It’s more than 20 years since some lazy members of the rock press started touting Paradise Lost as the new British Metallica.
It’s not hard to spot parallels; like the Four Horsemen, the Halifax quintet swiftly developed from spotty oiks in the tape-trading underground to professional, accessible musicians on the brink of world stardom. Both bands continued diverging divisively from their former blueprint before attempting an about-turn to the sound of their heyday.
Judge for yourself which band did it better, but either way, Symphony For The Lost surely whips S&M into submission. Recorded in a spectacular 2nd-century Roman theatre in Bulgaria with the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra, the setlist cherrypicked for maximum orchestral impact, PL always had a dramatic, emotional grandeur that sounds wholly natural with classical backing (gnarly oldies Joys Of The Emptiness and Gothic inducing particular goosebumps), plus an elegant spaciousness assuring the symphonic augmentation doesn’t overload or clutter the arrangements.
The second half of the show is orchestra-free, and tellingly, you find yourself missing them, but Nick Holmes raises the bar for deadpan stage banter. “Have you guys got a moshpit going?” he asks the audience, crammed into steeply tiered stone seating. A cheer goes up. “Well, don’t.”