbath and Cathedral would jam together to scare away the weak…who knew morbidity could sound so appealing?

Although this compilation highlights Paradise Lost’s death metal roots, the mood already feels uncanny. Nick Holmes sounds absolutely monstrous on these studio tunes and relies on thick, deep grunts that are unlike the recognizable growls we’ve got to hear on the first two records. Greg himself wasn’t exactly the guitar wizard he’d be in the years ahead, yet with a minimum amount of skills to rely on, even he manages to add some black magic to these compositions. Hearing the band’s self-titled track couldn’t be a better example of an actual improved version when compared to the debut version – here it evokes a strong feeling of impending doom, as it sounds like Greg tried to recapture the essence of his favorite horror movies through some eerie bended riffing and evocative leads. The lyrics also work and the line ”not knowing this place as the darkness falls above’’ sums up the general mood of this album quite well.

The live tracks that also appear on studio albums aren’t that different, even if Nick Holmes sounds pretty comical in between; like when it sounds as if he’s about to swallow the microphone before “Our Saviour” starts, or once he claims that that playing fast metal is for wimps. “Plains of Desolation” and “Nuclear Abomination” have never appeared on any studio recordings and I think it’s too bad as far as the latter is concerned. As I had already mentioned, it’s basically Paradise Lost channeling Bolt Thrower – certainly worth hearing for any early death metal fan if you’d ask me.

Fans who got to love Paradise Lost for their melancholic beauty will probably find this too crude and raw for its own good, but personally I find Drown in Darkness – The Early Demos to be surprisingly enjoyable and that’s good enough for me.

Release date: May 22nd, 2009

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