Rewind to 1992 and I was at university, where I was bathed in more metal than I had been up until that point in my life. With meeting new people from around the country as I settled in Bradford (for ten years longer than I originally intended) and with more disposable income, I encountered a ridiculous number of new bands.
One of them, from neighbouring Halifax, was Paradise Lost. Now, funny thing, I’d seen them a couple of years earlier at the Riverside in Newcastle when they were touring on – I think – Lost Paradise. They were just, at that point, another band I’d gone to see because the tickets were cheap and I liked checking out new bands. With the lack of internet (and lack of funds) back then, I promptly forgot about them.
Fast forward a few years and, due to shoving my way onto the university radio station, I got a promo copy of Icon and a chance to interview the band after their show at the Queen’s Hall – one of my first interviews. A mate loaned me his copy of Shades of God, prior to that gig, and the two albums ended up in heavy rotation on my trusty CD player, much to the annoyance of my neighbours in halls of residence.
Shades of God was the first album that Paradise Lost released through Music For Nations (back in 1992) and it was a turning point in their sound. Whereas Goth and Lost Paradise were more “traditional” doom/death metal albums particularly in terms of Nick’s harsh vocals, it was Shades of God which put the “doom” to the fore. It was a brilliant album and still holds up today. “As I Die” and “Pity the Sadness” seem to be a permanent fixtures on the live set list (occasionally each giving way to the other for shorter shows) and it’s only the volume of music the band has churned out over the years that prevents more being included. “Mortals Watch The Day” has every right to be a live favourite as well, as does “Daylight Torn”.
Paradise Lost were the first death-y band of any genre I encountered at the time who’d managed to include gentler, clean guitars in with their sound as well as the catchiest, most memorable riffs. This was music you could sing and bang your head to. Hell, you could bounce to it! The whole sound of the album was incredible, with the most depressing downtuned intros I’d hear up to that point in my metal life. Yet somehow I still found my foot tapping on that very first listen – exactly as it’s doing now, 20+ years later.
Hell, wouldn’t it be great if they just re-released it and then they could consider doing a tour based on it? Well, half of that is about to happen. On July 22nd, the reformed Music For Nations will be releasing Shades of God on vinyl picture disc. It’s available for pre-order already at a penny under twenty quid.
As for the second half? They’re touring festivals this year including Bloodstock on the 13th of August so you never know…