Classics: Paradise Lost - Icon

In the "Classics" posts, I talk about the albums that I believe are true metal classics, or at the least meant something special to me. These will usually be releases that are several years old. If you haven't heard them before, I definitely recommend checking these out.

Icon by Paradise Lost was my first metal love. I listened to some metal bands before this release, but this was the first one that really got to me. I remember taping Headbangers Ball on MTV at the time, and in one of the shows there was a special on Paradise Lost that contained 30 minutes of live footage of one of their recent concerts. It was filmed in black and white with some grain added to the footage too. This worked remarkably well in setting up the atmosphere. The first song, Mortals Watch The Day, immediately caught my attention. There was something about this band that I hadn't heard before. When they started playing their newer songs, like Embers Fire and True Belief, it felt like coming home. It was if I had found something I had been looking for all my life.
It didn't take me long to go out and get the CD. I would just keep on listening to it. I bought their t-shirts. I wrote the lyrics in my school binders. I would even wonder if I could go a day without listening to it... It contained so many well thought out songs. It had a perfect opener in Embers Fire that set the heavy, melancholic tone for the rest of the album. It had uptempo songs (well, sort of) in Dying Freedom and Widow. It had one of the best metal anthems in True Belief. In the song, Christendom, they had a female vocalist contrasting with Nick Holmes' grunts. It was actually very well balanced and even varied for a doom metal release at that time.
With hindsight, I can now say that this CD was special in other ways as well. Up until then, my friends and I used to listen to more or less the same music. This album however, marked a change in this regard. For my friends, it was about as hard and heavy as it should get. For me, it was the start of getting into heavier and more extreme music.
As for Paradise Lost, I still find this to be their best release. I believe it marked a change for them as well. Icon seems to me the culmination of what they had been doing till then. Over the years, I managed to get my hands on their older releases as well. Those albums had some good songs as well (especially Gothic is worth checking out as well), but I didn't feel they had the same impact. After Icon, they distanced themselves more and more of the doom metal genre. They softened down their metal roots with cleaner singing and less heavy guitar play. I still bought Draconian Times and One Second, but after that I lost track of them.
As far as I'm concerned, Icon is one of those releases that helped shape the metal genre in the early nineties.

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