Paradise Lost: Wulfrun Hall
Another trip to the Midlands for a night of dark morbidity and three bands who proved excellent value for money. Having dined in a pub that resembled the Cantina in Episode IV, we headed for the Wulfrun Hall and realised why the area was flooded with some rather aggressive looking chaps; it was fight night at the Civic Hall. Skipping past the queue who were looking forward to a night of professional boxing, we joined the much smaller line waiting patiently for the doors to open.
Bang on 7:30pm opening act Lucifer (8) hit the stage. A heady mix of Sabbath, Cathedral, Zeppelin and Sleep, Lucifer know where their roots are and stick closely to them. Doom fused with heavy riffs and sludgy bass lines, this is a band who, similar to Orchid are sat firmly in the 70s but with a sound that really appeals. Given the fact that vocalist Johanna Sadonis (formerly of The Oath) and Cathedral guitarist Gaz Jennings comprise half of the band, it probably isn't a surprise. The band put in an excellent half hour with tracks from their debut release Lucifer I. Sadnois’ impressive voice and Nicks/Joplin moves captures the attention whilst alongside Jennings riffage, Dino Gollnick (complete with Blackmore style Pilgrim hat) and drummer Andrew Prestige laid down the heaviest of rhythms. As the crowd slowly built, Lucifer’s driving sound produced a solid and enthusiastic response.
A quick turnaround allowed Swedish Death Metallers Tribulation (9) a good 40 minutes to make a mark. And make a mark they did. Black metal is a strange genre and if done well can be really captivating. Tribulation hit the ground running and delivered an impressive set featuring several tracks from this year’s excellent The Children Of The Night as well as a couple of older numbers. Vocalist and bassist Johannes Andersson commands the centre stage, prowling back and fore and possessing a pretty impressive death growl to boot. Meanwhile guitarist Jonathan Hulten gurns and shreds simultaneously, never stopping in his movement around the stage. Fellow axeman Adam Zaars is more reserved but provides some of the most brutal chords. At the back Jakob Ljungberg made time keeping look easy. For all the interest in the shapes the band threw, if their music was shite it wouldn't mean anything. Fortunately Tribulation are musically excellent, with much more variety than the balls out thrash to death approach of many of their cohort. Melody, layered hooks combine with pounding heaviness to provide a pretty impressive outfit. Stunning choice of warm up band.
A smooth change over and the house lights dimmed as Paradise Lost (10) took the stage. Two years ago they played a 25th anniversary set at the same venue which contained a whole host (sorry!) of classic tracks culled from almost every album. They were excellent that evening and confirmed why they are one of the best metal bands that the UK has ever produced. Led by the dour (but brilliant) Nick Holmes, the band delivered a set that was set to awesome from the first note. A combination of new tracks from the unbelievably good The Plague Within release, which were paced throughout the set (take note Jeff Waters) and merged with old classics. Opening with No Hope In Sight, the band struggled with a very muddy sound for the first couple of songs with Adrian Erlandsson’s drums and Steve Edmondson's bass overpowering the guitars of Gregor Mackintosh and Aaron Aedy whilst Nick Holmes struggled to get his vocals heard. However, by the time they crashed into Gothic, balance had been restored and the doom laden guitar work allowed one of my all-time favourites to be delivered with aplomb.
Of course, this was the first time the new stuff has been played live in the UK and it was interesting how simply tracks such as Terminal, the brutally heavy Victims Of The Past and Return To The Sun slotted into the set list. In between songs the Yorkshire delivery from Holmes was superb with deadpan sarcasm prevalent. A rare outing for Praise Lamented Shade from 2007’s In Requiem reminded you of the heritage of the band. Gregor Mackintosh, headband and dreads flowing dealt with the lead work whilst Aedy plays an understated supporting rhythm. The brutally heavy duo of Flesh From Bone and the death crushingly heavy Beneath Broken Earth led to a massive response for As I Die, complete with audience participation before Requiem closed the main proceedings.
An encore of four songs followed, which was excellent and set closer Say Just Words once again proved what a vital band Paradise Lost are. As good, if not better than two years ago, Paradise Lost are firmly established as a brilliant band; it’s just a shame that the venue was only half full.