Paradise Lost – Draconian Times
The problem that faced Paradise Lost in 1995 was how to follow the metallic goth excellence that was Icon and Shades Of God? The answer would appear to have been easy enough; refine your sound, round off some of the rough edges and throw caution to the wind!
Producer Simon Efemey must take alot of credit for this groundbreaking album, endowing Paradise Lost’s sound with a stately elegance that barely existed before whilst retaining their ground-shaking heaviness. And then, of course, were the songs themselves. Is there a stronger first half to an album in their vast body of work? The answer to that is a resounding no. From the keyboard led grandeur of opener “Enchantment” to the soaring and anthemic “Hallowed Land” and “The Last Time” on to the depressing “Forever Failure” and rounded off by two relatively ‘speedy’ tracks in “Once Solemn” and “Shadowkings”; exquisite doesn’t quite do it justice.
Incidentally, when Draconian Times was reissued in 2011, a number of articles stated that the second half of the album was poor when compared to the first half. Anyone with half a brain will know this is bollocks of the highest order! In “Elusive Cure”, “Yearn For Change” and “I See Your Face”, the band fashioned three songs equal to anything loaded at the front of the album and while there may be a couple of missteps in the shape of “Shades Of God” and “Hands Of Reason”, these can hardly be construed as failures.
In hindsight, following Draconian Times seemed to prove problematic for the band as they took a few bewildering side-steps into electronica/synth-pop. However, the past decade or so has seen Paradise Lost reclaim their doom metal crown – none more so than with this year’s outstanding The Plague Within – and twenty years later Draconian Times still remains one of the brightest jewels in that crown.