It’s a brisk Saturday evening in Bristol, with the distant hum of bagpipes (I have no idea where from) floating through the breeze. I stand out side the Bristol Thekla, a boat that is permanently moored to the dock. With a capacity of only 400 and a sold out show, it is going to be rammed for tonight’s Paradise Lost show.
I take a vantage point up on the balcony for this evenings show, as the main floor and bar area fill up fast. Last time I was here in January I saw Batushka, who wore shrouds and put on a ceremonial performance. As King Goat [4.0] arrive on stage with their singer in similar attire, it is almost a bit deja vu. As he stands on the stage shrouded in black with only his ginger beard visible, the evening begins. I wasn’t overly familiar with King Goat’s set, however having listened to their debut album ‘Conduit’ a handful of times their style of progressive doom was enjoyable. Much of the short set was songs from their up and coming album ‘Debut of Aeons’ due out 20th April. The music was full of atmospheric melodies and ambiance, creating an enchanting dark vibe. The guitar musicianship was solid throughout, giving a base for their singer Trim’s strong distinctive voice. Who’s deep vocals soared over the harmonies majestically like on the song ‘Conduit’.
The evening continues with Outshine [4.0] from Gothenburg Sweden, who perform a more commercial doom/goth style set. Singer Tony’s vocals are very accessible as he sings gracefully with each and every song. Catchy songs like ‘Liar’ and ‘Broken’ had the crowd singing along. Most of the set is from their recent album release ‘1313’ which has a lot of hard rock riffs, pumping drums and energised choruses. Their whole set was very enjoyable and created a united crowd of singing and headbanging, ensuring the crowd was pumped for the rest of the night.
As the heat rises and everyone does their best to squeeze into this tiny venue, the lights dim and the members of Paradise Lost [4.5] make their way onto stage. Which is so small that guitarist Aaron Aedy is hidden behind a speaker that hangs from the right of the stage, but you still know he is there throughout the set. Having only seen Paradise a few months before in London’s iconic Electric Ballroom, this was quite a different and intimate experience. Although the set was the same, the evening had plenty to offer. Especially from vocalist Nick Holmes humour and banter with the crowd and the rest of the band. Opening with one of many songs from 2017’s ‘Medusa’ album, ‘From The Gallows’ is a nice step into the doom gloom, before being kicked up a notch with ‘ Hallowed Land’.
As we reach ‘One Second’ the evening is flowing well, with everyone enjoying themselves. Drummer Waltteri commands the drums well from the back, as he sings along at moments. With such a small stage it is nice that he is not lost behind his kit at the back. With the ‘One Second’ backing track ending, we have the intro to ‘Medusa’. A heavy intense song with strong guitars melodies and thick bass, in comparison. With an epic guitar solo from Greg, ‘Medusa’ is a strong choice to the set.
Paradise Lost’s ability to mix their current doom power with older more goth songs, gives this evenings set a good flow. With songs like ‘Erased’, ‘Forever Failure’ and ‘Eternal’ the nostalgia for the Paradise Lost of old is strong, as Nick sings and growls in equal measure. As Greg takes full swing into ‘Pity The Sadness’ his amp blows out, the heaviness was just too much for it! After some swift rearranging of cables and equipment, they continue but skip the rest of the song. Opting to go with ‘Blood and Chaos’ in hope of not blowing anything else. The song is quite muddy and their tech continues to balance the sound, which never quite gets back to as good as it was.
The intro to ‘Faith Divides Us – Death Units Us’ works well till the guitars and drums drown out Nick’s vocals, which continues infrequently from here till the end of the set. Which is a shame as ‘Embers Fire’ is a favourite I’ve seem many times before, but just doesn’t get the right balance. With time during our interlude before the encore, the tech does some more tweaks before continuing.
‘No Hope in Sight’ from ‘Plague Within’ opens the encore with some much needed heavy guitars and bass, with the drums turned down. As Nick begins to sing I’m pleased to realise that some of the balance in the sound is back. Continuing the doom with ‘The Longest Winter’ everyone moves in unison, as the deep bass of Steve plays the slow bellowing foundation of the song. No Paradise Lost show would be complete with out ‘Just Say Words’, as that memorable piano intro kicks in, the Thekla erupts. Ending a very enjoyable evening, despite the technique issues. Paradise Lost gave it their all and proved why after so many years they are pioneers in the doom metal genre.