After the heat wave in Sydney the day prior, it was as if the heavens had opened up, with some light rain, and a more comfortable temperature. Not brought on by the man preaching on George Street about finding God, but more so from the Gods of Gothic Death Doom, Paradise Lost who brought the winter from Halifax, England with them.
Cruciform were up first. It’s safe to say that the five-piece Sydney locals were pioneers of the death doom scene, forming in 1990, only 2 years after Paradise Lost, who started in 1988.
Michael Lenton of Dearly Beheaded proved to be a beast behind the kit and microphone, sounding just like one, with overpowering lungs of steel. Samantha Kempster, making up the beauty behind ‘the beauty and the beast’, is a standout on keyboards, adding a gothic atmosphere with the bellowing bass of Lee Tassaker, bandmates in Lycanthia.
The demonic vocals of Tony Mulhearn, who also made up the guitar duo alongside Leon Kelly, bandmates from Dearly Beheaded, provided monstrous riffs which made Godzilla look like a light weight in comparison.
Mulhearn introduced the band and tells us this is their last song, which happens to be a new tune. One punter yells out “Bullshit!” as the set was relatively short… Mulhearn laughs and responds “you’re here to see Paradise Lost”.
The second offering from Sydney was the more recent Rise of Avernus, only forming in 2011, showing the progressive side of Gothic Doom. The guitar licks of front man Ben vanVollenhoven combined with the keyboard of Mares Refalæda brought on applause from the crowd.
Stomping riffs and what sounded like an orchestra composed by Satan soaked the theatre in atmosphere losing one in the abyss of sound.
While Andrew Craig strikes at the kit with precision D’wayne Murray pummels along on the four string keeping the devilish groove in swing.
The final track of their set (the only featuring clean vocals) wraps things up for the four-piece, gaining new fans before them.
Both opening acts tonight prove we have home-grown talent that is world class. If it wasn’t for the main reason we were all here tonight (Paradise Lost) these bands probably wouldn’t exist, either that or they would sound a lot different.
The sounds of Black Sabbath’s self-titled track and Ozzy’s scream blast through the PA and it isn’t long until Paradise Lost braces the stage.
Keeping the same line-up since their inception, apart from changing drummers, Waltteri Väyrynen, the most recent addition, joining the troops this year. Walterri of course provides drums on the most recent ‘Medusa’ record which is the main reason for tonight’s tour, and does a stellar job with the back catalogue.
Starting off the set with From the Gallows, from that very album, before kicking into the self-titled track from ‘Tragic Idol’ (2012), crowds cheer singing in unison. ‘In Requiem’ (2007) sees the light of day with The Enemy as does the self-titled track from ‘One Second’ (1997), the first song to feature from the 90’s.
Taking it back to the original death doom sound; Gods of Ancient, the second song tonight from ‘Medusa’, with album number 15 seeing some of the heaviest songs surface. The last time Paradise Lost headlined was in 1995, front man Nick Holmes jokes, “Most of you who were there are probably now dead”. The year brought on nostalgia as we got a taste of the iconic ‘Draconian Times’ (1995) record, bringing on a crowd sing-a-long to Enchantment.
A somewhat industrial Goth vibe was brought on by Erased from ‘Symbol of Life’ (2002), the album which saw new life after the release of ‘Host’ (1999) and ‘Believe in Nothing’ (2001), which many fans questioned. The title-track Medusa showed how fans had already learnt the words, even though it was one catchy doom number, it didn’t take long. “If you don’t know the words, just stare at me. I don’t mind”, laughs Holmes, as the front man is in fine form tonight.
The band themselves are faultless with the lead guitar of Gregor Mackintosh, Mohawk in tow, making up the duo with rhythm guitarist Aaron Aedy. Some of the best riffs written by the pair, Blood and Chaos, a choice cut from ‘Medusa’, with that overpowering wall of sound and infectious guitar licks is one of the highlights from the latest effort.
An Eternity of Lies, Beneath Broken Earth and No Hope In Sight receive praise, all heavy numbers taken from the album prior, ‘The Plague Within’ (2015). Embers Fire is a highlight among highlights, showing some love from ‘Icon’ (1993), as is As I Die from ‘Shades of God’ (1992), with the chugging bass of Stephen Edmondson.
The title track to ‘Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us’ (2009) gets some love and after an encore the band hit back with three tracks, ending with The Longest Winter, a song about England and that distinct intro to Say Just Words, the second track to feature from ‘One Second’, takes us out.
Sadly no songs from the debut ‘Lost Paradise’ (1990) or the ground-breaking ‘Gothic’ (1991) tonight, however beggars can’t be choosers when the band have a lengthy back catalogue, 17 tracks and over 90 minutes of play-time made for one incredible set and a night which will be stored in the old memory bank.
Don’t miss Paradise Lost in Australia! Get your tickets here.