PARADISE LOST “Caught In Medusa’s Gaze”

By Dr. Abner Mality

Things seem to have come full circle for England’s Paradise Lost. When they first emerged from England’s gloomy moors in the late 80’s, they played some of the most sorrowful and crushing death metal to ever be heard…an impenetrable wall of darkness. From there, they slowly added more gothic melody to their sound and moderated it somewhat. Eventually, the metal was almost left behind. But not forever…

In 2017, the “old” Paradise Lost has returned with the stunning new album “Medusa”, which brings back all the grim growls and bone-breaking guitar tone of their earliest work while not eschewing  the sad melodies for which they are known. It’s an amazing return to form.

Thus, the time was ripe for me to hunt down long time guitarist Gregor Mackintosh for a chat about the darkness of “Medusa” and the return of Paradise Lost…

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES:  Greetings and many thanks! “Medusa” is an awesome record that reaches back to the very beginnings of Paradise Lost yet is not just a “tribute”. How delicate a task is it to create something “classical” yet fresh at the same time.

GREGOR MACKINTOSH: Thank you for the kind words. I guess it is a delicate task but I honestly don't think about that whilst writing songs. I just immerse myself in it and see what happens. I always try many different versions of a song before I choose a definitive version however.

WC: Would it be fair to say that “Medusa” is the most pessimistic of all Paradise Lost albums? There seems to be little room for hope here. I know the band has never been exactly fun-filled but this is on a deeper level yet.

GM: Possibly. Again we don’t give much thought to our back catalogue when creating new stuff. We are not trying to “out do” any older album. I guess if this album is particularly pessimistic then it’s more a reflection of the world at the moment.

WC:  Does the album’s general theme cross over into actual nihilism…the desire to tear everything down and start over again?

GM: I guess it does but more through frustration than anything else. We have no answers, we just know when something doesn’t feel right and a lot of things in the world at the moment don’t feel right.

WC:  Jaime Gomez Arellano came up with a crushing production here. What was it like working with him?

GM: Great. He’s a really cool guy with a great sense of humour and a thirst for creating unique sounding records. We aren’t interested in having the best contemporary metal production or fitting in with current trends. We just want to create albums with personality and I think this is something Gomez excels at.

WC:  “Medusa” seems to be particularly harsh against religion. Is the band against ALL religion or just organized religion or Christianity in particular? Would old pagan beliefs result in a superior world?

GM: I guess everyone in the band has differing levels of agnosticism or atheism. I am at the severe end of it. I would say I’m anti theist. I think all religion is a force for bad in the world. The world needs to pull together and as long as there are ridiculous tribes or cults that differentiate, that will never happen. Science and respect for all living things is the only way forward I think.

WC: Regarding the track “Gods of Ancient”, is this a statement that the old gods of Earth and Sky are better than the all-seeing single Gods of recent centuries?

GM: Not really. It’s just saying that these so called modern religions that worship invisible entities and mock the old religions have little or no basis for their beliefs. They are just born in a certain part of the world at a certain time and indoctrinated as children into believing this crap. At least the old religions worshipped something tangible that everyone could see and that they knew brought them life like the sun or trees or the ocean.

WC:  Did you guys do anything different than before to prepare or “psych yourself up” for “Medusa”?

GM: We just made a point of not overthinking it. We spent very little time recording it and more time getting the sound and the vibe we wanted. It took 3 days to get the guitar sound we wanted and only a day and a half to record all the guitars. Same with the drums. We wanted to keep it simple.

WC:  Is Paradise Lost coming from much the same place today as they did in their earliest days? I’m sure you’ve learned a lot, but is the fundamental idea behind the band the same?

GM: Yeah, the general feel of the band has never changed. We have just varied our approach over the years. We are just a miserable bunch of Northerners making music.

WC: “Medusa” is a character of fear from old mythology that combines beauty and unfathomable horror. What is the equivalent of Medusa’s gaze today…the computer screen, the smartphone?

GM: I think modern society, religion, consumerism etc. Money is probably at the root of all these things So money/greed may be the cause ultimately of everything that we hold dear as well as everything that horrifies us.

WC: What has the experience with Nuclear Blast been so far? 

GM: Fantastic. Great bunch of people. Really into the music and very clued into what makes the metal scene tick these days. When it comes to the music business I’d rather not know so it’s good to have people you trust handle that for you.

WC:  The band has been remarkably stable for many years. What’s the secret of this cohesion?

GM: Sense of humour, ultimately. If anyone took anything too seriously they probably wouldn’t be in the band any more.

WC:. Have you thought of how your music will evolve beyond “Medusa” or is it too early to say?

GM: I have no idea. I never look past today. It’s too depressing and overwhelming.

WC:  Do you think man is alone in the universe or is there other life out there? If so, are they in the same situation as us or maybe there is a chance for something superior?

GM: I think it is inevitable that there is an abundance of life in the universe. Many superior in intelligence and many inferior and probably types of life we can’t even comprehend. We are a fairly ridiculous species. We think we are so important and the centre of the universe but the reality is we have been here for what is relatively speaking the blink of an eye and we will be gone in the blink of an eye. Even faster if we are in control of our own destiny.

WC:If you could ask any 3 people from history to dinner, who would they be?

GM: My Father, Christopher Hitchens and Les, our tour manager.

WC: A question now about Vallenfyre and  Bloodbath. Will these bands be continuing with Paradise Lost members or is that time coming to an end?

GM: I have no idea about Bloodbath. They will probably continue to do festivals I imagine. With Vallenfyre,”Fear Those Who Fear Him” will be our final studio album but we will continue to play live until the end of 2018,then we will split.

WC:  Has there ever been a “Spinal Tap” moment in the history of Paradise Lost where things went haywire that you could share with us?

GM: Nearly every day of my life in a band has been a spinal tap moment. That’s why we don’t take anything other than the music too seriously. We regularly have “hello Cleveland” type moments.

WC: Any last words to the faithful?

GM: No