“I believe our flag is more than just cloth and ink. It is a universally recognized symbol that stands for liberty, and freedom. It is the history of our nation, and it’s marked by the blood of those who died defending it.” — John Thune
I recently saw Paradise Lost at Damnation Festival in Leeds a fortnight ago, and i can tell you (despite some technical issues with their microphone) they still have the capacity to bring the audience together in gothic glory. Although the only track from this album they played was “As I Die” i am happy i heard that since its arguably the most well-known track from Shades Of God, even though this is not necessarily my favourite PL album for reasons i will now go into. Sometimes wedged between the underground and commercially successful albums that were Gothic and Icon, Shades Of God is an album that saw PL take their gothic trademark and matured it. Think of their Gothic album if it were somewhat more fleshed out and a more adult feel thrown into the mix.
One of the more notable things about this album is the shifting vocal style Nick Holmes was adopting between these albums before Icon and onwards, whereby a growling approach would be replaced by a much cleaner vocal delivery on future releases, a sign of how PL would take to their music for the next few years. However the guitar tone present throughout Shades Of God is absolutely crushing, it lends the album a real foreboding sense of dread, one reminiscent of their previous successes. Dread really is the right word to portray this album for while future albums would hammer home the sense of sorrow and melancholy, here we feel so many more feelings of horror and suffering which is much more atmospheric, and so is more personally threatening to us; laying out transparently why Paradise Lost alongside Type O Negative are considered the Godfathers of Gothic Metal. Tracks have been lengthened too in comparison to previous efforts, enabling the band to immerse their audience much longer into scenarios of misery and struggle, these are notions and moments throughout Life that we have all experienced so individually you can take a different part away from this album from anyone else.
If one has a bad day whether at home or work, or if their relationship is not doing very well a playthrough of this album can feel nigh on cathartic, expelling ill ideas and negative emotions ironically. It echoes strangely sometimes when some tracks feature very stripped down segments where just the bass and drums play, creating a strong feeling of solitude and loneliness e.g. “Crying For Eternity”. Solos are placed at particular places throughout the album and come across as natural extensions of the respective tracks as opposed to sections of the song have been implanted between the riffs or chorus.
However my one major gripe with this album is that i do think it runs on for too long, i think if 10 minutes was shaved off this record it would be much better. I believe some of the tracks that are slightly longer this time round would do with having 2 minutes each shaved off their runtime, this may be down to PL trying more mature content or just go for more immersive and longer material and have yet to pin it down like they have done with latest album Medusa, alas here it goes drag after a while making you want to just get through the remainder of one track to the next and that is something i truly do not want to experience when listening to an album, especially one from a band i dearly cherish. I like the songs, but often i feel there’s not enough meat being thrown on the bone to truly savour and enjoy what is being presented, its only down to the quality of the tracks themselves that this album has been spared a 7. My favourite tracks here are “Mortals Watch The Day”, “Pity The Sadness”, “Your Hand In Mine” and “As I Die”. Overall i did enjoy this album but some of the extended playing times did fog the joy brought over time. Maybe that’s why they went with what Icon eventually became, something that was of a departure yet completely new to their sound; after Shades Of God maybe that was what was best for the band. Still a good album but i’s recommend this after first suggesting their latest stuff along with Gothic and Icon first