By Laura Wiebe Taylor
I lost interest in Paradise Lost sometime in the mid-90s, and one opening slot for Opeth several years later did nothing to change my mind. But listening to the band’s latest album, Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us did. I hit play with low expectations, but as the faint sounds of a choir crescendo into the record’s first emphatic power chords I had to stop and listen. It’s hard to pin down what Paradise Lost is doing right here. It’s not the formula – all the pieces are familiar enough, from the heavy groove to the laid-back interludes, the driving riffs, the melodic leads, vocals sometimes gruff and sometimes goth. Underneath all that there’s an energy and intensity, a persistent pressure on the formula that threatens to break it apart. That explosion never happens but the feeling that it might remains. A few weak moments lure Paradise Lost back toward a more generic dark hard rock but the record doesn’t ever quite go there, anchored by a nostalgic weight that alludes to the doom metal band that was. It’s not death that unites here but a kind of musical life that flirts with death but never succumbs.