HOW THE MODERN DOOM ARCHITECTS PULLED A DEPECHE MODE AND BECAME THE EPITOME OF GOTHIC COOL
‘ABANDON ALL doom, ye who enter here,’ should have been the advisory sticker that accompanied Paradise Lost’s sixth studio outing. By 1997, the West Yorkshire outfit were tipped as Europe’s answer to Metallica, having redefined the parameters of doomy death metal in their beginnings and tapped into a larger audience with the streamlined gothic metal of fifth album, Draconian Times. History might have stopped there. Instead, they bought a keyboard and created a shivering masterpiece influenced by goth rockers The Sisters Of Mercy.
Those that could not hear below the velvety surface accused them of turning their backs on metal, but One Second still boasted a dark heart. Gone was the inferno of raging guitars, replaced with white-hot anthemic synths that burned malevolently. Meanwhile, Nick Holmes’ gruff vocals had smoothed into a death rattle croon that diarised the maladies of withering prostitutes (Lydia) and even a school shooting (Another Day).
The naysayers hushed up when it cracked the charts across Europe and propelled Paradise Lost to bigger stages, bigger sounds, and a whole new era. 20 years on, Nick Holmes looks back on the synths, the backlash, and the haircuts…
WHAT SPARKED SUCH A RADICAL SHIFT IN STYLES?
NICK HOLMES (VOCALS):“WE had spent about five years straight away from home, touring Icon and Draconian times. after doing the same thing, day in, day out, we wanted a change of scenery, so to speak.then Gregor [Mackintosh, guitars/synths] bought this Ensoniq ASR-10 keyboard, which you loaded sounds on with floppy disks, and that was it! We thought,‘if we’re going to do this, then let’s make the best songs we can and if people don’t like it, fuck it!’”
WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER FROM RECORDING THE ALBUM?
“We recorded in a bunch of different places so there was a lot of moving around.we briefly recorded at Rockfield Studios in Wales, but a lot of the gear wasn’t working at the time.things like one of the channels wouldn’t be working on the mixing desk and then when they lifted the console off there was a mouse running through it! To be honest, most of my memories from Rockfield are playing Command & Conquer!”
HOW DID IT FEEL WHEN PEOPLE ACCUSED YOU OF TURNING YOUR BACK ON METAL?
“It was laughable! Nearly every interview began with the question,‘why did you cut your hair?’ I’m not lying, we did probably hundreds of interviews and 95% of them started with that question! To me, the hair thing always seemed a bit ridiculous and of course now no-one gives a fuck what hairstyle you have. But at that time it was a big deal. I think the combination of all these changes was just too much for people to handle!”
DID YOU FEEL VINDICATED WHEN THE ALBUM WAS A SUCCESS?
“I expected a lot more flak because I always was that little death metal guy that whinges when bands change! We got more of an alternative audience and we were on the cover of goth magazines. I wasn’t 100% comfortable with that because the metal scene is where I came from as a kid. But it’s okay to change. I never regret anything we do because each album represents where you are at the time, and that’s where we were.”
“THERE WAS A MOUSE RUNNING THROUGH THE MIXING DESK!”