Paradise Lost: Musical Evolution

Image property of Paradise Lost.

Paradise Lost: The band, not the poem

Many hear the name “Paradise Lost” and think of the famous poem written by English poet John Milton in the 1600’s, I believe. There have also been movies and likely books titled the same or very closely related. That is all fine of course as it’s a great two-worded title.

The band Paradise Lost was formed in Halifax, England in 1988 by singer Nick Holmes, guitarist Greg Mackintosh, guitarist Aaron Aedy, bassist Steve Edmondson, and drummer Mathew Archer. Between Lost Paradise (1990) and, most recently, Tragic Idol (2012), they’ve spent twenty two years racking up thirteen studio albums and four live recordings despite very little media support. In 2013, the band announced that they have begun work on a fourteenth studio album.

I picked up the One Second album in 1997 after a coworker of mine suggested them to me when I said that I was looking for a band that was heavy, yet melodic. They fit like a glove for that point in my life. This as even more true with the One Second album in particular being higher in tempo. I then grabbed its predecessor, Draconian Times (1995). The album’s opener of “Enchantment” starts with a thirty second long piano introduction, the second track “Hallowed Land” starts with a very distorted but pretty guitar riff and the fact that Draconian Times was (is) so much different from One Second in that it was much slower in tempo and much darker. I knew I had found a band that was much different than other bands I was into at the time. Being only 18 years old at the time, finding my musical identity was pretty important

The band released Reflections, a compilation, in 1998 and little did I know that would be it for Paradise Lost releasing physical CDs in the United States for some time. There isn’t a wealth of information as to why, other than record label issues, but they no longer had a US distributor. Thus, no more physical albums were to be released in the United States itself. Keep in mind that the year was 1998, Cdnow was still (as I remember) the top online music store as Amazon hadn’t acquired Cdnow until 2001 or so. I also remember that due to legal reasons, was still based in the United States and therefore wasn’t able to carry (among other things) any future Paradise Lost album. Note: if this information is incorrect, please comment and correct me. Credit will be given.

This opens up my own personal facts on how the band that still receives very little or no media support still continues to thrive. Like many bands of many different genres that have achieved longevity and survived often decades, they seemed to work hard (and patiently) building a very strong and loyal fan-base. They chose the “solid, brick-by-brick” approach rather than what seems to be more common in current times: “as fast as we can with straw or anything we can find”. When Paradise Lost’s music went to strictly overseas, I was still hungry for more of them. I heard a few songs of their Host (1999) album that had taken a much softer, melodic direction and was immediately intrigued considering I love many genres of music. Nick Holmes’ voice was cleaner and it sounded more mature. I don’t remember which website it was but I had found a UK copy of the album and ordered it despite the much higher shipping cost. In fact, I believe any album I bought the UK version overseas cost me nearly double what it would have been if I had bought it in the United States. Even so, when the Host album came, I was as excited as a boy getting a shiny new bike.

This method continued with their Believe In Nothing (2001) and Symbol of Life (2002) albums. Symbol of Life, I remember, I was particularly shocked by when I threw it in. “Isolate” started and I just slowly sat down as they seemed to have gone back toward a higher tempo and heavier direction. Symbol of Life was also eventually assigned to Koch Records in the United States, but I still had bought the import a year before it was available. Music addiction.

2005 brought their self-titled album produced by Rhys Fulber (of Conjure One, Delerium, formerly of Front Line Assembly, and had worked with the likes of Fear Factory, among others). Fulber had also produced the Symbol of Life album. Paradise Lost (self titled) was a continued progression back toward the earlier days. Though early albums like Lost Paradise were very much in the vein of death/gloom metal, they were headed back in the direction of Draconian Times, or at least that’s my opinion. It seemed that their days of experimenting with a lighter, progressive metal style had ended and (to date), that seems to be true.

Paradise Lost officially returned to the United States via, my opinion again, one of the most important independent (and eventually international) metal labels that has been conceived: Century Media Records who released Paradise Lost’s eleventh studio album In Requiem in 2007 which was, again, produced my Mr. Rhys Fulber. If there was any doubt that the band may backtrack to the softer style, In Requiem and songs such as the ultra dark “Praise Lamented Shade” proved otherwise. The cover also featured what had become iconic of Paradise Lost: dark, unsettling, and ultimately very well done.

Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us (2009) was introduced to the world and Nick’s vocals pulled back to a more strained and pained, yet melodic style while songs such as “As Horizons End” proved that Paradise Lost isn’t through reinventing themselves. Even I was guessing they’d pull back completely to their doom metal origins, but yet they took a hard left (or right if you wish) into new territory and somehow made doom beautifully, darkly melodic and inspiring.

Their thirteenth, and most recent, body of work titled Tragic Idol is possibly one of their heaviest albums since the pre-Draconian Times days (albums such as Lost Paradise, Gothic, Shades of God, and Icon). The song “Crucify” especially really quite surprised me in guitar riffs as it pulled apart from Aaron Aedy’s rhythm guitar style. It’s much heavier with more hooks and pull-offs than he normally uses.

What Paradise Lost has been up to

According to the bands official website, ParadiseLost.Co.Uk, they are continuing to work on their fourteenth album but do have quite a few concerts in the near future, which is not surprising considering Europe’s summer festival traditions:

  • M’era Luna Festival – Hildesheim, Germany on August 9th
  • Vagos Open Air – Vagos, Portugal on August 10th
  • Alt-Fest – Kettering, UK on August 15th
  • For tickets and other dates across Europe, please visit Paradise Lost

The Dilemmas of Loan Budgeting

The Dilemmas of Student Loan Budgeting

The headaches and anxieties of paying for college is far from a secret and far from a solution. I am an e-Campus student (also known as Online Student or Distance Learning), sometimes that makes things easier but I suspect it also complicates things sometimes as well. However, I do think the on campus students have more “unknowns” to worry about. I do get the luxury of avoiding gas, possibly dorm costs, on campus meals, and many other costs. Although, there are many other costs such as full rent, my own Internet (many Colleges/Universities provide), electricity, and all of my supplies. In the end though, I really can’t compare nor do I think it’s relevant. Likely, I will be doing on campus classes next fall and my perception of the difference between the two is probably drastically off.

When it comes to student loans, I always have dilemmas though. If you’re like me, who likes to take summer courses, I often have no grant money remaining to help pay for any of those classes, not that I’m ungrateful at all. So, planning ahead is essential and regardless if you’re an e-Campus student or an on campus student, there’s little worse in the financial department than running out halfway through the school year. For me, I have to budget the cost of, usually, six credits plus the estimation of books for the summer courses and of course also try and predict what will be needed for the spring semester period.

To do this, I broke things down into categories on priority. Nothing can ever prepare us for the “unknowns” and things that just happen. One week ago, my car decided to start overheating and with me not being mechanically inclined, I have to wait until that first installment to even find out what the repair will be and the cost or even if it’s worth fixing. So, cross that bridge when you come to it but if it’s already happened such as me needing rear tires too, just give it an educated high estimate and also do a separate estimate of worst case scenario. Which, in my case, is how much is feasibly possible to spend on another used car as reliable transportation is helpful, granted there is the bus system. Go Green! This is my breakdown of my categories, this is only my system, everyone’s situation is different of course.

“The Must Haves”
This is mostly self-explanatory: the necessities. However, I do take it a step further and if you’re living on your own, with room-mates, or a similar
situation: I plan to try and pay some monthly bills ahead. This takes the strain off monthly income, which also stresses us out so it does likely help us
do better academically or at least focus better. Anything that you can do from paying the six month bulk payment on your car insurance (which often generates
a discount anyway) if you have a car, or pay your mobile phone bill three or so months in advance, your Internet bill in advance if your College/University doesn’t
provide it, and so forth. This also gives breathing room for socializing for stress relief when you need to or making it to that gathering if that male or female
that you wanted to meet shows up somewhere. Logically, if anything comes up, then you’re already set.
“Productivity Boosters”
Some would argue these, some wouldn’t. “Productivity Boosters” to me are anything that help me perform better academically. Whether it’s a better
desk that has more surface space, a task chair that decreases back pain from long hours of studying, even a certain type of pen that helps my hand not cramp up so bad or
notebooks that are tougher that can be tossed around in a Targus backpack without getting demolished along with your notes.
Even if it’s a book stand to hold it up so you can type your notes while reading and not create a notorious neck ache that seems to live forever. I do better academically, it lowers
my stress, and I tend to enjoy the assignments that I’m doing more.
“The ‘Need’ vs. ‘Want’ Battle”
This is where the gray area begins. Of course, I’m not including frivolous spending because students can argue just about any use of spending. I’m very likely in that group, maybe
even among these. With me being a Web Development major, it’s pretty easy to put up a good argument why it would be helpful to invest in an Asus MeMo Pad tablet to test and practice Responsive Designs on. It’s a valid argument because it’s also true, but do I need it now? It may benefit or
it may not. Another example visiting my mind right now too is picking up an inexpensive/benchmark Dell Inspirion 15.6″ budget laptop. I type
pretty fast and can sometimes be a little tough on the keys. I have noticed that techies and companies alike connect the possibility that users of more inexpensive and budget laptops are going
to be a little harder on them, especially the keyboards. With a keyboard that I don’t have to be as delicate with such as my
Asus X750JB 17.3″
, which I adore by the way, I could likely kick out notes quicker. I also see it, “trying to justify it”, as a laptop that I can experiment a bit such as the example of
learning to wipe the hard drive clean if able and run Linux operating system on it instead of Windows. Also, the ability to type out or have more compact ease to practice programming,
at least anything that isn’t going to be processor hogging since many budgets are lower in memory, hard drive space, and processor power. With enough brainstorming, we can probably justify nearly
anything and maybe that’s a problem in the geek world. Gadgets aren’t among the cheaper items on the market.

Regardless of your college financial situation, major or background, I think every college student should know how to budget. This should be especially true if of the younger generation or if you’re entering college just out of high school. It took me far too long in my adult life to realize it’s massive importance. As when it pertains to studying, it’s not always the most fun to decline a fun social outing, but (shrug) responsibility isn’t always glamorous but it’ll get us where we can enjoy those things far more….or so we hope. However, especially in College, where it’s so easy to type in a loan amount and click “enter”, budgeting is protecting ourselves from temptation. I apologize if that sounded preachy.



I will be working on making sure this blog/Wordpress site doesn’t look so “blah”. It almost reminds me of the old Geocities days. (Shivers).

Introduction To Me

     The Introduction:

     The subject lines aren’t the best, however, we’ll let the fact that I haven’t posted a single serious blog entry in about two years. So, when much of this first post (especially the use of the standard text box instead of HTML and other custom formatting) is amateur, think of it more as a warm up.

     I am a student about to go into my fourth semester for my Web Development AAS, not including summer school. I should only have this semester and one more semester and my Associates Degree is complete. While I’m using the regular text editor on the WordPress site, not even the text/HTML tab, it is simply to warm up and get familiar with the WordPress way of doing things. I am still getting used to the idea of frameworks and similar. So far in college, we have simply done everything by hand and by scratch. I’ve enjoyed it and it really helps us understand certain things such as, example, why floats in CSS act the way they do.

     One of my upcoming classes, Web Applications I, I have a gut feeling will start introducing us to the idea of frameworks, although my school did add a Content Management Systems class that teaches frameworks such as WordPress. My goal is to be completed at latest of summer of next year as I am contemplating starting a four year school next fall, or beginning a second Associates Degree or, another possibility is a Certification program. So the “CMS” class is uncertain as there are other classes I will need before that in order to graduate.

     I promise to work on becoming more concise in future posts, pinky swear. I do have the WordPress software downloaded, but am exploring it and working with a book to help me understand the basics. I’ll plug the book, then explain a bit about my goal for this blog and some. The book is Building a WordPress Blog People Want to Read (2nd Edition) by Scott McNulty.

     The Blog:

     I’m not setting out for this to be a personal blog, or a tech blog, or a music blog, or a social awareness blog. To be honest, I want it to be a little bit of everything although I don’t plan on getting too personal at all. For example, I probably won’t mention specific situations, persons, schools (at least not my own), and so forth. This won’t be a journal. I am going to leave the idea open to possibly have another (or more) join to post if there’s something important they want to raise a hand about but they would be hand picked and it would be respectful. I don’t want this blog to take a political, religious or any other side other than informative and simple discussion on topics. If there is an entry on an issue, it would most likely be to simply raise awareness. I’m still refining a more professional and proper writing style so feel free to comment if a point may have been put in a more objective way. However, comments on grammar, etc are okay but unnecessary. There may be some geekery and humor, but I would see cursing and inappropriate slang as unacceptable of myself. Even if a post is on a metal band that I very much enjoy, I will try and keep it as objective as possible. This blog is more for practice at coexisting while speaking my mind more than anything.

Because of this, I did leave comments open for now because I hope to receive some good feedback. However, if abused with vulgar and offensive comments, I will close that feature. I don’t need to see that and other readers most likely don’t need to see that or appreciate that.

     Me In A Nutshell:

     As I mentioned, I was born and raised in Fargo, North Dakota. In my younger years, I spent much of my time working in restaurants before moving onto working in call centers. I wasn’t the most successful high school student and left for personal reasons in my junior year. I pushed ambitiously to return nine years later to receive my GED and did surprisingly better than I ever thought I would, contrasting my C, D average in high school. I applied to college in late 2012 and began in the spring semester in January of 2013. I’ve worked ambitiously and hope to retain the knowledge they’ve taught me so when I do enter the field, I haven’t lost any more than a little bit of that information, if any. As I mentioned, I am within a year of completing my Associates in Web Development. My mind is contemplating either an Associates in Computer Programming, Software Development, Web Programming, or similar. A far more ambitious option is to enter a four year school and begin working on my Bachelor’s Degree for Computer Science and Information Systems. I’ve struggled with math in the past, so the large amount of math is one of the main apprehensions I have. Understandably, so is drastically increasing my student loan debt, even when I know the output is more than worth it.

     Even if I were to stay with this single Associates Degree, I’d feel mentally wealthier by far. College has showed me a side of myself I didn’t know existed. I seek out non-fiction books and read intently to see the world in different ways, unlike I had seen before due to thinking maybe a bit small. Granted, I set my compass to the technology books first but I definitely have a strong interest in other subjects especially psychology. Communication, philosophy, ethics and marketing are also subjects I would enjoy dabbling in enough to gain perspective.

     I do enjoy fiction too, though I admit many are tied to movies whether it be the books themselves or authors who have also written books made into movies. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk is one of my favorites. I am still trying to get started on Invisible Monsters as well. I have been a fan of Ray Bradbury since I was a child even. The list goes on but books, movies and music seem to run a similar theme and they all often tend to be dark, or at least well written and well done. Though I still don’t understand many of his movies, I continue to be a huge fan of David Lynch and Twin Peaks continues to be one of my favorite mini-series, while Lost Highway is one of my favorite movies.

     In Closing:

     This first post became far too long, my apologies. I do plan on creating and launching my own blog site along with other things. A catch is I don’t feel I quite know enough yet, unless I just want to make a simple static page. I don’t know the programming quite yet to create interactive/dynamic pages such as posting blogs, images, and so forth. I would rather wait and do it right than try and get by unless I’m simply doing a gallery site using JavaScript/jQuery mostly, and “winging it” at that. Hopefully soon, many projects will evolve. I appreciate your time. 

~SpartanByte (name of school mascot + byte)