Thursday, 15 October 2009

Album Review: Paradise Lost - Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us.

One of the most important and influential English bands of the last 20 years, Paradise Lost return with their 12th studio album: Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us, a fitting title in that the bands numerous changes in musical directions have often divided the opinions of fans and critics alike. Faith Divides... however, sees a return to form for the band and continuing in their return to gothic metal, a genre they helped to define in the early 90’s.

Whilst the album starts out with choral singing it soon plunges in to Paradise’s signature doom laden, pounding guitars and by all means the opener, As Horizons End, immediately sets the tone for what is to come and as a fan of the band in my youth fills me with great hopes for this new offering from the Yorkshire lords of doom.

The next 50 minutes are a tour de force of everything that made Paradise Lost great in the early 90’s; Frailty starts out with a haunting intro of choral voice accompanied by melancholic guitar but then reveals itself to be one of the more punishing tracks on the album. The title track is a melodic opus showcasing Paradise Lost's ability to utilise synths, acoustic guitars and refined clean vocals to give more impact when Holmes guttural vocals kick in and when he screams “vanquish the pain” you really get the impression that even after all these long years, here is a man still with much on his heart. Universal Dream is one of the more up-tempo tracks on the album and lends a good counterbalance to the other, majority, slow paced doomy tracks.

Now, depending on which version of the album you buy, you’ll have a different number of tracks. The standard version has only 10 tracks and ends on In Truth, a song that finishes off this modern masterpiece well enough. However, if you have any of the bonus versions of the album (or bought it off iTunes like I have) you’ll have anywhere between 11 and 13 tracks. The iTunes version of the album comes with 2 bonus tracks: Cardinal Zero and Sons of Perdition. Cardinal... is a brutal romp, closer in style to the bands late 80’s death/doom style than their later gothic metal, whilst Sons… is a more rocky number and sounds like it could have fit in to the regular album, if they’d decided to have 11 tracks instead of 10.

As someone who was a big fan of Paradise Lost in the early 90’s and, like a lot of people, lost faith in them during their Depeche Mode sythrock period, I went in to this album with equal optimism and scepticism, but this is an album by a band who truly are back on the same form as when they were at their peak. Will Faith Divides Us... be mentioned in the same sentence as Gothic and Icon? Probably, but only time will tell. What I can tell you, however, is that this is definitely Paradise Lost's best album for a long time and certainly worth buying! Not convinced? Go and stream it on Spotify and discover for yourself!

Album rating: 9/10
For fans of: My Dying Bride, Anathema
Best tracks: I Remain, Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us, Universal Dream

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