Paradise Lost - Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us
Century Media
Gothic Doom
10 songs (45:58)
Release year: 2009
Paradise Lost, Century Media
Reviewed by Charles
Before we start, I should confess this: the last Paradise Lost I listened to in its entirety was 1999’s Host. At the time I thought it was rubbish, but I now think it definitely has some limited synth-y charm. As so often happens when you don’t think about something for ten years, times have changed without you. With their last couple of records, they seem to have successfully completed a synthesis between the epic, growly gothic doom of their early classics, and the sad, poppy melancholy of the intervening years.

So the highly effective songwriting formula at work here is based on slow, lumbering riffs wrapped in dreary, rain-sodden melody- the kind of ideas you don’t really need to make comparisons for because this band invented them. They go for, and frequently achieve, a regally miserable atmosphere that characterises the albums best moments. Like First Light, which is a real masterclass in trudging gloom, but one that is illuminated beautifully by the melodic lines picked out by Gregor Mackintosh. It’s very like the warming sunrise after a frozen night in the Yorkshire countryside, if I can be briefly poetic.

I’ve never fully understood Paradise Lost whenever they shift down from this particular gear- as they do frequently, of course. The gentlest moments here I often find not to work especially effectively- such as the verses on the title track, which aim for an eerie goth-synth sound but which feel one-dimensional and a bit maudlin to me. When it builds up again, it turns into something of an anthem; a real metal power ballad, but it doesn’t feel like a coherent, powerful song to my ears. That said, there are some interesting ideas here which are genuinely pretty new for the band, such as Living with Scars which experiments with both growling grooves and harder death metal, even if I can see more traditionalist fans being a bit turned off by it. Then there is the excellent Universal Dream, which unexpectedly and delightfully apes Cathedral circa-The Eternal Mirror at times, with Nick Holmes almost taking on a Lee Dorrian twang in his voice.

Overall though, from my perspective this works because it plays to the band’s strengths, rather than because of any musical progression. You can look at this alongside My Dying Bride’s last one, also from 2009, and observe how two of the great doom-death bands have effectively ditched their experimental phases and found renewed strength doing what they always did. For a band that has traversed so much ground in their career, it isn’t surprising that Faith Divides Us has plenty going on. But for the most part, this is a pretty straightforward album which delivers in all the ways you’d expect it to.

Killing Songs :
First Light, Universal Dream
Charles quoted 75 / 100
Other albums by Paradise Lost that we have reviewed:
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 - In Requiem reviewed by Crims and quoted 79 / 100
Paradise Lost - Paradise Lost reviewed by Jack and quoted 95 / 100
To see all 12 reviews click here
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