Sound — 6
Paradise Lost first album "Lost Paradise," which surfaced in 1990, is a chaotic blend between the slow pace and chugging rhythms of traditional doom metal and the unmelodic rawness of death metal. The soundscape is distorted, sterile and metallic and almost a bit sludgy (although none of the instruments drown in the mix). The vocals are made up by growls delivered by Nick Holmes and the music features frequent changes in tempo and time signatures. Gregor Mackintosh and Aaron Aedy give us dissonant lead guitar work that is almost completely void of melody and the groups lineup is completed by a stable rhythm section consisting of Stephen Edmonson on bass and Matthew Archer on the drums (a constellation they would consequently keep for the first four albums before Archer was replaced). The sound is completed by some measure of keyboards and sound effects here and there and Key Field performs female guest vocals on "Breeding Fear."
Lyrics — 5
When it comes to the vocals and the lyrics there's not much to say. They work fine for what they are, but there's nothing in my mind that stands out about them. The growls are as brutal as they need be, but they certainly get quite monotone. The lyrics are almost exclusively about fear, insanity and impending death and they make no attempt to do anything more than fitting in with the atmosphere. I find there's overall a lack of either inventiveness, ambition or a bit of both in the lyrics and the vocals. This void of inspiration also translates to the song titles. Both "Paradise Lost" and "Lost Paradise" can be found on this record.
Overall Impression — 5
The star of the show with this record is the atmosphere. It feels raw, dark and metallic just like you'd expect a death metal record to sound. The real difference is in the emphasis on the slow tempos and the aforementioned rhythmic chug which is more often present in classic doom metal. The songwriting is however a bit stale. Here it's all about the sound and not at all about individual songs. The material, though incorporating good rhythmic changes and so forth, is too similar to itself all of the time and nothing really stands out much, which is why this isn't a record to return to for sporadic listening. You're not going to find yourself humming anything from this record off the top of your head. The two elements that makes this album doom metal and death metal, can on the one hand be represented by Candlemass and the other by Death or Morbid Angel, but in a way it's almost like an early Cathedral record that has been stripped of guitar melodies and the signature Sabbath-inspired '70s rock jams, only with a more sterile, cold, metallic and industrial sound. I'm however also strangely reminded of the music from the video game "Diablo 1" at some points, and it shares some of the same dystopic mood and the keyboards and sound effects are at least emotionally similar. This becomes clear to me at least during the not-so-cleverly titled "intro" (which though brilliant is too long) and during the songs "Paradise Lost" and "Rotting Misery." All in all I'm asking myself about the purpose of this record as a whole (which is what I'm rating). It shows off the bands sound and ambition at the time very well, but in my opinion that's what an EP is for. Some debut records suffer from this simply acting as a display of the bands musical direction, which is likely because the band is more used to releasing shorter pieces and have trouble adapting to the new format. The length of this record is unnecessary since what's being said has been said in less than half its' playtime. If it was shorter I would have rated it higher because I like the sound, and the atmosphere and the changes in tempo and time signatures keep me reasonably interested for a short time. But because I'm rating the quality of the record (in its' entirety) and not the quality of the bands sound my final score is in the middle.