Draconian Times, by Paradise Lost
Suggested by Saira Gorringe
There’s an old Peter Kay routine about Cadbury’s Fingers.
I’m sure you’ve seen it. It was on that DVD of his, from Blackpool. The one that every fourth person in Britain was honour-bound to purchase and store, like a killer’s keepsake. Rumour has it that, at the turn of the century, no matter where you stood, you were never more than six feet away from a copy of the DVD at any given time.
I like Peter Kay. He makes me laugh. As did the Cadbury’s Fingers routine.
If you don’t know it, it’s an observational piece revolving around a typically English attitude when abroad. Visiting Spain, for instance, you might see some English people in a supermercado, purchasing a box of Spanish Cadbury’s Fingers: Les Cadbury’s Fingres. Astonished, the shoppers might then chomp through half a box each, proclaiming “they taste exactly the same!” in genuine surprise.
Draconian Times is the fifth studio album (of sixteen!) by Halifax gothic metal band Paradise Lost. It’s my first visit to their aural supermercado, and I can see isle after isle of Les Cadbury’s Fingres.
Thankfully, I love a biscuit.
There’s something nostalgic, familiar, about Draconian Times. For a start, the singer does an unsurpassed impression of Metallica’s James Hetfield throughout, bringing a sense of solidity and strength to every song. Finding the familiar in a new setting can be comforting, even if that familiar thing is by association rather than a genuine connection. His vocal is assured, assertive, and deft. It’s also hugely out of character, if the internet is to be believed, as previous albums saw his guttural dirge roundly condemned.
Tonally, and structurally, there’s a feel of classic fantasy metal here, from the powerful doom of Shades of God to the intricate drums of Hallowed Land. The Last Time offers something simpler, almost straight up rock in places, while my standout track, the elegant Enchantment, feels fresher and more vibrant than a metal track from 1995 has any claim to be. The haunting pianos that open the song (and album) set us up for high gothic melodrama, and the album doesn’t disappoint.
The band’s tailored lurch from crunching metal to camp goth whiteface is what both bolsters and limits the album. The songs are strengthened by their coherency and creative vision, while at the same time the theme is a little constrictive. And so serious! Titles like Shadowkings, Forever Failure, Yearn for Change, Shades of God… no time for fun and frolics, kids, it’s Bring Your Goth To School Day.
The nostalgia factor is strong with this album, despite it never really grasping at sounds that I truly embrace. Like Les Cadbury’s Fingres, there’s a familiarity masked in the new, an oddity enveloping the comforting and expressive sound. For metal, it’s oddly calming, and extremely entertaining. I give Draconian Times 8/10, as I enjoyed every chocolate biscuity bite.