Tragic Illusion 25 (The Rarities)
Ah, Paradise Lost. There’s no one out there quite like them and this collection of rarities proves that even their B-sides are well worth hearing. Most of these tracks were only available on special or limited edition versions of their studio albums, or they were import bonuses – perhaps even made available only to subscribers of certain magazines. At any rate, the band decided to gather them all up and release them for this 25th anniversary celebration. While not as extensive as the earlier released Paradise Lost: B-Sides And Rarities (2006) collection on Music For Nations, this collection spans the band’s legacy from the 2007 release In Requiem to the band’s current album, Tragic Idol. Some of these tracks were packaged with the special editions of albums, so I have heard them before – but others must have been either extremely rare or packaged with singles and that’s why I’m not familiar with them.
“Loneliness Remains” sees more guitar influence and an injection of traditional doom that we might hear from them more on the next release; while the Spear Of Destiny cover for “Never Take Me Alive” offers a much lighter side of the band than we’ve heard in many years. Holmes delivers a powerful vocal performance on the track, which thunders along with orchestration and hopefully does the original justice. As for the other Tragic Idol extras, “Ending Through Changes” offers a much lighter side of the band, albeit with chunkier riffs on the chorus; while “The Last Fallen Saviour” is a wonderful track which is a privilege to be able to hear on this compilation. I loved it the first time I heard it, and it’s well represented here. As we get into the bonus tracks from Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us (2009) two tracks that the band recorded with the Prague orchestra come out into the forefront. These are “Last Regret – Lost In Prague Orchestra Mix” and “Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us – Lost In Prague Orchestra Mix” respectively, allowing the orchestra to give a more dramatic feel to each of the tracks. While not my personal favorite renditions, some may be glad to finally hear these versions. Then there’s “Cardinal Zero” which is a truly killer track, featuring a bevy of guitar firepower amidst yet another memorable performance from Nick Holmes. It still boggles my mind as to why this song wasn’t good enough for the original album.
The latter portion of the release begins with three songs that I never even knew had existed. These are “Back On Disaster”, “Sons Of Perdition” and “Godless” which seem like they might have been sitting in the vaults for quite a while and perhaps should have been left there. The trio are alright, but they just don’t seem to capture the heat of their better numbers. What angered me most was “Godless” as it seemed like it would envelop into a great song, but never turned into much of anything. I guess there was a reason why these tracks were left in the vault.
The next part of the disc contains bonus tracks from In Requiem (2007) which were comprised of an Everything But The Girl cover of “Missing” which is relatively strong, and the incredibly powerful “Silent In Heart” which makes me miss the band’s lighter eras. Finally, we get into the part of the disc that you’ve all been waiting for and that would be the re-recorded classics. While some might shout blasphemy at these notions; at least they’re giving it the old college try. Nick’s growls aren’t what they used to be on “Gothic 2013” and perhaps the riffs aren’t perfect compared to the original; but they haven’t completely dropped the ball by any means. For a song that’s over twenty years old, the performance could have been much worse. As for “Our Saviour” I was completely impressed, it was definitely a good representation of the original and I’ve never heard the band this heavy in years. And I do mean years. At least this proves that the band still has a firm grip on their death metal roots and that they could certainly release a death metal disc in the old style at any time if they wanted to. But seeing as these were recorded in celebration of the band’s 25 year reign, I don’t think that will happen.
At any rate this is a great little compilation to add to the Paradise Lost: B-Sides And Rarities collection that you’ve probably already got sitting on a shelf somewhere. I definitely recommend it to all of those hardcore Paradise Lost fans out there like myself; who want to hear literally everything that the band has to offer. It’s not often that bands do this, but when they do, we should respectfully embrace the effort as some bands have been known to dissolve completely; with this kind of material being forever lost to time. (Eric May)