"Everybody freaked out about how beautiful Debbie Harry was, but more focus should’ve been on how great that band were." Paradise Lost's Nick Holmes picks the 10 songs that changed his life

Paradise Lost frontman Nick Holmes
(Image credit: Anne C. Swallow)

"Dad rock" probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind when talking about Nick Holmes. The Paradise Lost frontman forged a unique career as an early pioneer of death-doom and gothic metal in the 90s, branching out into straight-up death metal when he took over as vocalist of Bloodbath in 2012, also embracing his love for snynth-driven goth with Host in 2023. 

But as Nick shares, his music tastes aren't confined to the macabre. Be it Rainbow, Glen Campbell or erm, Richard Harris, Nick has a wide-ranging music taste that somewhat explains how his bands are still producing some of their best material over three decades on from their formation, even re-recording classic album Icon to celebrate its 30th anniversary. That in mind, here are his picks for the ten songs that set him on the path to greatness.  

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1. Rainbow - I Surrender (Difficult To Cure, 1981)

I Surrender by Rainbow could be the song that got me into rock music – definitely one of the first I heard. It gets played on the tour bus regularly because it’s great to sing to after a few drinks! I wasn’t really into the dad rock stuff when I was young because I was more into death metal. People are always surprised when I talk about discovering one of those bands now – like, ‘Don’t you remember this?’ Well no, I was more into Venom!"

2. Mercyful Fate - A Dangerous Meeting (Don't Break The Oath, 1984)

"Venom and Mercyful Fate were an enormous part of me getting into metal; Don’t Break The Oath is my favourite album of all time. I got it when it first came out and haven’t stopped listening to it regularly since – I still have as much enthusiasm for songs like A Dangerous Meeting as I did when I was a kid." 

3. Glen Campbell - Wichita Lineman (Wichita Lineman, 1968)

"Wichita Lineman is a tour bus favourite – it’s the kind of track we’ll pull out when people are really getting into condition. It was originally written by Jimmy Webb but I absolutely love the Glen Campbell version."

4. Richard Harris - MacArthur Park (A Tramp Shining, 1968)

"MacArthur Park is much the same, actually; it was originally by Donna Summer but I love the version by Richard Harris. I don’t know if he’s drunk or not, but I’d like to think he is as it’s got this really hammy, drunk dad at a disco sound and the lyrics are insane – ‘Someone left the cake out in the rain/I don’t know if I can take it, cause it took so long to bake it’!" 

5. Q Lazzarus - Goodbye Horses (single, 1991)

"There are certain songs that come on in TV shows, movies or adverts and they just take you to another place. Like Goodbye Horses by Q Lazzarus – you can’t hear it without picturing Buffalo Bill in Silence Of The Lambs. It’s been completely transformed by that film; I can’t hear it now without finding it really creepy!"

6. Ennio Morricone - The Ecstasy Of Gold (The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, 1966)

"I was catching up with all the Clint Eastwood movies even before the lockdown – it’s almost a midlife crisis for people my age to get into those movies – so Ennio Morricone’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly soundtrack has been on a lot in my house lately. The Ecstasy Of Gold is an astounding piece of music, even if people do just associate it with Metallica now; there’s a bit where he fires a cannon at The Ugly as he’s running through a graveyard and the music starts – it’s one of the best cinematic scenes ever. It’s so over the top, with the guy rolling out the way of cannon fire, almost like something out of Bottom!

7. Lard - Sylvestre Matuschka (The Last Temptation Of Reid, 1990)

"Speaking of over the top, when Lard’s The Last Temptation Of Reid came out we were completely obsessed. Sylvestre Matuschka has these lyrics about this mass murderer who’d masturbate to trains blowing up – all hearsay, apparently! I heard the story and thought it was utterly insane, so I loved it. It’s a great album and Jello [Biafra] sounds fantastic on it – his high voice complements the heaviness perfectly; sometimes I wish he’d done an Ice-T thing and completely teamed up with a metal band."

8. Blondie - Atomic (Eat To The Beat, 1979)

"I recently heard Atomic by Blondie when I was out and just couldn’t get over how good it was. When they started out everybody freaked out about how beautiful Debbie Harry was, but more focus should’ve been on how great that band were! Blondie weren’t a one-hit wonder like so many other groups of the time – they just kept knocking them out."

9. Aerosmith - Dream On (Aerosmith, 1973)

"When my kids were little I took them to Disneyworld. They have this thing called the Rock’n’Roller Coaster and Dream On by Aerosmith plays the whole way round. I took my eldest daughter on when she was far too young and by the time we got off I had to fireman carry her away because she was screaming her eyes out. I held her for like 25 minutes and that song just played in the background on loop – now whenever we hear it I always laugh, remembering that rollercoaster!"

10. Vast - Winter In My Heart (Nude, 2004)

"I tried doing a teardrop challenge with my daughter a few years back, where I tried to cry to a piece of music while she stared at me, but inevitably I’d just burst out laughing. I reckon I could do it to Winter In My Heart by Vast, though, as it’s a brilliant, sad song. It’s not very well known either; if it’d been done by Radiohead it would have been massive.

Paradise Lost's Icon 30 is out now

Rich Hobson

Staff writer for Metal Hammer, Rich has never met a feature he didn't fancy, which is just as well when it comes to covering everything rock, punk and metal for both print and online, be it legendary events like Rock In Rio or Clash Of The Titans or seeking out exciting new bands like Nine Treasures, Jinjer and Sleep Token.