And Out Came the Goths
Paradise Lost and Deathstars at the London Astoria, 18 November 2003
by: Jackie Smit
The three-quarter capacity crowd lining the floor of the London Astoria this evening makes it almost too easy to forget about the zenith from which Paradise Lost have fallen. Touted by many as a band to potentially ascend to a Metallica-like stratosphere of commercial acceptance, the album intended to propel them to these lofty heights, _One Second_, proved to be their undoing. Not accessible enough for the mainstream, and a frustration for hardened fans, it ultimately relegated them to the second tier of heavy music, where they have languished ever since, despite their gradual return to form on recent releases. Regardless of your opinion on the UK's erstwhile premier misery mongers, however, it has to be said that when pooled together, their back catalogue does make for a potentially entertaining evening.

First to strut the stage this evening, however, are Deathstars -- the sole opening act, after the departure of Finnish folk-metallers Amorphis from the tour. Playing a selection of numbers culled from their _Synthetic Generation_ debut, their delivery is tight and for the most part quite entertaining. Unfortunately their efforts are lost on a sizeable part of the audience, as yelps of "Fuck off, you Swedish cunts" echo through the building when vocalist Whiplash announces the last song. A real shame too, since the Rammstein meets Sisters of Mercy hybrid of "Semi-Automatic" and "Little Angel" turn out to be rather enjoyable.

Paradise Lost, by the looks of things, can seemingly do no wrong though. While the ovation greeting their arrival on stage is not quite the decibel-shattering response I was expecting, they are instantly mesmerizing, kicking off proceedings with the dual salvo of "Primal" and the crowd-pleaser "Widow". The union of Nick Holmes' tormented croon and Greg Mackintosh's wispy guitaring floods every crevice of the venue, sounding particularly colossal and impressive on moments like "So Much Is Lost", "Mercy" and the evening's highlight, "Prey Nightfall". Unsurprisingly, the band opt to focus their performance primarily on their latest _Symbol of Life_ opus, but thankfully still manage to churn out a few old favourites, including their now anthemic "As I Die". For the duration of the evening, crowd interaction is kept to a minimum, while on-stage activity is unlikely to put the likes of Hatebreed to shame anytime soon. It matters little, however, in the face of the tremendous on-stage charisma which the band bring to the plate, and the inherent showmanship in their performance indicates that they may still have the ability to reach great heights in the future. Whichever way you care to look at it, Paradise Lost prove tonight that at the very least they are a live act well worth catching when next they roll into your town.

(article submitted 26/12/2003)


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