Paradise Lost’s Nick Holmes Explains How He Molds Lyrics to Clean + Harsh Singing
Paradise Lost's Nick Holmes was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program. The singer discussed the doom institution's 16th album, Obsidian, which was released earlier this year, further reflecting on the band's 32-year reign amid uncertain times.
Holmes is noted for his dual-threat vocal presence — a passionate crooner and frightening growler all the same. The frontman outlined how he caters his lyrics to his dynamic vocal abilities and how he uses certain schemes with each technique.
A beacon of consistency, Paradise Lost are always looking forward and Holmes is a bit taken aback at how long his band has been traversing the globe, playing a punishing death/doom mixture of sorrow-filled heavy metal.
Read the full interview below.
There's a strong creative relationship at the heart of Paradise Lost. What excited you most about the exchange of ideas that became Obsidian?
It's the 16th album by the band and we've been going for 32 years. We never think we've done our best album, we always try and do the best thing we can every time — it's really important.
It also decides what you're going to be doing for a couple of years afterward — the touring scenario — which isn't much at the moment, but going forward... From our point of view, it's important that the album be as strong as we can possibly possibly get it and it kind of gives it more life going on and on.
Obsidian continues in a direction not altogether different from your last two albums — Medusa and The Plague Within. How does the framework of continuity help or hinder new music?
Medusa was a very specific doom/death metal album, but that's what we wanted to do on that. With this one, we wanted to vary the songs a little bit and mix them up a bit more with acoustic parts, softer parts and heavy parts.
It wasn't as specific as our last album — our last album is very much a benchmark going forward. We don't tend to look across the back catalog of what we've done, we just looked maybe at the last album and kind of take the leap from there to see where we're going to carry on into the future.
You're able to create great dynamic contrast by utilizing different vocal styles. How does that give the lyrics a greater range of storytelling, especially on Obsidian?
I think I if you do the death metal singing, you can use a little more syllables and kind of bounce around the riffs with the voice. When it's a cleaner voice, I think it's more important to rhyme the lyrics a lot more. When it's more like an acoustic part, you can have a lot more fun or more extreme kind of words when it's the death metal vocals so that the two styles go to different places.
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Throughout the course of your career, Paradise Lost have successfully woven all sorts of musical styles into a cohesive, identifiable sound. How does that ability benefit longevity?
We always took each album at a time and never really had any kind of longterm plans. When we start writing an album, it takes three or four years of your life from the writing process to the touring side. Then you finish and then you start again and before you know it you've done a decade and then two decades, and then three decades [laughs].
It's gone incredibly fast. I remember the 10th anniversary of the band and I thought, "How do we get this far?" Now we're here at 32 years.
I just guess you start doing an album and then onto your next one and the next and it kinda goes along like that. We still absolutely love doing what we do — we never got tired of it and we still have a lot of drive left. Good news!
Paradise Lost don't tour in the U.S. as regularly as other European bands. What do you look forward to most when you come to America?
The last time we played I think it was the first time we did a proper headline show. It was actually fantastic and that is probably the best time we've ever been over to the States.
[We've had] quite a few support spots over the years. I think around 1993 we had a massive gap that we didn't come over for many years, which caused us to lose a lot of ground. Back in the day it was always about getting radio airplay that seemed to be the big thing to push bands. And now it's obviously a lot different from the Internet. Music is very accessible now. There's no reason why once we can get out and play again, that we won't to come over to America as much as we can.
Thanks to Nick Holmes for the interview. Grab your copy of Paradise Lost's 'Obsidian' album here and follow the band on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.
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