On their underground journey through the metal zones, they’ve had major success and been hugely influential along the way.
Where to start when delving into the catalogue of the most consistently successful British metal band of the past 30 years.
Is this the most miserable band in the world?’ ran the headline of one early magazine article on Paradise Lost. The answer was no. Well, not quite.
The image of dour, unsmiling northerners is something that Paradise Lost themselves have done little to dispel, and it’s one that has served them well throughout a career that saw them become the most consistently successful British metal band of the past 30 years. During that time they’ve gone from purveyors of guttural extreme metal to goth-metal standard bearers to their current incarnation as a stately hybrid of both. Their influence has been immense, even if they’ve never quite been properly acknowledged as the groundbreaking band they are.
When Paradise Lost crawled out of Halifax at the tail end of the 1980s, the British metal underground was still playing catch-up with the thrash scene that had broken earlier in that decade.
With their debut album, Lost Paradise, they offered something different – a doomy, dirgey, goth-tinged noise that presented a distinctly European take on the extreme metal movement then emerging in the US. Alongside such fellow Peaceville Records acts/kindred spirits as Anathema and My Dying Bride, they drew up a road map that would show the way forward for the homegrown underground scene.
By the mid-90s, that underground scene was already too small for Paradise Lost. Their 1995 album Draconian Times was a bold tilt at the mainstream – a big-budget metal album that possessed an ambition they’d hinted at a few years earlier. It worked, too, breaking into the Top 20 and turning the band into festival headliners in mainland Europe, long a PL stronghold.
But Draconian Times also marked the end of Paradise Lost’s first chapter. With their next album, 1997’s One Second, they brought their goth influences to the fore, leaning increasingly heavily on Depeche Mode-style electronics and ditching the last vestiges of their extreme metal past. It was a brave move, and an initially successful one, but personal problems around the time of 2001’s sub-par Believe In Nothing derailed the band’s forward momentum.
Since the mid-00s, Paradise Lost have gradually drifted back towards their metal roots, without ever abandoning their forward-looking edge. Today they occupy a position as unlikely elder statesman of goth-metal, cited as an influence by the likes of Nightwish, H.I.M. and Lacuna Coil.
Paradise Lost: the most consistently successful British goth metal bandof the past 30 years.