Interview: Paradise Lost – “The Plague Within” and defining their sound

Posted by Morgan Ywain Evans on Tuesday, June 16, 2015 at 6:42 PM (PST)


I think when you bring an album out, our job’s done. You’ve recorded it.
It’s that moment in time. When the record is released people need sound bytes
and a reason to buy a record. We’ve seen that. It’s always something. This
time around it’s “return to the roots”. That wasn’t what we were thinking when
we were writing it. - Greg Mackintosh

Paradise Lost are one of the most important metal bands of all time. Their
influence is hardly measurable, the sign of a next level tier of influence
occupied by bands with revered names like Candlemass, In Flames, Emperor,
Christian Death, Moonspell, Type O Negative or Celtic Frost. Bands who all
were or are so unique yet deeply affected the sound of the era they are mostly
associated with. Often imitated but never duplicated,so to speak (Did I
mention Draconian Times just turned 20?!)

It was an honor to speak, very early in the morning my Upstate, NY time, with
UK metal hero Greg Mackintosh about The Plague Within. This high charting and
no fucks given record is a later career milestone for the band, proof that
their morose glory still melts “Flesh From Bone”, to mention a newer song.

Read our discussion BELOW and be sure to purchase the new, brilliantly dark 14th album!


It’s not very gothic to be up with the sunrise.

G: No, it’s not. No, if I was you I wouldn’t have wanted to.

I’m a devoted metal fan. No, thanks for rescheduling. The last few records
have been heavy. Some people have been saying this one is more because of the
vocals, but there is still a wide variety of sounds. “Victim Of The Past” is a
diverse song. Maybe people are colored by their past views of the band
sometimes to not hearing the music just for what the song is. It’s natural.

G: Yeah, without a doubt. That comes with having a long history, I think. For
us as a band we can distance ourselves. What do we want to hear right now? It
keeps it fresh for us but people who are long term fans are always going to
reflect on certain parts of your career. I would do the same with other bands
I listen to. I’d rather have a career where people worry about that than not
have a career.

Absolutely. It’s all from a powerful place. “Return To The Sun” has a similar
cinematic kind of introduction like “As Horizons End” where you feel like
you’re watching a medieval tragedy unfold.

G: Yeah, that’s pretty funny you should say that. The start when I played it
for Nick, he said it reminded him of the part in Jason and the Argonauts when
the huge , golden statue is coming around the corner (laugh).

I saw Vallenfyre at the Decibel show in NYC. I had never seen you guys. It was
awesome. And you said a lot of bad words!

G: (laughing)

That was in hindsight perhaps my favorite performance of the night and I hadn’t heard Splinters
yet. Did being involved in that record make you want to make this Paradise
Lost record heavier, though you do different things in the two bands?

G: No. I’ve been doing Vallenfyre since 2010, so it would’ve been easier to
bring back those influences before now. The timing didn’t feel right. I look
at Vallenfyre as like the chaotic, angry sde of me. Paradise Lost is much more
refined, more somber. It’s easy for me to separate the two. I think my reason
for bringing back death vocals on this record is that when I spoke to the band
on this record I said I really didn’t want to be hindered by trying to avoid
any part of our career. I wanted to try anything out. I’d give Nick bits of
music and ask him to try a lot of styles out. The album could’ve ended up
completely different because of this.

I thought “An Eternity Of Lies” was brilliant. I love the combination of
strings and guitar build up. And mixed, really well layered vocals. “Terminal”
is probably my favorite right now becaue it’s so intense. A little different.
And “Cry Out”, that sounds like Entombed!

G: (haha) Some people are saying stoner rock and some Entombed. I’m happy with
any of it. I don’t care. It’s part of the album where we were a little more
influenced by Sabbath and that kind of stuff.

I thought of like Corrosion of Conformity, but with really heavy vocals. When
“Symbol of Life” came out and you had “Isolate”, that album was seen as a
return to heavier days. But it has always been about good songwriting. Believe
In Nothing starts off with suhc solid hooks and melody. It all matters.

G: I think when you bring an album out, our job’s done. You’ve recorded it.
It’s that moment in time. When the record is released people need sound bytes
and a reason to buy a record. We’ve seen that. It’s always something. This
time around it’s “return to the roots”. That wasn’t what we were thinking when
we were writing it.

There’s a lot of elements, some classic touches. Does it feel like you keep in
mind, being it is your fourteenth album…do you feel good to represent your

G: No, I’m not patriotic at all. I find patriotism quite bizaare. It’s why I
never got into sports like football. it’s a random factor to be born in a
certain geographical location. I took my son the other day to see San Andreas,
the new Rock film. So many American flags flying through the film. It was
ludicrous. For me patriotism is a way to brainwash people. For me, I’m proud
to have…done some things. Helped some people. That’s about it.


I guess I meant less the nationalism and more in regards to metal. How it is
cool to look at Paradise Lost and learn how you helped influence Gothic
metal.How it came out of your area.

G: You can definitely tell we are British. It’s funny when you hear bands from
another country and they sound British. And vice versa, the Rolling Stones
sound like an American Band.

It’s funny when Green Day sang like Joe Strummer.

People wear ther influences at times. Y’know, it’s unquantifiable to me. We
never set out trying to sound British, but it came across like that. Maybe it’s
in the sense of humor or being dour. But over the years we’ve had our own
country embrace us, forget about us and love us again. The UK is a very fickle
place when it comes to music. Certain countries in the world, people make up
their own mind. I would like to…I think it’s the UK media. It’s very bad for
heavy music. There’s maybe a couple internet radio shows and one magazine.

Is it more dance music now? I was glad to discover Winterfylleth recently.

G: Yeah. Totally. R&B and dance music. There used to be Goth clubs in
virtually every city in Europe and now there’s not much of… nothing.

No wonder you guys got heavier for this album.

G: It’s weird. Maybe there will be something once a month. It’s kind of
frowned upon here to a certain degree.

Congrats on Finland , where you charted super high.

G: Yeah, number four on the charts. Fifteen on the heat seeker in America.
Number seven in Germany. Even in the UK we were top 40, which we haven’t been
since the nineties. No one is interested in the charts here (laughing), but
it’s pretty favorable results for a bunch of miserable Northerners.

How was the studio process this time?

G: It was an interesting one. We’ve never done a whole album for a long, long
time where everyone was together in England. That’s what we did. It was kind
of hectic at the start. We’d written the album, Adrian went in to record the
drums. Then I decided to write more stuff. To have even less boundaries.
“Beneath Broken Earth” and “Flesh From Bone” I recorded in about four days and
sent them down while they were recording the drums, asking ,”can you track on
these as well.” And they were (laughing) exasperated and not happy about it.
But it turned out well.

Yeah, those are two of the best, doomier songs.

G: We didn’t want any kind of modern metal sound, cuz I’m bored to tears by

Did you use seven strings again? I literally paused the “Broken Earth…”
video and was trying to count.

G: Yeah? (chuckling) It’s seven strings. There’s been that a few years now.
People think it ws to get heavier but it was pure laziness. We have so many
different tunings for different records. Rather than take five guitars out
with us we can transpose what we play and have one tuning. We can play
anything from our career without switching guitars all the time. We also split
the signal to have one track that was sludgy and one that was more classic
metal. Combined we have a huge guitar sound. It was a trick I used on the
Vallenfyre stuff with Kurt Ballou.

Even on my laptop it really cuts and sounds great.

G: That’s good to know, because it’s amazing how many people listen on shitty
laptop speakers these days. I tend to listen in the car. The majority of my

I grew up with shitty punk cassettes but it’s nice when you can have it
somewhere between the two extremes.

G: I too grew up with tape trading. It’s nice when you can have things sound
somewhat organic and real. I don’t really dig it when people try to sound so
retro that they’re basically trying to sound shit. The reason bands had those
sounds is because they couldn’t afford it to sound better.

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Yeah, if you only like the first Black Sabbath album you are missing out on
Sabotage. Like I just saw Graveyard and they were awesome because it was
quality sounds BUT also vintage tones. I wanted to say, even someone new to
the band, “No Hope In Sight”, a new song…that could still be a good
introduction to Paradise Lost. Even if they didn’t know Draconian Times or

G: It’s nice to hear you say that. It does incorporate a lot of our trademark
elements into one song, so that could be a good start for someone.

“Beaneath Broken Earth”, you really feel like you’re experiencing it more than
watching a video.

G: That’s very good, because it’s kind of an anti-performance video. We hate
performance videos and we found out we had to do one. So we said, Ok…but
only if we can do the slowest song ever.

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