Once upon a time, England’s doom/death saints Paradise Lost were poised to become their country’s (and even their continent’s) answer to the mighty Metallica. Going from the atonal death/doom of their humble beginnings to their more streamlined sound, the West Yorkshire quintet were on the cusp of breaking big after the impact of 1993’s Icon and 1995’s powerful Yer Metal is Olde-inductee, Draconian Times. Seeing their star on the rise, Paradise Lost did what any self-respecting metal band would do: they got haircuts, abandoned the doom metal they were most known for and loved, and jumped on the Depeche Mode wagon. In other words, they were ready to explore new horizons, and fans be damned if they have a problem with a band wanting to go more of a dancy Gothic route than, well, Gothic. Part 90s Metal Weirdness, part Indefensible Position, but definitely a worthy Yer Metal is Olde induction, this is Paradise Lost‘s crimson-headed, Doc Marten-booted stepchild, 1997’s One Second.

Sure, haircuts and image upheavals were a big deal back in the 90s, as more and more bands felt the crushing weight of metal being pushed aside for instant gratifcation. Also gone were the colorful paintings that adorned their albums, and in their place was the face of an elderly woman, aged and weathered by time and hardship, further accentuating the concept of how things could change in just one second. Many a metalhead shrieked at the thought that the very men who crafted classics like “Embers Fire” and “Hallowed Land” could do such an about face, turning away from a style many loved and cherished. It was truly their loss, though. One Second contained some of the band’s strongest material at the time, and remains one of the best gems in their nearly 30-year tenure.

Sure, Nick Holmes’ singing voice wasn’t particularly strong at the time, and Gregor Mackintosh’s mournful leads were replaced by synths and programmed melodies. Give a listen to the album’s first four songs, however, and tell me with a straight face that they’re not some of the most enduring songs they’ve written. The opening title track, with its now-iconic piano melody, could have easily sat within Draconian Time‘s tracklist with no problem. Breakout single “Say Just Words” still goes down well in a live setting, containing one of the band’s most infectious choruses penned to date. Elsewhere, “Mercy”‘s infectious hooks and memorable chorus lingers with you long after the song’s duration expires. Sure, One Second was marginally metal, but the mood and somber atmosphere remained, even if acquired a good beat that you could dance to.


The lyrics also took a major departure from the religious imagery of the band’s past, concentrating more on the downtrodden, personal problems of modern times. “Lydia” tells the story of a prostitute, and her need to fake a smile to keep her Johns happy (“All lowest forms of life are pounding you inside/Your hollow cold display, your tired masquerade”). As stated before, “One Second” recalls how life can change for the better or worse in that time frame, and how we should count the blessings that we have at that moment. Most haunting though is the subject matter of “Another Day,” which somehow tactfully recalls the memories of a school shooting, with a powerful chorus and a beautiful guitar and keyboard outro that lingers and moves you well after the song ends.

The decision to move from longtime producer Simon Efemey to Ulf “Sank” Sandqvist was also controversial, and yet rewarding. Not once do the album’s metallic moments, few as they are, feel sterilized and watered down in favor of the electronica. The guitars cut with power, the drums and bass can be heard and felt, and the electronic elements mesh beautifully with the band’s sound and agenda. Sure, there are some clunkers on One Second, but they’re no worse than the clunkers found on their other albums. They just happened to have dance beats to them this time around.

Sadly, this would be the last Paradise Lost album that I would buy until they signed to Century Media years later with their release of 2007’s In Requiem.1 But in changing styles and testing the waters, they’ve also painted with a broader color scheme that the band never experienced before. Having made the full circle back to gothic doom, and on to their death/doom roots, Paradise Lost can proudly proclaim that they can follow their own muse with success, and we all owe the controversial-yet-awesome One Second for that. While it may not be the most metal of their collection, it’s easily among the most somber, melancholic material the band has penned, as well as a personal favorite album of mine. For that, I’m proud to induct it into our Yer Metal is Olde Hall of Fame.

 

Show 1 footnote

  1. In other words, everything from follow-up Host through their self-titled were a bitch to come by for a broke college kid from New Hampshire.

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  • Eli Valcik

    When can we fan boy the hell out of Bolt Thrower on this site?

    • Rave metal first.

      • Eli Valcik

        I want my Warhammer 40k metal!

      • Marc Rikmenspoel

        Speaking of UK stuff, is there any plan for the regular Yer Metal is Newe to include a review of Fellwarden (the new Fen side project)?

        • Thatguy

          Who cares. Thatguy says it’s great.

          • Marc Rikmenspoel

            I says it’s great too, but I want to get word out about it. I think a lot of site visitors would enjoy it, if they were informed about it.

          • Thatguy

            Fen is consistently underrated here so I expect this would be too I’m afraid, but you’re right, many of those who come here would like it.

    • Refined-Iron Cranium

      I’m always down for a Bolt Thrower appreciation invasion.

    • Drew Music

      Do as you will, where you will. And do check out Suffering Hour on Bandcamp. Killer evil blackened death, I’ve only heard a few tracks but it’s more in the realm of trve brutality than the atmospheric voids of late (which I also love, this just ain’t that.)

      • Eli Valcik

        Will do homie.

      • Acid Spine

        That new Suffering Hour is straight fire

        • Drew Music

          You ain’t kidding, payday can’t get here quickly enough.

          • Acid Spine

            The guitar-work blows my fucking mind. Exactly the innovation in songwriting I was looking for.

          • Drew Music

            Always happy to spread the dark word.

        • Drew Music

          Speaking of random badassery I’ve stumbled across while ‘camping: I was late to the Humanity Defiled party, but it’s free admission and I’m inviting erbody, I for one am never leaving. Aggressive, intense shit, it has the heavies.

          • Iwein Denayer

            Thanks for the compliment, sir.

          • Master of Muppets

            Hey, thanks for the music! Your stuff is awesome, I don’t even remember how I found HD but I spread the word whenever I can. Your talent is evident and your sound is awesome, keep it up!

          • Iwein Denayer

            Thanks again!
            There’s a new EP coming, btw. Glad you like it!

    • herrschobel

      Oh boy !!! It is about time … maybe my favorite band of all times

  • Luciano

    Well, well, well… I can spend a long time talking about this album and PL’s daring moves into landscapes unattractive to most metal fans, but due to a shortage of time, I can only say that this is a truly fucking masterpiece in its genre and one of the band’s best records. I’ll probably listen to it later, sipping some wine (a.k.a getting drunk).

  • tomasjacobi

    There is nothing indefensible about liking this album. It’s very, very good.
    An indefensible position would be to praise the follow-up, “Host”.
    That’s the album where they went full Depeche Mode and you should never go full Depeche Mode unless you’re, you know, Depeche Mode.

    • Luciano

      Hummm, I can go to Hell for praising “Host” as well. That was the DM we needed at the time, more DM than DM themselves got to be after Ultra.
      But you see… I like “Believe in Nothing”, so I might be a bit untrustworthy as a fan.

      • tomasjacobi

        I like some of the songs on “Host” but overall it’s a mediocre album. The songwriting is repetitive to the point where it’s difficult to tell the songs apart and IMO they went too far in trying to sound exactly like DM.
        On “One Second” they still kept their core sound and mixed in elements of DM and The Sisters of Mercy and it really worked.

        • Luciano

          I agree that “One Second” has a more varied sound (and, yes, there’s something of The Sisters of Mercy there as well), but I can recognize some complexities in “Host” (to the point where a certain trip-hop influence is present in a song or two). But as I said, my opinion is biased regarding PL’s “strange days”.

      • Dr_Fisting

        “Believe In Nothing” is truly PL’s most indefensible album. Even the band has disowned it.

        • Luciano

          It was “compromised”, they said… and also had a pretty lousy production. I wish they could reowrk it one day, though, because I think it has some interesting ideas.

        • Wilhelm

          I love that album, I hate Symbol of Life with its processed “backstreet boys” pop electronics.

          • Dr_Fisting

            That one also kinda sucks, although there’s a couple good tracks (and they managed to make Nick Holmes sound pretty).

        • RuySan

          I really love “Believe in Nothing”. It has a sort of calming atmosphere that just gives me good vibes. For some reason it inkoves nostalgia and the best of my childood, even though i was past 20 when i got it.

          I also like Host so very much.

          If there’s a black sheep in PL disgography, it’s the self-titled, “return to roots” album which felt souless and by the numbers. Fortunately “In Requiem” and the following albums set things right.

          Fuck, I love Paradise Lost!

      • Ferrous Beuller

        I like Host, it’s different, sure, but has some great writing on it. If only someone would re-record Permanent Solution with guitars…

        • Wilhelm

          It has guitars, just not in the metal sense. A lot of the guitars on Host were heavily effected – so you might incorrectly think they’re keyboards.

  • Dr_Fisting

    Awesome writeup on an awesome album.
    Hey Grymm — your insight on the lyrics is interesting. Is the subject matter something that that band has mentioned ever, or is this your attempt at decoding Mr. Holmes’ (admittedly pretty abstract) writings?

    • Grymm

      I don’t believe they’ve been as easy to decode prior to One Second, and even some of his lyrics on the newer stuff is pretty abstract. In fact, a lot of the lyrics written by The Peaceville Three during that time were pretty damn out-there!

      • Dr_Fisting

        Definitely. I can see where they were going with “Lydia,” but I’d never have put together the school shooting thing on “Another Day,” so i was just curious.

        • Grymm

          The only reason I knew “Another Day” was about a school shooting was that Nick Holmes admitted as such in an interview at the time (I believe it was either Terrorizer or Metal Maniacs), and I *never* would have guessed it otherwise.

          • Dr_Fisting

            Cool!

          • Grymm

            Very much so, because I remember hearing it and thinking it was about a break-up of sorts. When I read that, I went, “Oh… OHH!!!”

            Can’t picture it otherwise now.

          • Drew Music

            The veil between artistic intent and audience interpretation is an important one; personal connection and meaning being drawn from any given song is an inevitable and necessary miracle, but one can not un-learn whatever knowledge is exposed when the veil gets lifted.
            Pearl Jam’s ‘Alive’ is a prime example of this, the audience’s take on the song being so prevalent, positive and powerful that Eddie Vedder has said the song’s meaning has changed for himself. The original story… well, time and wit limitations dictate that you can look that up for yourself if you’re unfamiliar, but we’ll suffice it to say that it was never meant to be an inspirational anthem.

          • Grymm

            Funny you should mention “Alive” by Pearl Jam, as my mind went there as another one of those “lyrical discoveries”.

          • Drew Music

            Despite the mass labeling of them as a grunge band, I fucking love Pearl Jam and think they’re brilliant, far ahead of any so-called grunge bands.

      • Luciano

        I agree… think about 34.788%, for example. But the Cavanagh brothers’ lyrics have always been the least cryptic ones in comparison to Holme’s or Stainthorpe’s, imo.

        • Grymm

          True about the Cavanaugh brothers. But Darren White’s lyrics made Holmes’ and Stainthorpe’s seem sensical in hindsight.

          • Luciano

            Oh, yes! Most definitely.

  • Chris Benadie

    Draconian times is still my favourite and in my opinion hands down superior to anything metallica released after the black album in the 90’s. One second is a beautiful album. Say just words kicks ass. They totally went in a different direction and pulled it off. Thanks for the review. Last week it was therapy with troublegum, this week it’s paradise lost and these 2 albums. I’m getting my nineties vibe on. Now we just need monster magnet’s powertrip and corrosion of conformity’ deliverence.

    • Chris_Martin

      Troublegum blew my mind when I was 14. What an addictive album that is.

    • Nag Dammit

      Deliverance is a total classic. The riffs man!

  • rumour

    Paradise Regained. Sweet piece of writing. Kudos.

    • Wes Allen

      Subtle Milton reference. I dig it.

      • rumour

        Indeed.
        “In the council of Pandemonium, the rebel angels debate their next move.”

        • rumour

          “From us, his foes pronounced…”

  • Drew Music

    We’re not supposed to talk about this!

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Hell yes… This is all 90’s Weirdness, Indefensible Position and Yer Metal is Olde all at once. This is one of the few albums where I can remember exactly the day I bought it. With money to burn in my pocket, I took a 2 buses, one hour ride to the record store and once I got there I found out Paradise Lost had released a new album! I was beyond myself with excitement, I bought right away and took a 2 buses, one hour ride back home.
    When I got home and listened to it I was really disappointed to hear that it sounded nothing like the Paradise Lost of “Shades Of God” or “Draconian Times”. But I kept listening to it and it grew on me. I grew to really like some of the songs on it. I’d still take Shades or Draconian over “One Second”, but I would always make room for 3 or 4 songs off “One Second” in my Paradise Lost mixtape.

  • I have no problem with artists wanting to take crazy turns and explore something totally different.

    Just release it under a different name. That’s all you gotta do. Scott Kelly forms a new band every week, instead of trying to turn Neurosis into those other things he wants to try.

    When you use an established name, though, you’re trading on the reputation and expectations of that name. That doesn’t mean you can never change under a certain name, but some thought should always go into whether or not it’s really the best idea to do a project under a certain name or stake out a new one.

    • I respectfully disagree, although not strongly. Take Rush, for example. They have changed drastically since their early days. Fly By Night sounds nothing like Moving Pictures which in turn is nothing like Hold Your Fire and by the time you reach Counterparts and Test For Echo you cannot say you could imagine them changing so much. However, it is their band and their music, and while I don’t claim to love all the albums, I like the majority of them.

      These guys are artists, if they want to change their style that is fine with me. I don’t have to like the evolution of the musical style but I also see no reason to believe they should have to change their name. On the same token, if the band thinks that it would be best to move on to a new name, that is also their own business.

      • There’s a difference between an artist’s evolution over a long period of time and what I’m talking about, though.

        Rush can play “Animate” from Counterparts right alongside any of their classic material in a live set, and it fits right in. It all sounds like Rush. It’s not that much deviation.

        Consider a counterargument to Rush of one of their contemporaries: King Crimson. Or more specifically, King Crimson, and the ProjeKcts. And, if you want to stretch it further, Fripp and Eno, The League of Gentlemen, Robert Fripp String Quartet, etc.

        Rush’s career obviously arcs a long period of time before the current climate of ridiculously easy recording and distribution. And given their scale of popularity, they’re an extreme example. But even taking in all that, would it have really hurt for Lee/Lifeson/Peart to release albums under a different name too? It didn’t hurt anything for two of those three to go off and do Big Dirty Band. I doubt it would have hurt Rush any if Peart had been in on it too.

        Electronic artists do it all the time. Richard D. James is Aphex Twin, AFX, Caustic Window, Polygon Window, The Tuss, and a few others over the years. A lot of people create music under many different names, choosing to do different material under different aliases, because the recording world of today supports that.

        • Thank you for the thoughtful reply, I think King crimson is another great example but there are many. To be fair, I am not a Paradise Lost expert so I could be way off base. Anyway, I respect your point of view, I just get frustrated with the rather large group of fans who cannot accept when their favorite groups want to do something different or grow.

    • maartje

      I think it depends how far you stray away from the style of your previous albums. In this case, I’d say it’s justified to use the Paradise Lost monicker. It’s different, but Draconian Times is different from Gothic too. Admittedly, it’s a bigger and bolder step than any previous one but it’s not that they suddenly went into an entirely different direction.
      Apart from that, any band and any artist have the right to release the music they want to release. Except Slayer.

    • sir_c

      Take a look at Picasso’s evolution. Or any other artist, quite frankly.
      We as fans may disagree, but it’s the artist who decides. We can then vote with our wallets.

  • Zachary Randall

    Nothing indefensible here, this is an amazing album

  • I absolutely hated it at the time for being nothing like Icon or Draconian Times, but strangely it grew on me from seeing “Say Just Words” and “One Second” played live and then I grew to love the whole album.

    I still can’t find any appreciate for Host nor Believe In Nothing so I’m clearly not a true PL fan although I have an unhealthy love for Symbol as possibly my second favourite album after Icon.

  • @grymm:disqus – I have to ask if you ever went back and bought any of the albums between One Second and In Requiem. The self-titled is pretty decent, but Symbol of Life absolutely nailed the balance of metal to dark, electronic atmosphere, thus making it one of their best albums

    • Grymm

      I haven’t yet, but I need to. There’s so much to catch up on.

  • Nukenado

    This album is like if Leif Edling did Hurricanes and Halos right after Tales of Creation.

    • Nukenado

      I Despair and One Second still hits this edgy emo high school student hard.

      • herrschobel

        Replying to oneself seems pretty emo AND edgy too :-)

        • Nukenado

          You don’t understand! You just believe in what you read! You don’t know the true me! ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

  • Wilhelm

    It was a bold move and I really didn’t mind the change but I still think about half of this album suffers from weak songwriting, while the other half is good but sort of awkward. I believe the followup album “Host” blows this out of the water.

    • Nukenado

      No PL album is truly indefensible.

  • herrschobel

    i always imagine Dave Gahan with his – IMO perfect voice – singing, when i listen to ‘Say just Words’…then it´s good … that Album was indeed a bold move and i highly respect Paradise Lost for that. But at that time it felt a bit clumsy here and there … seeing Paradise Lost performing some of these Songs live NOW is a whole different story. It almost seems as if they made an album that they could only pull off in their own future … weirdness !

    • Grymm

      I was about to say that the songs off here sound better with the band’s style NOW in a live setting than they did when they were first released.

      Good call!

      • herrschobel

        it´s also kind of cool to see, retrospectively, that the artistic changes made back then and the courage to explore new territories went full circle and allowed them to become (and remain) a very interesting and great band… i saw them live last year and that was truly something !

  • Bas

    Feeling a bit embarrased for not giving this album a chance at the time… Thanks for the interesting review.
    I have a lot of catching up to do.. (i havent listened to any of their albums after draconian times).

  • madhare

    Nice article. I remember so well their “fall from grace”. It became so uncool to like them for a long time.

    I’ve never properly got into their “Depeche Mode” albums as full albums. But I have kept one or two songs from each one on my playlists. If you string together “One Second”, “Say Just Words”, “So Much Is Lost” and “Missing” (the cover song). You get like a decent EP.

    Sure it’s not very metal. More like gloomy trance/industrial/something. But I have no qualms about listening to that kind of stuff anyway.

  • sir_c

    I understand this is Album Of The Month of June?

  • My first introduction to Paradise Lost was around 2005, so I have had the advantage of being able to go through their pre-In Requiem discography in the order I liked, at the pace I preferred.
    To me their albums until Host show a continuous development in the band’s sound. To me, therefore, One Second is not a radical change or 90s metal weirdness, or an indefensible album, but rather the album that was to be expected after Draconian Times.

    I prefer Icon, Symbol of Life, Draconian Times and Shades of God (usually in that order) over One Second, but One Second is an album I can enjoy of deeply when I’m in the right mood.

  • Grymm

    I also want to add that I never would have pictured PL hitting melodic doom metal highlights like Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us, or songs as painstakingly heavy like the incredible “Beneath Broken Earth”, ever again after first hearing One Second twenty years ago.

    Just as I never would have pictured them doing One Second at the time of its release, I wouldn’t have guessed that they would make a completely organic circle from that record years down the line.