Paradise Lost, Lacuna Coil and Katatonia – Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton
Paul casts his critical eye over a night of doom metal.
A midweek trip to the Wulfrun Hall in Wolverhampton to celebrate 25 years of Paradise Lost, supported by the Italians Lacuna Coil and Swedish doom merchants Katatonia. Both bands cite Paradise Lost as a major influence although it is worth noting that Katatonia have been around for 20 years and Lacuna Coil celebrate their 18th anniversary next year. One of the major points of interest is the stability in these bands. Katatonia’s core has been intact since 1999 with the last line up changes four years ago, Lacuna Coil have had the same line up since 1998, and four of the five members of Paradise Lost have been in the band since 1988.
Having seen the Swedes on four previous occasions I knew what to expect from these guys. Late last year I saw them twice on their headline tour for the excellent Dead End Kings album at the Islington Academy and The Fleece and both times they were fantastic. With a huge back catalogue there was no shortage of quality. This time however, they had opted to play the whole of their 2003 offering, Viva Emptiness, as a 10th looked very appetising, as this is a very good album. However, like many albums, playing it live can highlight weaker tracks which are masked when listening elsewhere. The band opened with the album closer Inside the City of Glass and proceeded to perform it in reverse order. This was a smart move as it meant a set which built to a climax with fan favourites Ghost of the Sun, Sleeper and Criminals. Highlights included a stunning version of Evidence, the beautiful Omerta and Burn the Remembrance. This band doesn’t do huge posturing or have a massive stage presence, relying very much on the quality of the music to draw the crowd in. And here was the problem for me. Whilst Jonas Renkse’s melancholic delivery was pitch perfect as always, Niklas Sandin’s bass was turned up far too high in the mix, and the crushing vibration combined with Daniel Liljekvist’s exemplary drumming meant that the layered and delicate guitar work of Anders Nytstrom and Per Eriksson was lost for much of the set. This is an essential component of Katatonia’s sound and whilst others in my party didn’t feel the same, for me it detracted somewhat from the performance. Of course, it could have been that this was the first date of this run, and that some of the songs were being performed for the first time (ever in some cases I’m sure) but overall the band didn’t quite do justice to a very good album. However, I still can’t wait to see them again; hopefully
performing the Dethroned and Uncrowned album in its entirety instead. 7/10
I’d only seen Lacuna Coil once before and that was at Sonisphere in 2010 so it with anticipation that I waited for the Italians to take the stage … and they didn’t disappoint. With more room on stage to move around than Katatonia, and substantially more lighting which was used to the full, they opened up with one of four tracks from the excellent Dark Adrenaline album I Don’t Believe in Tomorrow with the dual vocals of Andrea Ferro and Cristina Scabbia combining superbly. One thing I always forget with this band is how damn heavy they are live. Using synthesised backing when necessary, the twin guitars of Cristiano Migliore and Marco Biazzi cut some serious riffage throughout their set. A second track from the latest album Kill The Light followed before a couple of fan favourites from Karmacode and Comalies, Fragments of Truth and Heaven’s a Lie respectively kept the tempo high. The crowd, which had increased substantially by now, reacted very favourably with massive ovations and much fist pumping. Ferro may not be the best vocalist in the world, especially with Scabbia the main focal point of the band (for reasons that escape me), but he has boundless energy; constantly encouraging the crowd and leaping around the stage to good effect. The band’s driving force is bassist and main songwriter Marco Coti Zelati and drummer Cristiano Mozzati, and they kept the engine room ticking over nicely. Swamped was followed by the stunning Senzafine which was sung in Italian and then Without Fear from Karmacode. By now the audience was singing along and the band was having a great time on stage with broad smiles from all. A superb trio to finish, Intoxicated and the rocking Trip The Darkness led to the finale of Spellbound from Shallow Life, and a deserved ovation from the Black Country crowd. Lacuna Coil confirmed that they have finished work on a new album so hopefully a tour will be forthcoming next year. One not to miss. 9/10
Time for the headliners. The last time I saw Paradise Lost was in the Great Hall in Cardiff two years ago where their evening was destroyed by the sound gremlins. Vocalist Nick Holmes ended up storming off stage that night after his microphone picked up the transmissions from local cab companies (I kid you not, it was like the scene at the air force base in Spinal Tap). No such problems tonight as the band were on fire and stormed through a ninety minute set which contained a range of classics from their 25 year history and from each of their thirteen albums. Kicking off with Mortals Watch The Day from 1994’s Shades of God, the band were on inspired form throughout. The rhythm section of bassist Steve Edmondson and drummer Adrian Erlandsson anchor the dark and doom laden sound of the band, and stand out particularly with the earlier works when the band were amongst the leading lights of the doom/death genre. They moved straight into So Much Is Lost from Host before Remembrance from Icon gave way to the title track from Gothic, the band’s second album and an all time gothic metal classic. Vocalist Nick Holmes, one of metal’s most underrated front men demonstrated his death metal qualities on this track, which was heavier than an anvil encased in concrete. Holmes has a wickedly dry sense of humour, and used it throughout, generating laughter from the fully engaged crowd. A quick blast from Draconian Times followed with Enchantment, rhythm guitarist Aaron Aedy mouthing the words and generally rocking out, whilst lead guitarist Greg Mackintosh picked out solo after solo. The title tracks from Faith Divides Us and latest release Tragic Idol were followed by Never For The Damned from the underrated In Requiem before a blistering version of Isolate from Symbol Of Life. The first of two tracks from One Second, Say Just Words closed the main set. Throughout the evening Paradise Lost had numerous visual displays on a screen at the rear of the stage, with each track having separate illustrations linked to the relevant album. Clearly a lot of thought had gone into this and it was impressive. The band concluded the evening with a four song encore, all rarities. The encore kicked off with Rotting Misery from 1990’s Lost Paradise, all doom and death growl with possibly the heaviest sound of the night; the floor was shaking. Diehards around the audience beamed with delight as the title track from One Second was followed by The Belief from Icon and the set closer Over The Madness from Paradise Lost. A stunning evening from one of the UK’s most influential yet underrated bands that were on top form. 10/10