It’s been almost six years since the last time UK Doom Metal pioneers Paradise Lost hit our shores, with their previous Australian excursion being for Soundwave Festival in 2012. As such, they haven’t headlined their own “club” tour since 1995 when they toured with Cathedral, so this set has been a long time coming – and Paradise Lost did not disappoint.

The night however began with Melbourne’s KING. KING immediately displayed a beautifully melodic approach, with a style that sat somewhere between melodic Black and melodic Death Metal. One could easily have been reminded of Dark Tranquillity or Dusk… and her Embrace-era Cradle of Filth. Particularly impressive was the band’s stand-in bassist, the wife of frontman Tony Forde – she slotted into the band with aplomb, and one might never have known she wasn’t a permanent member. Her being unused to performing with the band may go some way to explaining why the set seemed more focused on precision than performance, particularly early on. However, the energy grew throughout the set to a powerful climax, leaving a very satisfied crowd despite one particularly dedicated heckler, who Forde dealt with by telling him to go buy a T-shirt.

Next up were The Eternal, a mainstay of Melbourne’s dark Metal scene. With a diverse back catalogue of material spanning 15 years, The Eternal are well placed to select songs to fit the mood, which they certainly did. The songs chosen were very much in the Doom Metal milieu, with frontman Mark Kelson not breaking into harsh vocals until the third (and final) song. Impressively, The Eternal’s 30-minute set only allowed them room for those three songs, but they ran the gamut of emotions from slow and sombre, to uplifting and melodic, to pure Metal fury. The band’s diverse roots became apparent through the intricately-executed guitar solos from both Kelson and Richie Poate, proving that The Eternal are about far more than lumbering and melancholic Doom.

Paradise Lost hit the stage to a packed (though not quite sold out) room, and a crowd that was warm though not over-the-top. It was nonetheless clear that Paradise Lost were very welcome back in Melbourne as they opened their set with a heavy number from their latest album, Medusa – ‘From the Gallows.’ Medusa has been well-received by fans, and the track went down well as an opener, as well as setting the tone for the night in the sense that the production gave a slightly fuzzier, and certainly heavier feel to the Paradise Lost songs the crowd knew and loved. ‘From the Gallows’ was indeed one of the heavier songs of the set, drawing on frontman Nick Holmes’ harsh vocals which, while sounding good, were certainly not as strong as his cleans.

Throughout the song and indeed most of the set, drummer Waltteri Väyrynen (the only non-original member of the band) impressed through simply appearing so relaxed, no matter how heavy or intricate the songs. Guitarist Greg Mackintosh likewise put on a great performance, with his proficiency judiciously displayed while at other times allowing the rhythm of Aaron Aedy and bassist Stephen Edmondson to carry the songs along.

‘From the Gallows’ was followed by the title track of Tragic Idol, getting fist and pumping and the crowd singing along to key parts of the song. The enthusiasm was growing rapidly. Next up was ‘The Enemy,’ followed by the song that really sealed the audience buy-in – the melancholic title track of 1997’s One Second. This track epitomising the dark and dreary side of Paradise Lost (is there even another side?), it was amazing to see an emotionally enraptured audience getting so physically involved in what is essentially a very downbeat song. As the song closed, audience “participation” in terms of shouted requests and “advice” continued, though when one fan called for the vocals to be turned up, frontman Nick Holmes echoed that call, and it was definitely to the benefit of the show.

Long-time fans were next pleased to hear the opening track ‘Enchantment’ from 1995’s iconic Draconian Times, followed by ‘Erased.’ The band then returned to Medusa with the album’s title track, easily the darkest and most chilling song of the set, an absolute beast of a track. This mood was offset by Holmes’ characteristically British humour, at one point during the set picking up a pink guitar pick from the stage and throwing it to the crowd, saying, “I think that belonged to Yngwie Malmsteen. Thanks, Yngwie,” and commenting that, “I’m not sure about the white lights on the back of my head, I’m having enough trouble there as it is,” in reference to the band growing older – having been around for 30 years.

‘An Eternity of Lies’ was next up, and as fans cried out for their particular songs, Holmes had a moment of trolling the audience by declaring, “You keep asking for songs you know we’re not playing. You’ve all been on or whatever the fuck it is,” before launching into the much-requested ‘Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us.’ Indeed, this song certainly united the crowd in singing along.

‘Blood and Chaos’ proved one of the best songs from Medusa, though it prompted an observation from Holmes: “I can see the people up the back much better than the ones up the front.” He then crossed his arms and scrunched up his face, going on with a comedic voice, “We only like the old stuff! Play some Death Metal!” receving a great laugh from the rest of the crowd. That being said, the band followed up with the classic ‘As I Die’ from 1992’s Shades of God.

The set was rounded out with a newer track, ‘Beneath Broken Earth,’ and an older, ‘Embers Fire’ from the 1993 Icon. The band weren’t gone from the stage long before their encore of course, with those three songs stirring up a much more active pit, with ‘No Hope in Sight’ from the previous album, The Plague Within, the first single from Medusa, ‘The Longest Winter,’ and finishing up with arguably Paradise Lost’s most popular song, ‘Say Just Words.’ The latter had the crowd jumping off their feet and singing the whole way through, and was the perfect way to close a deeply affecting night that united fans new and old. Having been so well received, one can only hope that it won’t be another 22 years between headlining sets for Paradise Lost!