With fifteen years of record making, gigging and assorted personnel ins and out behind them, Alunah’s excellent sixth album and second on the Heavy Psych Sounds label, Strange Machine was released back in April with the band putting in the legwork touring around the UK ever since.
Alunah drummer and the one remaining founding member in the current line up, Jake Mason takes time to give his perspective on Halifax’s Goth Metal pioneers, Paradise Lost who he calls “more than just a Metal band.”
I could spend hours answering this but one of the main answers is the album Host.
Released just before the turn of the century, the band had been touted as “The Next Metallica” by the media after the massive success of the Icon/Draconian Times era. More recently One Second had seen the shift to a more goth sound (rather than gothic metal, they had already mastered that earlier in the decade). Host, however, was far too much of a shock to the system for some.
I remember reading claims of there being no metal left on the album, the guitars and roars now firmly replaced by strings, clean vocals and programmed sounds which surely should have been on Depeche Mode’s follow-up to Ultra (and in some respects the doubters were right, Host is the album Exciter should have been). BUT, in the context of their own dark ethos, I always thought Host suited Paradise Lost perfectly. Despite the predictable claims at the time of “sell-out”, tracks like Nothing Sacred or Permanent Solution were no more likely to be dancefloor fillers than the previous downbeat sounds of Embers Fire or Forever Failure.
History is filled with bands wanting to change their sound and break the mould, but I struggle to think of another band who produced such a classy album by doing so. Many disagree, feeling the haircuts and promo shots for the album were one step too far. Yet when the songs were this good I just didn’t care. My fanboy admiration just grew, forever believing Paradise Lost to be more than just another metal band. In my mind this wasn’t a band chasing chart success, this was a band on the cusp of metal greatness if they took the easier route but instead chose the “Bollocks to that, we’ll do it our way” approach. Were they right or wrong to down this road? Who knows, but it took guts!
After seeing them on the supporting tour in the non-glamourous setting of Dudley JB’s, I was forevermore convinced Paradise Lost to be pioneers rather than followers. To the point that I remember feeling slightly less enthralled as they initially started to return to their metal roots on later albums. On reflection however, it is obvious that every album (sixteen to date) is a piece of the jigsaw that makes up the full picture of such an incredible band.
Alunah were lucky enough to open for Paradise Lost on the UK dates of the ’22 Obsidian tour and hearing So Much Is Lost from Host stand proud every night amongst the more praised songs in the set gave me the fanboy feelings all over again. From the Doom to the Metal to the Goth and everywhere in between, long live Paradise Lost.
Our thanks to Jake for sharing an insight into a band he’s admired and had the good fortune to support on tour.
Here’s the title track from the Strange Machine album
You can read more from our extensive archive of Why I Love pieces from a wide array of artists on an even wider array of subjects, here.