Paradise Lost – Tragic Illusion 25 (The Rarities)
Originally posted on Ghost Cult Magazine’s website 21/10/2013
Commemorating a quarter century with a collection of outtakes and b-sides often delivers mixed results but West Yorkshire’s gloomiest act have never been afraid to take chances. Encompassing outtakes from the last couple of studio releases plus a couple of cover versions and two re-workings of old favourites, ultimately, Tragic Illusion 25 (Century Media) by Paradise Lost will appeal mostly to collectors and existing fans but when you acknowledge this as five guys having fun in the studio in between albums, it becomes a far more enjoyable affair than many stopgap efforts. Albums of this nature have a tendency to lack a cohesive flow but while this is true, there are a couple of gems to be had here.
Tragic Idol era opener ‘Loneliness Remains’ is typical of their recent output. Sabbathian dirge meets funereal bleakness and the orchestral reworking of ‘Faith Divides Us (Death Unites Us)’ is certainly a highlight but the re-workings of the older numbers do not differ enough from their original form to merit more than a cursory glance.
‘Gothic 2013′ feels a bit pointless as the only real difference is the slightly cleaner vocal and while it has been apparent for some time that Nick Holmes prefers to use his more melodic range, it makes you wonder why Greg Macintosh’s gruff backing vocals are not put to further use. Considering the strength of his death vocals in side project Vallenfyre, it makes you wonder why Paradise Lost have not utilised his considerable skills when performing older compositions live.
Holmes himself manages to snarl impressively through ‘Our Saviour’ which could perhaps be a sign the band may break out some of the Lost Paradise material live, something which fans have long hoped for. The mishmash of styles the band have employed throughout their career have polarised opinion yet PL’s influence on a generation of acts can never be denied.
Of the covers Spear Of Destiny number ‘Never Take Me Alive’ is interesting but Everything But The Girl’s ‘Missing’ harks back to the ill advised Depeche Mode light flavour of their Host era. Likewise, the ill-fitting instrumental Godless will be avoided by even the most devoted of fans. Perhaps a live album with these extras as a bonus disk would have been a more fitting manner to celebrate 25 years of the band’s dark art.