Paradise Lost - Icon
Music For Nations
Gothic Doom Metal
13 songs (50'32)
Release year: 1993
Paradise Lost, Music For Nations
Reviewed by Jack

I was wondering which one was my favorite Paradise Lost album. Although I worship Gothic, I admit this one didn’t grow old very well if you listen to it today. In fact, the choice rapidly reduced to Icon and Draconian Times. Since I couldn’t make up my mind, I decided to review them both. So here’s part one of the Paradise Lost mid-nineties classic chronicles.

For the little story, I was in Santa Barbara in the fall of 1993 when I bought this album. The guy I used to buy records from might probably remember the day he sold me this album as I got freaked out when I found this record on the shelves of his metal store. I was at the time a Gothic fanatic and Shades Of God had somewhat disappointed me. But based on what I had read in the magazines before leaving Switzerland in early September, it had convinced me this album would be as great as Shades Of God had disappointed me.

Icon is the second collaboration between Paradise Lost and Simon Efemey with Pete “Pee Wee” Coleman after Shades Of God recorded at Jacobs Studios, but this time the production is warmer and more colorful as Shades Of God has a production that I still don’t like as of today. Songs on Shades Of God were quite long and sometimes too long, whereas all the songs on Icon clock at 4 minutes and are therefore much better and less boring.

Myself, I would not have chosen Ember Fires as an opening song to this album since I find it little below the average Paradise Lost song. In fact, the band has always showed two different personalities, a bit like the ying and the yang. The ying is what I would call the “mellow” side as the band clearly shows its Black Sabbath or 70es influences as they get heavy and loud, while the yang is the “catchy” side of the band that sees Paradise Lost come up with faster and catchier songs in the veins of Eternal, The Painless or As I Die.

On Icon the songs are clearly divided into those two categories. Songs such as Embers Fire, Remembrance, Joys Of The Emptiness and Colossal Rains, True Belief and Shallow Seasons are typical Paradise Lost songs, mellow, heavy, loud and slow for the most parts. On the other hand, Forging Sympathy, Dying Freedom, Widow (a terrific song with it’s “don’t look back” chorus), Weeping Words and Poison are some of those unimitable typical Paradise Lost catchy songs, while Christendom is the only song on Icon that features the traditional female vocals, this time those of Denise Bernard. Female vocals in death metal are a Paradise Lost trademark as they were introduced more or less for the first time ever by the band on the album Gothic in 1991 to a wide open-minded audience, although on the follow up albums Shades Of God, Icon and One Second they are not as predominant as they were on Gothic.

Unfortunately, the best song of the Icon era is the song Sweetness taken from the EP Seals The Sense. Had this song been added to Icon, as this song is definitely my all-time favorite Paradise Lost song ever, a fast and catchy song they unfortunately don’t play live anymore, then Icon would be the ultimate Paradise Lost album ever.

I have always stated in my previous reviews that I don’t care about lyrics since I am not a native English speaker. Well, this is nowadays more or less true, but at the time I was learning English and constantly trying to improve it, I used to spend hours translating lyrics of bands such as Metallica and later such bands as Paradise Lost or Desultory. I have always had a hard time translating Paradise Lost as Nick Holmes' lyrics always gave me headaches. Of course even French is sometimes hard to understand when writers use metaphors, but Nick Holmes is probably the king among them. Can someone tell me what the hell does “I see a summer of winters merging gracefully” mean ? I know... its just poesy.

Finally I had the chance to interview Gregor McIntosh last year (maybe I might finish the transcription of the interview someday if I can remember what he says… damn “bloody” English accent), and I always thought this guys was an awesome guitarist, giving some of the best lead guitar work I ever heard, but he is also a nice person, very patient (believe me).

Killing Songs :
Embers Fire, Remembrance, Joys Of The Emptiness, Colossal Rains, True Belief, Shallow Seasons, Forging Sympathy, Dying Freedom, Widow, Weeping Words, Poison
Jack quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Paradise Lost that we have reviewed:
Paradise Lost - Obsidian reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Paradise Lost - Medusa reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Paradise Lost - The Plague Within reviewed by Joel and quoted 92 / 100
Paradise Lost - Tragic Idol reviewed by Khelek and quoted 85 / 100
Paradise Lost - Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us reviewed by Charles and quoted 75 / 100
To see all 13 reviews click here
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