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 Pain2002 MNRK Music Group
by Mike Unearth
The UK's Paradise Lost, once among the kings of Gothic Doom metal, have apparently evolved (devolved) into one of the serfs of Goth-Pop.Sure, some would argue that the quintet have always "stayed true" and "maintained their dark dreary sound", but the music to be found on the band's latest release 'Symbol of Life', no matter how it is labeled, analyzed, sliced and diced, is just not very entertaining.Nu-GothMetal is the only apt description I can produce for this stuff.Generic and derivative, the material here is very monotonous and uninteresting, with "creepy" sound effects, eerie echoes, organs, piano intros --it's just all been done so many times before by so many other bands - and this makes 'Symbol of Life' a hard listen from the start.No offense, but these guys somehow make bands like Type O Negative and White Zombie look like songwriting geniuses. "Isolate" and "Erased," the first two tracks here, boringly blend into each other, sharing equally dull beats, sparse, predictable keyboards and hokey guitar riffs. Vocalist Nick Holmes attempts to sound dark and spooky, but he ends up sounding like a third-rate, unconvincing Peter Steele impersonator.The band tries really hard to be creepy with some quiet piano interludes and "Who's there" whispers, etc., but it's just not working.I suppose these two particular ditties were probably put first because they are the most "radio" sounding tracks. Oh well, on to the next track. "Two Worlds" is a little heavier at first, and seems to be more on the metal side of the musical spectrum, but it falls back into predictability very quickly.The singing parts on this track are particularly bad, they kind of make me cringe with their Nu metal "edge" and are just very silly.To top it all off, the only half decent riff in the song is completely swallowed up by a cheesy keyboard effect."Pray Nightfall" is another song that starts off promisingly enough, with some interesting guitar harmonies and airy female vocals... and needs only a few seconds to deteriorate once Holmes starts singing, this time in a dirty, almost Southern drawl. This song is a real yawnfest, possessing unexciting song structures and more boring drum patterns. "Primal" gives us another "creepy" intro and some distant, distorted vocals, but not a lot more, and "Perfect Mask" sounds like a watered down White Zombie, so it's on to the next two selections; "Mystify" and"No Celebration." These two songs do have a better overall mix of keyboard parts and wailing, dreary riffs, and the more subdued singing and better written parts make this pair of tunes the two best tracks on the entire album, if I were forced to choose.Not to say these songs were particularly interesting or enjoyable, just put together better.With the following song "Self-Obsessed", the band once again dips into familiar waters, and this is yet another Goth Rock 101 number, treating the listener to the same monotony of the earliertracks.Next it's on to the album's title track "Symbol of Life".If anything can be said about this number, it is definitely the most "ambient" track on the CD, lots of echo on the vocals, ominous keyboards, sparse drums and the like.At least this one is a bit different than the rest of the stuff on the CD, but it still leaves me with an empty feeling as a listener. "Channel For the Pain" is by far the most raw and metal track to be found on 'Symbol of Life,' and it comes as no surprise that the heaviest track ended up last on the disc.Regardless, it is a bit out of the ordinary; this one even hearkens back a bit to the days of Paradise Lost past, sounding like an offering from one of their "mid-period" albums of the mid-Nineties.The guitar tone seems more true and the drumming a bit more inspired, and I guess if there had to be a fitting endcap to this release, why not this oneIt seems that no song is really THAT much better than any other song here, or maybe it's just that none of the songs really hold any interest or stay in the heads of the listeners once the CD leaves the tray. Bottom Line: Boring, forgettable Goth Rock. The production is crisp and clean, and is pretty much the only redeeming quality of this record, but that's not enough to warrant any recommendation on my part. If you are into this genre of music, there are a thousand other albums you could (and should) pursue before you feel the need to resort to this inferior and dull release.
1 commentPost Comment
Zane_ 9/14/2004 1:14:27 PM
Accurate rating. So sad that they've sunk from Gothic to this.