The album's Medusa, but Paradise Lost are far from stoney-faced

Paradise Lost. Picture by Danny Payne
Paradise Lost. Picture by Danny Payne

  You know your band has been knocking around for a while when your new drummer wasn’t even born when the group started.

And to add insult to injury for a doom-metal act, he's not even a Black Sabbath fan...

Paradise Lost have chalked up an impressive 15 albums in their 30 year history, and their latest, Medusa, is the first with 23-year-old Waltteri Väyrynen behind the kit.

It also sees them continue the path laid by previous album The Plague Within, which saw the band return to their roots, making some of the heaviest music of their career. 

Frontman Nick Holmes tells The Guide: 'You start to remember why you got into it in the first place.

'When you start as kid, you’re often into one very specific style, and we were very much young death-metal/thrash guys. When we'd played for six-seven years I started to listen to a lot of other things like Aerosmith, Dead Can Dance, Sisters of Mercy and a lot of the goth stuff. So then you want to change stuff and try something else, and that’s what we did around the mid/late-'90s, but now we’re knocking 50, we’re thinking what do we like?

'And then you listen to the old stuff, and it’s kind of a breath of fresh air. A lot of my peers who’ve been around since the late-'80s say a similar thing – you go back to what got you into it in the first place, it’s strange, but it’s the rotation of things over the years.'

Medusa has been well-received across the board by fans and the music press, and the material has been going down well live too.

'We do a lot of material from the new album live. I don’t see the point in doing a new album and then not playing anything from it, which I guess if everyone thinks it’s rubbish… but if it’s gone down well, and you get a good grasp of these things from social media these days, then it’s all right.

'We write always write music with the intention of playing it live these days. Gone are the days of thinking, ok, we’ll leave that in the studio and not bother with that live. If we can’t play the whole album live, it’s kind of pointless.'

Last year saw the band put out a 20th anniversary rerelease of 1997's One Second album, a game-changer for the Yorkshire act, they adopted a much more synth-based direction for the first time.

'When I listen to that album it reminds me of a very specific place in my life. A couple of guys in the band were going through not particularly great times in their life, and that had some impact on the music, but I can appreciate the songwriting and the darkness in it, even if it wasn’t really metal we were doing, especially on the (1999) Host album.
'I think we did some of our greatest material around that time, but I sometimes wonder, if social media had hit mainstream adoption when those albums came out, what the online reviews would have been like. We would probably have killed ourselves!'

This was a time when it was deemed controversial for a metal act to cut their hair short.

'I remember when Metallica cut their hair, it was like a green-light for everyone else. We don’t get it now, but we still got it for years after: "Why did you cut your hair?"

And Nick laughs: 'The thing is with me now is it’s going thin on top, so if anyone does ask me now, then they notice my head and they look as if they wish they hadn’t said it, which is pretty funny.'

For Medusa, Paradise Lost stuck with Jaime Gomez Arellano in the studio who also worked on Plague with them.

'For us it’s about having a kind of common ground with the engineers or producers we work with. For us it’s not so much about the producers now, we tirelessly demo the songs before we go into the studio and we have a good idea of what we want, so it’s more about having a really good engineer who understands the music, especially drums and guitars with metal music.

'Gomez has got a really good ear for that – and he’s a drummer as well. It’s the ease of working with someone we like.'

Over their three decades, it is only the drummers who have changed in an admirably consistent line-up.

'They’ve exploded!' Nick cackles, referencing muso mockumentary-fave This Is Spinal Tap.

'Our first drummer Martin – I was out with him the other night, we’re still friends. They’ve all been in for a fair amount of time, they’ve all had a fair crack of the whip.

'Waltteri a classic example of an internet-generation drummer. He’s grown up watching all of these YouTube clips of these amazing drummers from over the years, and he’s so versatile as a drummer – he can turn his hand to anything. Usually fast drummers can’t drum slow and vice versa, so these hardcore-thrash drummers can’t do the slow stuff, but he can do pretty much anything.

'He’s not a fan of Black Sabbath though, which is pretty weird. He can do that drumming, but it’s not his thing. He slags of Black Sabbath and we’re like: "What, how dare you?!"

Their output has also been remarkably consistent, averaging an album every other year. Have they ever wanted to take a more extended break from the band?

'In the last few years, Greg (Mackintosh, lead guitarist) and myself have started doing side projects, he has Vallenfyre, I do Bloodbath – a change is as good as a break. Both bands are more extreme than what we do with Paradise Lost.

'Once you release an album and get into the touring cycle, three years goes in the blink of an eye. And we do get a fair bit of downtime when we’re writing, so that’s a break to a certain degree.

'And if an album does well, the tour will go on!'

'Nowadays you’ve got to be on your game, you’ve got to be out there gigging or you’re going to die.'

The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea

Friday, February 16

wedgewood-rooms.co.uk