Paradise Lost

Live at 1720

Downtown Los Angeles, CA

October 19th, 2018

Review and photos by Travis Baumann

Paradise Lost are one of the crucial pioneers of gothic metal and were instrumental in the foundations of the doom and death metal sub-genres. They are celebrating their 30th anniversary with an extensive tour and a subsequent set list to match.

Paradise Lost's back catalog is extremely varied when looking back over their long career with albums ranging from harsh death metal in style to more synth-layered atmospheric songs with melodic vocals.

Certain albums will interest fans of death and black metal, others will appeal to Depeche Mode fans, while other's still engage Metallica enthusiasts. I personally love them all and was excited to see what a thirty year retrospective would be like from the band's point of view.

The five piece has four of the original members still at the helm with Nick Holmes on vocals, Gregor Mackintosh on lead guitar, Aaron Aedy on rhythm guitar and Stephen Edmondson on bass guitar. In similar fashion to Spinal Tap, they have gone through five drummers (seven if you count session musicians) in their long run - although none of them spontaneously combusted that I know of. Currently on the drum throne is Waltteri Väyrynen, who joined the band in 2015.

Paradise Lost kicked off the set with "The Enemy" from 2007's "In Requiem". This song is a great example of their classic melodic-yet-heavy playing style, while setting the standard for their melancholic and emotional lyrics.

They followed up with "Pity the Sadness" from 1992's "Shades of God" album. This was the first one I purchased many years ago and made me an instant fan. I was anticipating them to maintain a heavy selection of songs from the first five albums but they moved all over their catalog.

"One Second" from the album of the same name marked their first movement into more electronic/synth-heavy material and it was cool to see it live in the gloomy warehouse venue with their smoke machine pumping in loads of atmosphere.

They somehow avoided their debut album altogether, but we did get the eponymous "Gothic" title track from their sophomore release which marked the oldest material they played this evening. Many bands have cited this as their initial inspiration - everyone from Katatonia to Cradle of Filth.

Jumping forward in time to their latest offering they gave us "Blood and Chaos" from "Medusa". I love this entire release but this song is definitely one of the most popular, and I joined the rest of the audience in singing along to the chorus.

1995's "Draconian Times" is often cited as the band's stand-out album that all of their other works are compared to. Gregor has said that this is rightfully so, as it embodies what Paradise Lost is all about. They played one of my favorites from the album, "Enchantment".

"Erased" definitely falls into the synth-pop influenced era from 2002's "Symbol of Life" and has always stuck in my head, forcing itself into one of my favorites. "I don't know anyone - faith is only fiction" resounds with me personally, and I love seeing this song live.

Punctuating the past with the relevant present, they returned to the latest, "Medusa" for the title track. Staying in the modern realm, they visited their prior album, "The Plague Within", with "An Eternity of Lies" which showcases their primary lyrical focal themes; life, religion, futility, and death.

Bouncing from modern times to their distant past, they returned to "Shades of God" for the fan favorite "As I Die". At certain points mosh pits had broken out for the heavier material and this was the pinnacle of the circle pit this evening. I would say for the fans that are more on the death metal side of things, this was their favorite song of the night.

Returning to their second to last release, "The Plague Within", they kept up the heavy momentum with "Beneath Broken Earth". This lead to one of my favorite songs of the night, the title track from 2009's "Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us". It is a poignant song in current times even as it reflects all the way back to ancient conflicts of faith, and how no matter what you believe, you cannot escape the finality of life.

Closing out the main set, they gave us "Embers Fire" from 1993's "Icon" album. They had touched upon ten of their fifteen albums on this night, which spanned so many different eras and sounds while still feeling organic and natural moving back and forth between them.

The audience cheered and chanted them back out to the stage, kicking off the encore with "No Hope in Sight" from "The Plague Within". This song was an instant classic when it came out three years back and is the epitome of Paradise Lost's signature gothic metal sound and story. It is a staple of their song catalog and one I recommend everyone check out.

Just as iconic and representative is "The Longest Winter" from last year's "Medusa". It was fitting that they chose these two master works from their modern output to leave the audience with. But they did have one last song up their sleeves...

They finished up the night with the classic "Just Say Words" from "One Second". This is definitely one of their more accessible songs that incorporated their synth era sound with Nick's melodic vocals and greatly expanded their audience base when it was released in 1997.

It was an awesome show that spanned so much ground, and for me was a perfect encapsulation of Paradise Lost.

I am not a fan of this venue as the location is beyond shady in a derelict warehouse area in south east downtown. It is plagued with mediocre sound and stage lighting directed more into the audience's eyes than at the band. Despite the venue's shortcomings, it was worth it all to get to see this 30 year celebration of one of my favorite bands. Some people in the crowd grumbled a bit about lack of the first album or more material from the first three releases, but I loved the set list.

A lot of bands that have been around a while and are doing anniversary shows have been playing a certain album (usually the debut or sophomore) straight through and tack on an encore. I had prepared myself for just such a show. I was really pleased how varied it was and how it spanned all their styles and eras. This was definitely not a tour to miss.

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