Paradise Lost, Tribulation & Lucifer @ Academy 2
Channelling the heavy rock/blues roots of the late 60’s, the inventors of metal Sabbath and the early 70’s proto-metal of bands like Sir Lord Baltimore, Lucifer deliver sweeping hooks twinned with sorcerous riffage. The four-piece, signed to Lee Dorian’s Rise Above records, deliver their occult flavoured heavy grooves with flair and captivating front-woman Johanna Sadonis hypnotizes the crowd with both swaying movement and soaring vocals.
It’s earwax-rattling stuff and long time Defender of the Riff, Gaz Jennings formerly of Cathedral, ensures the power of the riff remains in safe hands. Slow and doomy jams break into energetic musical workouts, giving sonic variety to the performance with drummer Andrew Prestidge and bassist Dino Gollnick holding down a tight rhythm section that allows Jenning’s bluesy soloing to swirl around majestically. Magical stuff.
Sometimes a band comes along and just gets it right. Stunning, bombastic, theatrical and, dare I say accessible, black metal: Tribulation are the missing link between Alice Cooper at his early days best, Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange film and Emperor!
Energetically hitting their stride as soon as they hit the stage, they hold the audience hostage for the duration. Hypnotising their victims, like Bela Lugosi’s Dracula, these four Swedish vampires enthral and entertain with stunners like In the Dreams of the Dead and Melancholia.
Stage left, guitarist Jonathan Hultén commands your attention, leering at the audience like an angry Droogie, breaking into a sinister grin and whirling himself around – a master of ceremonies. That’s not to discredit the rest of the band, comprising of Johannes Andersson Adam Zaars and Jakob Ljungberg, with a lack of style because although Hultén appears happy to be the main focus, the rest of the band enthrall in their own ways too.
Ultimately it’s a triumphant victory of both musicianship and showmanship. Tribulation are definitely ones to watch in 2015.
Oh, the cheeldren of the night. What sweet volume they bring.
“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light” - Aristotle
Paradise Lost stride on to the stage with the confidence earned from a band that released their debut in 1990 and recently celebrated 25 years as one of the greatest gothic metal bands ever.
Actually to label them as purely Goth is a disservice. Sure it lies at the pulsating heart of everything they do but they’ve allowed their sound to be affected my many other musical factors. Death metal and doom elements have merged successfully with a keen pop sensibility that always allows an inherent sense of English-ness to shine through.
With recent LP The Plague Within in the bag, the Lost boys open with No Hope in Sight, the lead track. It’s epic doom is fuelled by the characteristic sadness of many of their best songs and it’s a welcome beginning. Sampled operatic vocals introduce The Enemy from 2007’s In Requiem and it lifts the crowd into an enthusiastic frenzy. The epic breakdown riff in the middle is the absolute canine’s testiculars and leads nicely into the first ‘oldie’, Gothic. It’s a sign of expertise to me that a band can slow the pace right down and still create a genuine flow to a set list.
For a band with a reputation of being dour Northeners, there’s little evidence of it on stage. Aaron Aedy on rhythm guitar is always grinning happily and Nick Holmes is one of the driest, comedic front men ever to tread the boards. Greg Mackintosh wrings out some of the most heart destroying leads from his guitar, his tone very distinctive and melancholic, Steve Edmondson’s bass is a rumbling ogre tonight and Adrian Erlandsson hits the drums with all the mercy of Godzilla in Tokyo.
Apart from Enchantment, career long-player highlights Draconian Times and Icon are largely ignored in favour of more recent outings and of course the material from the new opus. But PL is well known for not wallowing in the past, always pushing forward and pleasing themselves. But when you have a catalogue of classics at your disposable like As I Die and the simply magnificent Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us pleasing the crowd too isn't difficult.
They end on the top quality pop-meets-goth-meets metal collision of Say Just Words with its iconic piano intro and Sisters of Mercy stylings. It’s a high-point of the set, crowd pummeling and as big a sing-a-along as you can expect. Paradise Lost always go down well in Manchester and tonight is no exeption. Win.
Words: Paul Cooke | Photos: Frederick Apps