An album by the British doom metal pioneers, Paradise Lost. It is their first release on the German metal label, GUN, and it was released in 2002.

A brief sonic history of Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost have been through several sonic changes throughout their history. Their 1990 debut album, Lost Paradise, was standard fare grind-and-grumble death metal. They gradually ditched the death growls in favor of melody and low tempo dirges, which culminated with their 1995 release, Draconian Times. By now, the growling had completely disappeared; replaced by tuneful singing and misery-themed, doom-laden rock songs.

Having essentially perfected the doom metal genre, they moved on to experiment with electronics and even softer arrangement. The release of Host in 1999 confused and alienated some fans and won others over, with its emphasis on electronics and sampling.

As it seems, Paradise Lost now seem to be heading back to the well. 2001's Believe in Nothing still had electronics, but they were no longer in the prominent forefront.

And now, Symbol of Life. This seems to be the most "live" album from the boys in recent memory. Vocalist Nick Holmes isn't limiting himself to his, admittedly beautiful, singing voice, but adds a bit of throat, which imbues stronger emotion behind the songs. The guitars have been tuned an extra couple steps down and now seems to deliver more power. Even the drummer, who must've gotten a bit bored with the simplistic arrangements on their former album, gets a bit of exercise.

Symbol of Life still contains the electronic twinges that now seem like such an integral part of Paradise Lost's sound, but the boys have definitely decided to "return to rock", as it were, and deliver a record that is both sonically powerful and emotionally packed. If anything, the last track - "Channel for the Pain" - should convince you that there's still some smack left in the Yorkshire five-some.

The track list

  1. Isolate
  2. Erased (first single)
  3. Two Worlds
  4. Pray Nightfall
  5. Primal
  6. Mystify
  7. Perfect Mask
  8. No Celebration
  9. Self Obsessed
  10. Symbol of Life
  11. Channel for the Pain

Why, oh why - tell me why it didn't occur to me to node the lyrics to the title song the first time around? I must punish myself!

Anyway, to explicate. The title track also doubles as the pivotal track of the album. Not only does it share the title with the album, but it also offers some explanation to the artwork theme; namely the snake that transforms into a gun. It's also one of the most depressing songs Holmes has ever written, in my opinion - a true suicide anthem of resigned despair.

Musically, this is the track where the boys indulge themselves with full-on string quartet backing. Thankfully, it is used much more sparingly than the "orchestra track" on their previous album ("Divided"), where the orchestra almost drowned out the band. Here, the strings take a backseat and let the haunting melody manifest itself in a truly cohesive manner, instead of sounding like two separate elements competing for attention.

Symbol of Life
Paradise Lost
Symbol of Life

All alone, beside myself ...
all alone, beside myself ...
and I've troubles on my mind ...
And I've reached the depths of life ...
and I hear that death's alright.
Still, I wait for you to try ...

When the dreams have been and gone
and the torment has begun,
my emotions run!

Can't get by with what I've got!
Always dwell on what I've lost!
Just a loaded gun - a symbol of my life!
A symbol of my life!

On the floor I crawl and writhe ...
as the day turns into night ...
I remove myself from sight ...
And I've reached the depths, alright.
And I hear death's part of life.
Still, I wish that you would try ...

When a dream has been and gone
and the torment has begun,
the rejections done!

I get by with what I've got;
always aware of what I've lost!
Just a loaded gun - a symbol of my life!
A symbol of my life!

nothing more ... nothing more to say to me. nothing more to say ...

Holmes / Mackintosh

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