Host – IX – Album Review

Host – IX – Album Review

22nd February 2023 0 By George Simpson

It’s not often that an album can be referred to as being intriguing, but this one is most certainly in that category. When I heard it was a Paradise Lost side project called Host, and I remembered the relevance of that title, I knew I had to hear it.¬†

Paradise Lost had started the nineties as one of the shining lights of the UK gothic metal scene. By the time they had released the rather marvellous Icon in 1993, and the following year’s equally ace Draconian Times, their sound had begun to expand. Consequently, their next album, One Second in 1997 saw an electronic element creeping into the mix. Then, two years later, they released Host, which fully embraced electronica, and unsurprisingly met with a mixed response from fans. It was hard to believe it was the same band that started the decade.

Fast forward twenty-four years, and PL duo vocalist Nick Holmes, along with guitarist Greg Mackintosh are revisiting this sound once more under the moniker Host, and have delivered a pretty good album is the shape of IX. Indeed, releasing this as a separate project from their day jobs is a smart move. They can fully immerse themselves in a dark Depeche Mode-like vibe, without the pressure, and expectation, of having to be Paradise Lost this time. 

 

One thing that should be said from the off, is that this is not a metal album. Equally, it’s not a synth-pop album either. It manages to find a gloriously dark middle ground between the two stools, without ever being close to sitting on either. As if to provide a bridge between their two projects, Wretched Soul is arguably the most PL-sounding¬†track here. The electronic influence is quite subtle but opens the door perfectly for you to explore the rest of album.

 

From there on in, the electronic influence comes to the fore. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s certainly immersive listening once you start. The best song on offer here to my ears is Tomorrow’s Sky. Whilst boasting a very modern sound, it proudly wears an early 80s vibe on its sleeve, as does much of this album. The sound is very reminiscent of the early years of synth exploration from that time. The darker elements of Depeche Mode, OMD and New Order/Joy Division spring to mind, for example.¬†

 

Whilst this album is musically far removed from Paradise Lost’s usual heavy riffing doom, there is still the melancholic gothic vibe that they have mastered over the years. Indeed, on most of this album, you certainly can tell it’s them. Take a track like My Only Escape for example. You could easily imagine them doing this track with the band, by merely swapping the synths for guitars. That said, it’s still a great, gloomily dark track in this guise.

 

As a result of managing to create that musical bridge between this project and their full-time band, they have managed to write a very authentic-sounding album. The freedom that this has afforded them, means that they can still be themselves whilst sounding completely different. It would’ve been very easy for this album to have become a Nine Inch Nails pastiche for example, but instead merely channels them as one of many influences driving this project.¬†

 

The album ends with a fantastic nod to these influences. Their brooding slowed-down cover of A Flock Of SeagullsI Ran is both an apt, and great way to close the album. They reimagine the song as a gloomy dark anthem, which works wonderfully. Indeed, you could argue this is this album’s unique selling point, Paradise Lost reimagined, without getting slaughtered for not being Paradise Lost.¬†

 

All in all, this is a pretty good album, a refreshing detour from the norm. If you’re a fan of them and have an open mind, you’ll find plenty to enjoy here. It remains to seen whether the two bands can exist in tandem, but on this evidence, I’d definitely like to hear more from Host.¬†

Score: 7/10

Tracklisting:

1 РWretched Soul 

2 – Tomorrow’s Sky

3 – Divine Emotion

4 – Hiding From Tomorrow

5 – A Troubled Mind

6 – My Only Escape

7 РYears Of Suspicion 

8 – Inquisition

9 РInstinct 

10 – I Ran

Release Date:  24th February 2023

Label: Nuclear Blast Records 

For all things Host, click HERE, to purchase the album,. click HERE

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