Paradise Lost discuss their dark new album Medusa...
It's almost 30 years and counting for Yorkshire metallers Paradise Lost, but they're still going strong. Today they unveil Medusa, their 15th studio album and their heaviest for quite some time.
As Medusa comes to hmv's shelves, we spoke to singer Nick Holmes and guitarist Gregory Mackintosh about making the new album, how they settled on the monstrous title and why they just can't keep a drummer...
How did you want Medusa to move on from what you did on The Plague Within?
Gregory: "Usually we have no idea how our albums will turn out until well into the writing period. But with Medusa, we knew how we were going to proceed straight away and that is because of the final song we wrote for The Plague Within. 'Beneath Broken Earth' turned out so well and we loved playing it live so much that it made me think that an album of full on doom would be really enjoyable to do. So that’s exactly what we have done."
Nick: "Each album naturally leads to the next, and this one was no exception, making it heavier was a key issue I guess."
You did the album with Jaime Gomez Arellano, what did he give you as a producer?
Gregory: "He finds the sounds that we want and he has a very similar outlook on production to us. He spends most of the time getting the best sounds at the start of the recording so that nothing needs replacing later. Every drum, guitar and bass sound you hear on the record are all very natural and unedited."
Nick: "We worked with him last time, he approaches with a very organic approach and doesn’t favour artificial sounds or drum samples. He is also very like-minded and a good all round guy which is paramount when spending lots of time with someone, and he understands and likes our music."
What kind of album is this lyrically? Does it have a common theme?
Nick: "The common themes are much the same as always, I just approach them from whatever my age is when I write them! Religion, life, death, general existence are always mainstays of Paradise Lost lyrics."
Which song on the album took the longest to get right?
Nick: "They were all pretty sorted when we got in the studio, I think ‘Fearless Sky’ took longest to write initially, as its long, and there’s quite a few parts to it."
And which came together most quickly?
Nick: "Possibly 'From The Gallows', the shorter usually the quicker it comes together."
When did you settle on the title of Medusa?
Nick: "The title has many deep metaphorical meanings, the one that summed it up for me was from a Nihilist perspective - 'Attempts to avoid looking into her eyes represent avoiding the ostensibly depressing reality that the universe is meaningless'."
Were there any other titles in contention?
Nick: "There’s always loads, but this one has been around a long time and kind of stuck!"
This is your first album with Waltteri Väyrynen on drums, what did he bring to the process?
Gregory: "He is very enthusiastic and loves to improvise. Many metal drummers are very strong at one style but find it hard to improvise in different styles and around different themes. Waltteri is great at improvising in a very tasteful way that really compliments the songs. The second song on the album 'Gods of Ancient' is a good example of him doing this."
The four of you have been together since 1988, but by our count you’ve had at least five drummers, what is it about drummers?
Gregory: "Drummers are different from most other musicians as usually they don’t write tunes as it is a rhythmical instrument so as a result they tend to work for many different projects. Our drummers all left for differing reasons but all were valid."
This is also your first album for Nuclear Blast, how’s life going on a new label?
Gregory: "Seems good so far. They are very on the ball and also big fans of the genre which helps. They also seem really eager artistically, with many ideas on how the record should be presented."
What are your plans to take the album out live? You’ve got 15 records to pick from now, how do you decide what makes it into your live set and what doesn’t?
Gregory: "We head on tour at the end of September for a few months. For us, festival sets are usually a best of set but a tour set is whatever album we are promoting at the time and then tailor the set around that so it can vary quite a bit."