UK’s long-running doom mavens, Paradise Lost have been a hit or a miss for me.  I’ll admit to being a tremendous fan of their first two albums Lost Paradise and Gothic mainly because of the doom/death/goth atmosphere, but after that, their material was a departure of that sound and just did not do it for me, but I still have a great deal of respect for them.

Vocalist Nick Holmes and guitarist Greg Mackintosh have put together a new band – Host– which to be honest after reading the descriptions I had my eyebrows raised a bit, but in a very curious and interesting way I might add.  If you’re expecting a metal release well this isn’t it, but it’s a fascinating descent into ‘80’s vintage alternative New Wave/electronica/ goth with some nods to the two recent outputs of Greece’s Hail Spirit Noir.  Those other influences range from Depeche Mode, Erasure, Ministry’s first two albums to Sisters of Mercy.  The name of the band, Host, comes from the title of Paradise Lost’s 1999 album.

The promo of IX  contains 10 songs and the physical edition has 2 bonus tracks.  “Wretched Soul” starts off the album with excellent acoustic guitars and a variety of noises with Nick’s incredible, yet haunting/depressive vocals, coming forth.  The music has a variety of sounds, but in terms of instruments, just guitar, heavy use of synths/keys and I believe that is a drum machine.  This is a great album opener and the chorus is exceptionally crafted and most of all catchy.

“Tomorrow’s Sky” has a cool synth opener with a  spectacular vocal performance from Holmes, as the song is literally drenched in 80’s New Wave atmosphere.  The synths and keys create a hoppy, yet melancholic atmosphere on this particular track.  Yes this song has many textures with orchestration elements, used to dramatic effect.

“Years of Suspicion” has synths and then some guitar work to open up the song as the song has a slow burn as it reaches a crescendo with the opening vocals – “Feel the strain, the utmost Pain…”  these lyrics, which continue, repeat multiple times and will get caught in your head for days  – I promise you that good reader.  Sometimes the simplicity of lyrics or musical arrangements is all that is needed in order for the song to be memorable and catchy.  At the end of the day a band wants its fans to listen to its music over and over again and if a band cannot capture those memorable moments well the album/band can fall into an abyss.  Since the music industry can be a ruthless and unforgiving machine, it can be quite difficult for a band to crawl out of that abyss.  Given the fact we have 2 veterans of the music scene, it’s quite pleasing to see these good ‘ole chaps putting together quite a memorable album.

“I Ran” ends the album, with some noises, and synths bellowing forth with Nick’s vocals coming forth in more of the washed-out reverb/goth-styled vocals before the song gets into the rhythm of the drum machine and synths with extraordinary vocal patterns and a cool guitar solo come forth towards the end of the song.  The song gets into more heavily influenced synth-based industrial elements – think the Twitch album, by Ministry.

Host has created quite a memorable and eclectic album.  It’s really nice to see many of my extreme metal head friends and fans across the globe embracing this album and speaking about what a wonderful and non-stop listening experience IX is – I could not agree anymore.  At times beautiful, at other times quite depressing and brooding, and then also uplifting as well.

This is one of the more creative debut albums I have heard in recent memory and I’m actually listening to this album while writing this review and it’s cold and rainy outside.  This has been the perfect landscape for me to write this review, and I strongly encourage you to listen to this, with earbuds.  The production/mix comes through in ways even a good sound system will not capture.  Spectacular and mesmerizing album with one the best band logos, which adorns the album, I have seen in a lonnnnggg time.

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
March 29th, 2023

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