Paradise Lost - 'In Requiem'
I stopped following Paradise Lost around the time they released Host. I didn't have anything against them going all electro-goth, but considering that I already listen to and enjoy Depeche Mode when I need that sort of thing, the whole concept seemed redundant to me. I liked being able to listen to Depeche Mode albums when I was in a Depeche Mode mood, and Paradise Lost albums when I was in a Paradise Lost mood. For me, PL going all DM was a loss of diversity in the world of music, and cause for regret.
Apparently, however, they've since been charting a course that brings them back to somewhere around where they were when they released Draconian Times, which I liked a lot (although I'd have been as happy if they'd carried on in the Icon vein for a while longer). This is a common direction for bands who have pushed the envelope a bit too far, and found themselves in a position where their new sound doesn't really give them a huge enough crossover success, and it alienates substantial portions of their old audience as well. The results are usually mixed at best.
Anyhow, I reckoned it shouldn't hurt too much to try Paradise Lost's new album, In Requiem. As a matter of fact, it didn't. It is very like Draconian Times, in a broad way, but there are more keys and trace of the more mainstream-friendly goth rock sensibility they must have acquired when they were doing that Depeche Mode thing. Still, the guitars occupy musical centre stage most of the time. Gregor Mackintosh's huge, rolling melodies still carry the songs, underpinned by faithful Aaron Aedy's rhythm guitar and some pretty solid rhythm section work from Stephen Edmondson and current drummer Jeff Singer. Nick Holmes is the more melodic, at times oddly Hetfieldian singer of Draconian Times, and even goes so far as to sound rather modern-rockish at times, although he brings the aggression on the song 'Requiem'. He's broadened his range, like the rest of the band, for ever if not always for better.
The Eiderdown-Stuffing Bottomline: All in all, it's a decent, tuneful collection of dark, doomy songs where the guitars create most of the atmosphere, with keyboards serving more as embellishment. This is the right proportion in a metal band, if you ask me. Paradise Lost's digressions have certainly added diverse things to their sound (and sometimes just a little annoyingly - some of the keys on 'Fallen Children' are a bit too jaunty) and if these songs bore their way into my head over time, this may stand as a respectable descendant of Draconian Times. Also, it's given me enough hope to go try the intervening albums between Host and this one. Cautious hope.