Paradise Lost / Draconian Times give us a greater respect for both album and band

From The Abyss: 1 December 2020

In 1995 the now legendary UK Doom/Death/Gothic Metal outfit ‘Paradise Lost’ released their ‘Draconian Times’ album. Considered a masterpiece by many, it was a piece which defined them creatively, and firmly placed them on the Metal map.

Paradise Lost – Draconian Times 25th Anniversary edition (Music For Nations)

Release Date: 4 December 2020

Words: Jools Green

Two and a half decades later, ‘Draconian Times’ is set to be reissued on vinyl to mark it’s 25th anniversary via Music For Nations.

Guitarist Aaron Aedy told us: “The Draconian Times era was the two amazing years of ’95 and ’96 which saw us touring South America and Japan for the first time and getting to play with Ozzy, The Sex Pistols and more.

“It then culminated in a tour finishing concert that every young Metal fan of the 80’s and 90’s wanted to go to, let alone play – the last ever legendary Donington Monsters of Rock.

“Dreams came true for us all during the whole Draconian Times period. 25 years later, we are still very proud and humbled by the whole experience, so we are very pleased to see it reissued on vinyl again, as it has not been available in that format for a long time – I’m also excited to get one myself!”

From my own perspective ‘Draconian Times’ is also a hugely definitive album which helped to shape my taste in music and whilst my tastes have become more extreme over the years, my love for this album remains strong.

Album cover of Draconian Times, by Paradise Lost

This time around the release contains not only the original twelve tracks, but a further thirteen tracks bringing the listening time up to a chunky one hundred minutes.

Re-listening now with a critical ear I am hugely impressed as to just how well this album has aged, leaving me with an even greater respect for both the album and those involved in its creation.

‘Draconian Times’ is such an iconic and emotive listen right from the opener, the reflective, soul rouser ‘Enchantment’ with its subtle symphonic close.

Next, there are my three all-time favourite and definitive Paradise Lost tracks. First, the hauntingly complex and dualistic ‘Hallowed Land’. With its meld of the reflective, it is punchy with magnificent vocal layering, soaring second half leadwork and superb drum rhythms,

Second, the bleak yet hugely addictive ‘The Last Time’ with its haunting second half solo and, third the dark and bleak ‘Forever Failure’, with the unnerving Charles Manson soundbite: “I don’t really know what sorry means, I’ve been sorry all my life…..I was sorry I was born, is what my mother told me.”

It never fails to give me the shivers, even after all these years.

Next you get the driving and punchy chugger ‘Once Solemn’, followed by the haunting, yet raw ‘Shadowkings’, paring back to the bleak ‘Elusive Cure’, with its haunting closing leadwork. This is followed by ‘Yearn for Change’, the despondent ‘Shades of God’, the bleakly powerful ‘Hands of Reason’, the ominously reflective ‘I See Your Face’ and the beautifully bleak closer ‘Jaded’.

At this point you get to the bonus rarities, which consists of BBC Live Session versions of ‘Shadowkings’, ‘Sweetness’ from the ’94 ‘Seals the Sense’ EP, ‘Once Solemn’ and ‘Yearn For Change’, which have the added bonus of that rugged rawness of a live performance.

Demo versions of; ‘The Last Time’, ‘Forever Failure’, ‘Shadow Kings’, ‘I See Your Face’, ‘Hallowed Land’ which has a darker more sinister leaning , ‘Hand of Reason’ , ‘Last Desire’ and ‘Masters of Misrule’, which are all excellent quality recordings despite being demos.

Demo tracks can sometimes be a little rough around the edges and all these have a slightly different emphasis and intonation than the album versions, which demonstrates how they have developed over the years.

Finally, we have a cover of Sisters of Mercy’s ‘Walk Away’, which is easily as good as the original version, but with a slightly more rugged, acerbic and brutal edge, thanks to Nick Holmes vocal delivery.

Working with Simon Efemy (Napalm Death, The Wildhearts, Obituary), Paradise Lost recorded ‘Draconian Times’ at Surrey studio Ridge Farm, as well as Bedfordshire’s suitably gothic mansion Great Linfield Manor.

It went on to become their most successful album to date and is often seen as the band’s defining record.

Available on CD, vinyl and digitally, the 25th anniversary of ‘Draconian Times’ is available to pre-order now.

The double LP is pressed onto heavyweight audiophile vinyl, housed in a premium gatefold sleeve and presented on exclusive transparent blue vinyl. The Deluxe LP comes with a three-colour splatter design that compliments the front cover artwork.

A definite collector’s item.

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