Paradise Lost has been a long time in the making. We’ve followed its progress from the off, and even caught up with Delta Heavy to discuss their music twice. Describing Paradise Lost earlier this year, Delta Heavy told us that ‘We wanted a title that had conjured images of grandeur and scale and we like the fact that it can be interpreted in a number of ways.’ Well, Paradise Lost is a grand old affair.
‘Paradise Lost’ opens the album in truly grandiose fashion. Deliberately lulling the listener into a false notion that Delta Heavy have turned tricks and gone for a more classical approach, it isn’t long before the big beats drop. With a sparse, spoke-word vocal (‘Dark nights, eyes glazed / Great heights, led astray / Flashing lights, empathy / Purple haze, 2CE’) reminiscent of Klangkarussell’s ‘We Want Your Soul’, ‘Paradise Lost’ is a true highlight on a solid debut.
Some tracks are slightly generic in terms of dubstep – ‘Event Horizon’ and ‘Pathways’ are instantly forgettable, unfortunately, but the highs vastly outshine the lows. Take ‘City of Dreams’ for example: this is a prime example of how to make dubstep for the masses. Its a hard drum and bass track with lashings of future house that sounds impeccable. These genres are sometimes labelled as ‘just noise’ but ‘City of Dream’ single-handedly manages to give the middle finger to the naysayers. This one is addictive. The beats aren’t overtly in your face, and there’s a solid vocal layered over the polished production.
Meanwhile ‘White Flag’ forces the listener to do exactly what the lyrics tell them to do: surrender. You’ll surrender to the beats and dance, because this song just demands that of you. Its repetitive lyrics, coupled with the smooth beats, means that you’ll have it stuck in your head upon your first listen.
Recent single ‘Punish My Love‘ sounds just as fresh here as it did on the first listen. It’s a love song, basically: ‘And I don’t wanna be without your love / Could offer me the world but it ain’t enough.’ But the beats are hard, and that’s what you want from a house song. You’ll be singing along with this one too.
‘Tremors‘ is an enigma. I can’t decide if its brilliant, or a huge misstep. The production is perfect, but the faux scary vocal doesn’t quite work for me. It would have been better with an actual singing vocal, or without the vocal all together. Production-wise, it’s probably one of the best on the album though.
‘Conquer the Galaxy’, however, is just brilliant. It features an unrelenting beat that has the power to drive you to the dance floor to throw some funky shapes – it’s that good!
‘Oscillator’ is perfect. It has potential to be huge. Opening with jungle beats and a spoke-word vocal detailing how beats are produced by a computer, it doesn’t sound like it will work. It sounds like another misstep. But when the beat kicks in and the huge drop bursts like gunfire, ‘Oscillator’ will drive you insane.It could easily soundtrack a science fiction movie battle scene. ‘The ultimate aim is to produce a sound that is completely acceptable to the listeners,’ the vocalist says midpoint. And boy have Delta Heavy produced something acceptable!
‘Ascending’ sounds like a giant prelude to ‘Reborn’, and if you’re listening to both tracks side-by-side it works exceptionally well; otherwise it falls flat. ‘Reborn’ features a raw, hard beat that is juxtaposed by the silkiest of vocals. Overall it sounds insanely good.
We described album standout ‘Ghost‘ as ‘completely mindfucking the listener into oblivion’, and it’s an assessment I still stand by. Hard beats and an ethereal vocal draws goosebumps. ‘I see your ghost at night / Every time I close my eyes’ – its a simplistic image, but one that works exceptionally well. You will not be able to forget this song. You’ll hear it at night. Every time you close your eyes.
Paradise Lost works best when there’s a vocalist to undercut the relentless beats. There are a few forgettable tracks along the way, but shave them off and Delta Heavy have a brilliant 10-track album hidden beneath the beats. It was worth the wait.