Some compared this to the similar welcoming Metallica received when they released the mix bag of reviews that was ‘Load’, but ‘Host’ was actually a lot smarter than some people gave the album credit for. Yes the doom-laden riffs, and occasional gutturals of vocalist Nick Holmes were pretty much absent, and replaced with keyboard-driven tracks, and melodic vocals.
Gone was the bands imagery from Goth Godfathers in black and white photos taken on some moody gloomy moor in Yorkshire, were now all short haircuts, clean-shaven, and looking more like a boyband… and many OG PL fans were seething, abandoning the band completely.
But fear not ye merry Doomsters as we all know the band returned to the heavier roots, and has since given us absolute bangers such as Medusa amd Obsidian. And both Holmes and Mackintosh have delved even deeper into their dark, and heavyocity with sidebands like Vallenfyre, Strigio and Bloodbath.
So, rewind about five years ago, and Greg sends Nick a demo of what would eventually become the song ‘Instinct’, and from there, the songs just organically happened, and thus ‘HOST’ was born (or somewhat reborn). Now, I was a fan of the album Host, and I have been a longstanding fan of Paradise Lost since hearing ‘As I Die‘ way way back in the early 90s, so when I first heard about this ’side project’ I was elated! And no word of a lie, since I received the advance copy of the album a few weeks ago, I have spun it daily. And I mean. Daily.
If you’ve already heard the preceding singles ‘Tomorrows Sky‘, ‘My Only Escape‘ or ‘Hiding From Tomorrow‘ [see video below], you will already have a good idea of what to expect with ‘IX‘. But as an entire album collectively this is simply stunning. Slow brooding songs like ‘Inquisition’ sounds like it could have been on One Second, whereas ‘Wretched Soul’, and ‘Divine Emotion’ could easily be mid track on Believe in Nothing, or ’Symbol Of Life’. But in the same breath, they all sound like something new and fresh.
Yes, in a parallel universe if PL had continued in the direction of the album Host, this is quite likely what could have come next. But also the twenty three plus years in between has also made Holmes/Mackintosh even better song writers, and that is one of the things that shines most about this album.
In a nutshell, if you loved the albums that Paradise Lost released from One Second up until the massively underrated Self-Titled in 2005, it’s fair game you are going to love this album.
I genuinely hope this is not going to be a one trick pony. Yes I cannot wait for the next PL album… but with that, bring on more HOST as well.
HOST ‘IX‘ is available worldwide from February 24th. Order your copy via Nuclear Blast [CLICK HERE] or from your local record store.