Paradise Lost Keep it Nostalgic yet Fresh with Icon 30
The year was 1993, and extreme metal, for all intents and purposes, was still a baby. Over in the U.K., they were taking a stab at death metal strongly enough to compete with American counterparts in the form of Carcass. But where Europe was really thriving, and continues to thrive to this day, was in the realm of doomy, riffy metal that borrows tropes from the classics. We saw that emerge with bands like Cathedral, My Dying Bride, and, of course, Paradise Lost.
Icon was the band’s fourth album, following on the heals of their 1990 self-titled release, Gothic in 1991, and Shades Of God in 1992. Already, they were very ahead of the curve with their sound, but this record got a bit more away from the death doom elements they started with and added in more melodic elements, a lot of the elements we consider traditionally European today and associate with that sound and genre.
As such, this album is lauded by many as helping to kick off the traditional Euroepan doom sound. It also came out during the era of MTV, so there were videos for “True Belief,” “Widow,” and “Embers Fire,” which helped the album gain notoriety in the U.S. and globally.
The 13-song album saw its 30th anniversary pop up this year, hence why Icon 30 is being released now, and the significance behind the name. This release definitely pays tribute to the classic record, but there’s a twist. Like many bands at that time, they’ve lost their rights to the original 1993 versions of the songs and art due to predatory label practices in the past. Where some bands would mope and whine on the internet, Paradise Lost have taken a truly proactive approach and re-recorded the entire record, redone the art, basically brought us a brand-new version of this album. And their hard work paid off.
Where the original album was an exercise in what a classic doom record should be, this album is basically that but elevated, with the band having not only the power of experience and learning, but also modern technology, on their side. The record kicks off, of course, with “Embers Fire,” and we’re reminded why that song was so pivotal in the world of Euro doom. It’s heavy, layered, and melodic right from the start. “True Belief” was always one of the strongest songs on the album as well, and it stands the test of time, featuring a strong interplay between the guitars and the rhythm section.
Nick Holmes’ vocals really pop on “Weeping Words,” almost taking over the composition but not in a bad way. Instead, they play with the other instruments and turn the volume up to 11 alongside the guitars. “Weeping Words” has always been my favorite track on the album, and the guitar work of Gregor Mackintosh and Aaron Aedy is especially on point here, as the melodic guitar tones are elevated and amplified by the mastering done on this record.
This record is a great way to lean in and celebrate the history of the album, while also having something new and heavy to celebrate. The songs are as good as they were in 1993, but they take on a whole new life with this updated mixing and mastering. You won’t want to miss this record if you’re a Paradise Lost fan or interested in becoming one.