Paradise Lost have been respected purveyors of heavy music for almost three decades. Weathering some stylistic changes along the way, the band have in recent years returned to their roots, with 2015’s ‘The Plague Within’ death / doom leanings seeing the band revitalised. We spoke to founding guitarist Aaron Aedy at Bloodstock 2016, about the bands metamorphosis and longevity. Once Solemn: Eamon O’Neill.
Hi Aaron, how are you today?
Phenomenal, and a little sprightly. I’m excited, I’m playing a concert – it’s my favourite thing.
Paradise Lost are famously painted as gloomy Northerners, but you seem to have brought the sunshine with you.
You know what? Something’s going wrong with the order; I ordered rain and a bit of wind, and it’s gone wrong. You never know though, there’s plenty of time; the weather could change.
The band will bring the doom anyhow though, right?
Of course. We’ve had to get used to playing on sunlit stages; it’s summer festival season, so it’s always going to happen at some point. I think we’re probably going to be playing our slowest, most miserable song of all time today; ‘Beneath The Broken Earth’ from our new album. It’s such a slow song, and we hardly move because you can’t; as it’s just so slow. But people are just listening, and at the end I do get quite emotional. I love the doom stuff.
The latest album ‘The Plague Within’ seems to have taken the band to another level.
Yeah, we’ve had an amazing reaction to it, but it’s been building more and more for the last few albums. Ever since [2002’s] ‘Symbol Of Life’ it’s been slowly building, but since ‘In Requiem’  and ‘Tragic Idol’ , it’s been great. The last album, we beat some very big bands to ‘Album Of The Year’ in Metal Hammer Germany last year, and the tour is probably the best tour we’ve had in nearly twenty years. It’s been received really well. The band’s been going twenty-eight years, and it’s quite remarkable, really.
The biggest talking point on ‘The Plague Within’ was Nick Holmes’ vocal styling. Was that a big step for you, or was it a natural progression?
It has been getting slowly gruffer over the last few albums. He’s fancied doing it for a little while, but I think he’s always been worried about if he went back to growling, when you’re doing a tour and when you’re doing five nights out of six, he was wondering if the growling would blow out his singing voice for the other songs. Because we’ve got such a broad spectrum of music over the last fourteen albums, he was worried about not being able to do it all to his potential, and I think when he did [death metal super group] Bloodbath he was like; “actually, I find growling easier than singing”. He’s bloody ace at it, and it fits really well. It’s good because it’s another dynamic; you don’t just have to have the dynamics in the music throughout the set, you’ve got it with the vocals as well.
That must be quite a brave step in a way, because people will notice the change in vocal styling very quickly.
It’s just part of our arsenal we haven’t used for a while as much. There has been some gruffness, but not quite like that. I think once he did Bloodbath, I think he just really enjoyed himself, and it was like; “hang on, I haven’t blown my voice, it’s fine”. I think it’s the confidence he gained from doing that, and I think he didn’t want to ruin anything we had lined up with the ‘normal’ stuff.
‘The Plague Within’ has been particularly well-received.
The thing is, we’ve got back to really doing what we really enjoy, and I think that sometimes you really need to go on a journey to find out what you love. When Greg [guitarist Gregor Mackintosh] first sent me the demo for ‘Beneath Broken Earth’ when he wrote it, I just sent him an email back saying; “this is f*****g fantastic!”. Me and Greg are the big doom fans in the band, and he knows that when he sends a doom one, I’ll like it. I was just blown away when I heard that.
So you still inspire each other, after all this time?
Yeah, but the only reason we’re still going is because we enjoy what we do; it’s the reason we started, and it’s the reason we changed, because we didn’t want to get stuck in a rut and be bored of a formula.
The biggest change stylistically, started around the time of the ‘One Second’ album in 1997.
Yeah, and it was more with [1999’s]‘Host’, but ‘One Second’, I felt, was quite a nice blend of electronic and what we’d done with ‘Draconian Times’; different enough that we weren’t feeling like we were repeating ourselves. I mean, if we’d have done four ‘Draconian Times’ in a row, we’d have split up. We’ve never been like; “all right, this one’s doing well, let’s do more”. To be honest with you, if something does well, we’re more likely to change.
Those albums were certainly the most divisive in the bands career.
I think people going back and listening to ‘Host’ now don’t mind it, which is weird. But there was three things about ‘Host’; it was because we had cut our hair, signed to EMI, and did an electronic album, basically.
Did people see an image before they heard a song?
Well that was it, and people thought that EMI had asked us to do that, but in fact, when we gave EMI the album they went; *disappointed tone* “oh. We expected something heavier”. They wanted something heavy, but it was just one of them things; we had long hair for ten or fifteen years, and we were just sick of that as well, and it just all came at the same time.
How do you view ‘Host’ now?
We’ve just got the rights back to ‘Host’, so we’re thinking about remixing it. It’s got a very pop production as well; it’s very pop on one level. There’s a lot of dynamics in the songs, and when we played them live, they actually had a lot more energy to them, when we did the ‘Host’ tour.
So you’re talking of a remix, rather than a remaster?
No, remastering more so, really. I don’t know, if some of the guitar sounds want replacing then maybe, but I don’t know.
It was an important chapter in your career.
If you’re happy with where you are today, you’ve got to accept every stepping stone along the way, and they’re all part of the learning experience, the same as life. And do you know what? Twenty-eight and a half years we’ve been going, and we’ve loving it more than we ever have; we’re getting on better than we ever have. I’ve known Greg since I was 11, and Nick since I was 12; it’s about friends first - that’s the best thing about the band. And we do have a laugh, especially doing photo sessions, we’re usually wetting ourselves laughing and we have to get into serious mode. We’re called miserable b******s, but it’s actually quite a different thing when we’re together.
Paradise Lost are arguable bigger now than you’ve ever been.
You find that the longer you go on, you feel quite humble about the fact that; how are we still here?! It’s quite humbling, really. It’s like; all right, you’ve got to do something that’s okay, but people don’t have to stick with it, and sometimes, some parts of the press didn’t want people to stick with you, at certain points in your career. But the good thing about the rock scene especially, is it’s a very loyal scene, and people are banner-bearers for their favourite bands.
Paradise Lost have an incredibly loyal fan base.
We do; we’re incredibly lucky. They travel in groups all around the world to see us as well. It’s a real community. That’s something we’re quite pleased of, as well.
Finally, where is Paradise Lost headed next?
We’re starting to write the new one any minute. We’re hopefully going to record it springtime-ish, with a bit of luck. I can’t see it being any less heavy than this one.