Paradise Lost

support Pallbearer + Sinistro
author AP date 29/09/17 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

Despite being frequent guests to Denmark and in fact performing at this very venue more times than vocalist Nick Holmes cares to remember, Paradise Lost has no trouble attracting big audiences here time after time. Tonight is no exception, and one can assume that even without the strong supporting caste, featuring two of the most promising doom metal bands around right now, the British legends’ latest concert at Pumpehuset would still have been adorned with the coveted ‘sold out’ ribbon. And with rumours circulating that, after returning to heavier style and reintroducing the growls on their latest album, “Medusa”, Paradise Lost has embarked on this tour with a particularly appetising setlist, it is no surprise to find the venue buzzing with anticipation as our party arrives.

All photos courtesy of Michael Hyldgaard Løgtholt

Sinistro

Sinistro may be without a bassist (for reasons left unexplained), but even so the Portuguese outfit has seldom sounded heavier than they do on the opening track, “Partida”, tonight. The track serves as the sort of beginning that immediately turns heads and stops conversations, inviting every gaze upon vocalist Patrícia Andrade, who continues to assert herself as one of the most intriguing front-figures in metal right now. As ever, she tries to embody the grotesque, twitching movements of a marionette doll, affording Sinistro a touch of theatrics that goes hand-in-hand with the band’s music — a portentous mix of doom, stoner and post-metal, laced with Andrade’s dramatic, almost operatic singing. Once the first impression has been made, we are then treated to two brand new songs, “Pétalas” and “Abismo”, both of which herald the coming of a more esoteric style and less threatening tone than before, on the upcoming “Sangue Cássia” LP. The focus seems to be shifting toward post-metal, yet as the crashing chords and frantic drum fills that erupt toward the end of “Abismo” prove, there is no reason to fear a reduction in sonic weight. Neither should one fear that the tableaus that Andrade sometimes freezes into during instrumental passages might take over; if anything, her jolting movements are even more violent during these two songs. Still, it will be difficult to surpass the monumental, maddening “Cidade (Parte II)” and the crazed monologue that Andrade lapses into halfway through it — tonight, at least, the piece sends the audience into pure rapture, and without a doubt earns Sinistro enough new disciples to soon be able to return to us in a headlining capacity.

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Pallbearer

Citing the likes of Camel, Pink Floyd and Pulsar as important influences, Pallbearer openly admits to being an ‘expressive’ progressive rock band first and a doom metal band second. As also evidenced by the concert here, the Little Rock, AR-born quartet continues to divide the waters especially in the live setting, proving a insurmountable challenge for those not in favour of songs that go on for what seems like an eternity, growing and evolving through endless instrumental passages, and nothing short of magical for those in favour of the style. But even though I count myself among the latter populace, the band’s show tonight is neither nor, from an objective standpoint. Both “The Ghost I Used to Be” and “Dancing in Madness” are delivered in astounding renditions, underlining once again the depth of songwriting and skill of musicianship possessed by this band, and how tightly wound a unit they make on stage. But one persistent annoyance is that while the sound technician has found a nigh perfect balance between volume and clarity for the instruments, the singing of both frontman Joseph D. Rowland and guitarist/backing vocalist Devin Holt is all too often drowned out to render Pallbearer very much an instrumental experience tonight. As a fan, one still gets carried away by the band’s impassioned delivery of its grand odes to melancholy and wishes for these to go on for as long as possible. But looking at the bulk of the audience, it becomes obvious most people are not so easily wooed and as a result, that sweeping yet intimate atmosphere that is a staple of Pallbearer’s concerts never manages to cross the boundary between stage and crowd.

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Paradise Lost

Although they are widely considered to be a pioneering force of the doom/death metal hybrid genre, Paradise Lost is arguably the least doomy artist to feature on the bill of this tour. The band’s music is comparatively faster, their songs are shorter, and there is an element of immediacy about them that neither Sinistro nor Pallbearer is able to match. New song “Blood and Chaos” kicks the show off in the Gothic rocking style that defined the Halifax, United Kingdom-born group’s mid-‘90s era, and even though the quality of sound is marred by excessive treble, that immediacy reflects in the thunderous response of the audience. Effective though the track is as the starting berth though, it also makes for a surprising choice, with Paradise Lost being so intent on revisiting their roots, ergo the heaviest and most mournful parts of their repertoire on their latest record, “Medusa”. It feels too uplifting in the context of the overall setlist, and if the idea was the deploy one of the catchier cuts as means to seize our attention from the get-go, then perhaps a song like “One Second” or “Tragic Idol” — both aired later on — might have served better.

The questionable beginning aside, however, Paradise Lost makes life difficult for us critics with an intense and elegant performance during which they flaunt everything that is so beloved about them and very few weaknesses. As ever, the bright and grandiose melodies that guitarist Greg Mackintosh seeds unto Aaron Aedy’s bleak doom riffs are at the forefront of the band’s expression, even if the man himself prefers to perform largely in the shadows — in stark contrast with the humour and punk attitude he showcased here as the frontman of Vallenfyre in the previous week. But his withdrawn acting as the primus motor allows the rest of the musicians to draw attention to themselves and the nerve with which they are performing. Vocalist Nick Holmes may be lacking some of that venom and snarl of his younger years to really do the likes of “Dead Emotion” justice, but he is both exceptionally present and in high spirits, even cracking open a can of dry British humour at times to lighten up what is, I am told, the dreariest and most doom ridden setlist that Paradise Lost has brought to Denmark in 20 years.

Still, the fact that the band has such a firm handle on what makes a song compelling means that one needs not be a hardened connoisseur of the genre to find enjoyment in the concert. Songs such as the proggy “Forever Failure”, the grief-stricken “An Eternity of Lies”, and ultimately the crushing “Until the Grave” all soar into unprecedented heights of grandeur tonight — not least by virtue of Holmes’ impassioned portrayal of them, but also due to the energy and professionalism that his experienced compatriots bring to the table. The only criticism I am willing to leverage is that in periods, the show feels almost too perfectionistic, with the musicians often reluctant to truly lose themselves in the moment for fear of compromising on precision. When that is the only reasonable complaint that one can envision though, it becomes impossible to argue against the fact that what Paradise Lost muster here is one of the most airtight metal concerts that Denmark has witnessed in 2017.

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Setlist:

  • 01. Blood and Chaos
  • 02. Remembrance
  • 03. From the Gallows
  • 04. One Second
  • 05. Tragic Idol
  • 06. Medusa
  • 07. Shadowkings
  • 08. The Longest Winter
  • 09. Dead Emotion
  • 10. Forever Failure
  • 11. An Eternity of Lies
  • 12. Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us
  • 13. Beneath Broken Earth

— Encore —

  • 14. No Hope in Sight
  • 15. True Belief
  • 16. Until the Grave

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