Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Paradise Lost - Icon (1993)

Icon is an album that usually receives a lot of praise. The reason for this is difficult to understand, as it is very disappointing. Released in September 1993, the third full-length from Paradise Lost might as well have come from another band, as it is so far removed from Lost Paradise. In fact, despite the similarities in sound, it even lacks the positive qualities heard on Shades of God. This is incredibly generic, consisting of way too much Heavy Metal and not enough Doom.

Musically, this is a very dull record. It has its moments, but the majority of the songs are boring and not at all what one would expect from this band. "Embers Fire" starts things out decently, but it's all downhill after that. Much of the material is a little too fast to create any feeling of doom, yet still not enough to be considered aggressive. Rather than creating an atmosphere of darkness, there are actually up-tempo melodies all over the album. One of the most offensive tracks, in this regard, is "Remembrance".  It is almost as if the band was not self-aware in the slightest bit, having no idea that they were among those responsible for the birth of Death/Doom, and that people wanted to hear dark and gloomy music from them. This seems designed to be more easily digested, with short and bland compositions that really accomplish nothing and certainly never challenge the listener on any level (other than the challenge of remaining awake). There are some mildly interesting lead passages, but these are not enough to save these simplistic and mundane tracks. Oddly, though it has almost nothing in common with Gothic, Icon still comes across as very cheesy. A lot of this is due to the vocals, being even more clean and sounding similar to James Hetfield. The vocal patterns are just bad, often going for the most obvious and cliche melodies. This is not helped by the fact that the album contains so much filler. Had they dropped a lot of these more lackluster songs and worked to more fully develop those that had promise, such as "Joys of the Emptiness", this album could have been a lot better. As for the production, it is stronger than on Shades of God, though it is a matter of too little, too late. By the time the band managed to get a fuller sound again, the material was so weak that it didn't really deserve it.

In the end, Icon is hardly worth bothering with, even for loyal fans of Paradise Lost. The brief moments of doom are surrounded by so much mediocre and pointless riffs and awkward vocals that this is a somewhat painful listen. Even for those seeking something more goth-influenced, there is only really one song of interest. There are a handful of decent ideas that could have been turned into something, had the band slowed down and put forth more effort. The only depressing thing about this release is how utterly bad it is, compared to their previous efforts.