Review of the Album "Icon" by British Gothic Metal Band Paradise Lost
Icon Represents a Stylistic Change for Paradise Lost
“Icon” is the 4th studio album by British Gothic Metal band Paradise Lost and it came out in 1993. By this time in their career, Paradise Lost starts to drift away from the death metal style vocals and we hear the standard voice that we have heard from Nick Holmes for much of the 1990’s. From the get go of the album, the Gothic style guitar sound is evident.
One Example of the Style Change in Icon
Embers Fire is the first song and has the beginning reminiscent of one of those old video games of the 1980’s (I can think of Rygar but do video games and music really mix)? Stylistically, Icon represents a major departure away from albums such as Lost Paradise and Gothic as the slow, doom metal filled music and heavy growls have been replaced by more mid-tempo Gothic filled songs that resemble sounds that bands such as Amorphis would use and especially Lacuna Coil would adopt in their music.
Icon as Described by Nick Holmes
Nick Holmes gave an interview to the major music magazine called Kerrang! He did this in 2008 and during the interview he elaborated about the musical style of Icon saying: “We were pretty much the first band to coin the phrase gothic metal so I don’t have a problem with that label,” (Travers, 2008). Holmes went on further saying that Paradise Lost was getting better as a band and he (Holmes) was hopefully getting better as a vocalist. Surely, I would say that Nick Holmes improved dramatically within 5 years of the band’s formation.
Icon...the Other Songs
Remembrance is a song about remembering the painful times that some of us experience but isn’t that what life has? Life consists of both pleasure and pain. The song has a guitar tone that the Norwegian band Theatre of Tragedy would incorporate into their music around 1996. I detect also a more modern progressive sound, something that Italy’s Eldritch would use in the years 2004-2006. Forging Sympathy and its rock style feel combined with a sort of Gothic influence reminds me of at least a few bands that have used this style at some point in their careers. Two examples that come to mind are Rotting Christ and Amorphis. Joys of the Emptiness may have influenced Theatre of Tragedy and that band was formed in 1993, the same year that Icon was released. The song addresses that even though the air is now clean, a man lies asleep and he is still tormented by his past. The song Dying Freedom has the style of a more modern Lacuna Coil but in 1993, this sort of Gothic style was in its early stages. Some people waste their lives and the joy is replaced with pain and sorrow. Colossal Rains sees the band’s tempo slow down once again as the vocals is sort of low and drowned out but the Gothic influence is still noticeable. The vocal line of “you’ll never walk again” is repeated incessantly by Nick Holmes. There is also the sound effect of a crowd cheering as early Amorphis is present in this song but Amorphis was formed in 1990, two years after Paradise Lost was and whether this is some sort of irony or not, they also began their career as a death metal band.
This is the Paradise Lost that is more enjoyable than the band’s first two releases not just because the vocals are more understandable but because the songwriting is more polished even for 1993 standards. As I write this, it is remarkable to know that over 25 years have passed and the world will be more familiar with this talented British band. There is a song in this album called Poison and the song makes reference to the fact that some of the things that we cherish have been destroyed by human arrogance. True Belief is a song about the fact that the search for truth involves effort when we are surrounded by delusion. There is no reason for anyone to take their life even if it feels like death or some other force is calling. The truth always wins out over lies and deception. Shallow Seasons is a song that continues the lyrical themes associated with a lot of the Gothic rock bands and in this song the message is that anger is counterproductive because it compels a sense of weakness or fear.
Final Thoughts About Paradise Lost's Icon
Even though Icon is a decent release from Paradise Lost it is not as good as the albums One Second or Symbol of Life because the songs are not quite as strong but nonetheless for Gothic rock standards it is a pretty good album from one of the UK’s finest along with other notable bands from this large island country such as Napalm Death or Carcass.
Strongest songs in Icon: Embers Fire, Remembrance, Forging Sympathy, True Belief
Travers, P. (2008, August 30). Treasure Chest. An Intimate Portrait of a Life in Rock. Nick Holmes P. 54. Retrieved December 14, 2018, from Kerrang!
© 2018 Ara Vahanian