1999 was an interesting year for metal music as the end of the millennium grow close, a mixture of releases from bands of old and new began to change the soundscape. With Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Battle For Los Angeles’ going double platinum, Slipknot’s debut album bringing a whole new generation of teenage metalheads (maggots) to the fold. Nu metal was at its peak, with Limp Bizkit’s ‘Significant Other’ Korn’s ‘Issues’ and Machine Head’s ‘The Burning Red’. Not forgetting the soundtrack to The Matrix movie which really brought bands like Rammstein into the spotlight, ‘Du Hast’ has forever been a classic since. Add into this mix Paradise Lost’s ‘Host’, a seemingly large step away from ‘One Second’ in its strong electronic influence. However in a time of experimentation, I feel they produced an album that was just ahead of its time.
Fast forward to 2018 and the remastered release of the album, plus its first ever pressing on vinyl. Singer Nick Holmes comments: “With the ‘Host’ album we wanted to take the ‘One Second’ concept further and make a very dark album with even more subtlety. It was a bold leap from all our previous albums, a leap too far some would say, but for me, the new remastered version really shows it’s still one of the band’s strongest albums in terms of song writing, atmosphere and sheer misery.”
Opening with electro beats and synths; ‘So Much is Lost’ is a fantastic introduction to the album. Music aside the lyrics are deep and show a great reflection of a band who wanted to express how they were feeling at the time. The string section melts beautifully into the electronics and melodies. Which flow throughout, taking in different influences and making a beautiful album. ‘Nothing Sacred’ has tender break downs that really pull you into the mood of the song, as Nick’s voice is show cased in full. Lyrics like “Without the strength to hold, onto what’s sinking, I’ll pretend its all show, I can reveal. But it seems like its going wrong again”. You sincerely feel the atmosphere and emotion put into the song.
‘In All Honesty’ brings in the classic Paradise Lost intensity, with verses building up to a fantastic chorus. The heavy beats and drums, make it a song that could have been from ‘One Second’. The string section welcomes us into ‘Harbour’, combined with stripped down electronics. The focus is on Nick’s vocals, delivering the despairing lyrics with such heartfelt grace. It very much brings us into the middle section of the album, that has almost an uplifting vibe. ‘Ordinary Days’ has a strong harmonies, giving a peaceful ambience. The down tempo of ‘It’s Too Late’ and its sinister melody, brings sadness with female vocals entwined with Nick’s.
‘Permanent Solution’ is the heaviest track on the album, with guitar over electronic and synth chords. It is my favourite on the album and was the second single released from it. The catchy tune and mesmerising synths, really grabbed me at the time. However even now it still sticks with me, and brings a smile to my face. The electronics were really embraced on ‘Behind The Grey’ which I first heard on a Metal Hammer CD, other than ‘So Much is Lost’ it really showed how much Paradise Lost had embraced a new sound. Having always enjoyed my electronic music as well as my metal, this track is a fantastic mix of both. The song ‘Wreck’ has an intro that could of almost have been taken straight out of Blade Runner, with fleeting and harrowing sounds throughout.
The beats and tempo are back with ‘Made The Same’, as another catchy chorus is embraced. It is another slice of classic Paradise Lost with an electronic twist, is it synth pop? Maybe at times, but that’s not a bad thing. An industrial vibe opens ‘Deep’, with heavy beats and thick layers of synth, guitar and drums. The ambiance and simplicity of ‘Year of Summer’ brings us towards the end of the album, with title track ‘Host’. Which is a low key affair, bringing with it more darkness and despair. “I see no life behind your weary eyes, I see the looks you struggle to disguise, I’ve seen all vital signs begin to slip, Oh its much too late for you to aim, you only miss”. As the strings and synths fade out, we have reached the end.
The album itself has always been great in my eyes, at the time it received mixed reviews due to Paradise Lost’s change in direction. However I feel it was just ahead of its time, as electronics in metal now days is much more widely accepted. If you are looking for a metal/doom Paradise Lost album, then this is not for you. If you embraced their change with ‘One Second’ and enjoy hearing Nick sing about misery and darkness, with some electro ambiance, this album is for you. As for the remastered edition, it has more depth in the music. You can single out more of he electronics and guitar work, Nick’s vocals have more clarity in places too. Overall I enjoyed the album the first time around and appreciate what has been put into this remastered edition.