"Draconian Times" is the 5th studio album by British gothic metal band, Paradise Lost. It was released in 1995 on the Music For Nations label and produced by Simon Efemey. The line-up for the album was Nick Holmes (vocals), Gregor Mackintosh (guitar), Aaron Aedy (guitar), Steve Edmondson (bass) and Lee Morris (drums).
Released two years after 1993's "Icon", this is the Paradise Lost album that completed the change in the band's style. It's a softer approach to music, as opposed to the band's previous death metal sound in their first two albums and cropping up now and then in its predecessor. It is the first Paradise Lost album to feature Lee Morris on drums, replacing original drummer, Matthew Archer.
The album begins with a serene and somber piano piece, before kicking in to the doom-laden guitars. The song is a very haunting opener to the album, with an almost softly spoken chorus. The lyrics are mysterious but bring an air of enchantment to the track, hence the name.
This takes us back to the early days of Paradise Lost guitar-wise, as Mackintosh and Aedy stretch out the gothic sound, but accompanied with Holmes' singing instead of the early years of growling on each track. The lead guitar steals the show in particular, with a solo very reminiscent of the title track on the band's 1991 album, "Gothic".
The Last Time
This begins with a heavy riff which doesn't let go until the end of the song. The chorus is, however, a little too repeated to make it a stand-out track, but the guitar work in that chorus is pretty unique, and more of the band's gothic roots shine through. This is a song about getting too close to someone and letting them go at the same time.
This is a song dedicated to those who would rather give up the big fight, and how frustration gets the better of all of us in certain times. It's one of the slower songs on the album, and has the chilling voice of convicted serial killer Charles Manson at the beginning of the track saying "I don't really know what sorry means. I've been sorry all my life."
This is, in contrast, a complete change in pace from "Forever Failure". It's an upbeat song with a heavy edge, and the rhythm of Edmondson's bass sounds very audible. This is could easily be classed as one of the best tracks on the album for its ferocity and structure. The song is about being alone then finding a purpose by selling your soul, eventually leading to adoration for the one who set you free.
This is a song about religion and how faith proves to be a letdown for the author. At the mid-way point of the album, the song has to be strong, and this is that and more. It's an intricate mix of heaviness with gothic tones and it somehow works, especially with the solo riff leading the track out to a fade.
The song starts out with a few slow and acoustic notes before the doom-sounding guitars join the party. It's a monster with a soft melody that hits hard with the chorus. The narrator is searching for the cure that will heal his pain and anguish of his past life. The beauty of the song is, you never really know what happens and it's left to your own devices to wonder if he found what he was looking for.
Yearn For Change
This comes with an almost hard rock feel, but there are still plenty of gothic-sounding beats in there. Just as you though the album would carry on with the same tone, it is split wide open with this refreshing song. The subject matter for the track is self-evident from the title, with the narrator struggling in life and in need of something different.
Shades of God
The intro of this is excellent and the lead guitar sounds incredible as it plays through the riff. This is another song about religion, which is a growing theme throughout the album. The great thing about this track is, the band take a simple song and make it a monster with apparent ease. In the near four minutes, there are just three verses and an ending chorus, which is hard to grasp.
Hands of Reason
Many Paradise Lost fans, and fans of this album in particular, will say that's where the album should have ended. However, "Hands of Reason" still does the business as another gothic-sounding song. If anything, though, it does sound a little like the grunge genre and you can hear a little bit of Soundgarden in there. It's not the best song on the album by any means.
I See Your Face
This track carries on the wind-down of the album in style with strong guitar riffs. It's a song about finding the will to carry on and the need to see the face of one person who can make everything right. But at the same time that same face might ultimately be the last the narrator ever sees. Lyrically, it's dark and doomy, but musically, it has an almost pop edge to it.
The album ends with "Jaded", a song about the emotions the narrator has felt on his journey throughout these "Draconian Times". The main chorus only has one line; "The feeling can't avoid you", which is a reminder that we're all human, after all. The song is an incredibly powerful number and tinges on a hint of sadness as it becomes apparent that the narrator has finally lost the will.
Many argue that this was meant to be a concept album, but you do get the feeling that each song carries on where the last left off. It begins with a man's struggle for life, death and everything in-between, and eventually he's left broken and empty. As far as the music goes, this is the definitive Paradise Lost album.
2. Hallowed Land
3. The Last Time
4. Forever Failure
5. Once Solemn
7. Elusive Cure
8. Yearn For Change
9. Shades of God
10. Hands of Reason
11. I see Your Face