As my love for ambient artists grew and developed, I started looking for longer metal songs that provided a more epic scope and incorporated out of genre influences. Doom metal acts like Candlemass and My Dying Bride began to dominate my listening. Armed with all of the genre-hopping bands that metal has to offer, the way that I viewed the genre itself started to change drastically. Paradise meshes ambient soundscapes with doom/death metal in a way that is lush, organic, and spacey. At five tracks and seventy-six minutes, Lucian the Wolfbearer has created a journey that gives listeners plenty of room to breathe while still providing bouts of suffocating death growls and heavy distortion.
The first track “Fallen Genesis” provides a perfect initiation into what this one man project has in store. A gorgeous ambient section gives way to crushing doom metal, and by that description it can seem like it has been done before by more capable bands. The biggest difference on Paradise is that sole member Sean Kratz creates a beautiful yet depressive mood that never lets up throughout the entirety of the song. The atmosphere of the first few minutes continues to pervade the whole track, creating a uniquely heavy sound that is all-encompassing; the choir that comes in the more solemn moments of the song makes the eleven-minute run-time seem much shorter. That is truly par for the course for the album itself, as the centerpiece “Paradise (Chapter I)” runs for almost thirty-two minutes but progresses so naturally it doesn’t seem nearly that long. Instead of destroying any forward momentum the first songs provided, it ends up being a masterpiece. From the warm ambient beginning of the track to the more haunting and evocative second half, Kratz doesn’t seem concerned with creating something palatable for listeners. However, it’s all the better for us; Paradise is an absolute beast of a musical journey from start to finish, not only exploring in an epic scope as described before, but also in the deep nooks and crannies unearthed along the way.
Lucian the Wolfbearer has created quite the work of art here; he ventures in and out of doom metal and dark ambient primarily, but there is a spacey quality here that is done extremely well without ever seeming cheesy or out of place. The only misstep present on the album itself is the last track “Wytchcraft”; the clean vocals and repetitive riffs found on this track makes it seem like a B-side that was thrown in as an afterthought. It somewhat cheapens the one-two punch of the “Paradise” tracks, but it doesn’t prevent this album from being one of the more unique metal albums to come out in a very long time. For all of the immediate enjoyment derived from countless hours of death metal goodness, Paradise provides a more grandiose and genre-defying take on metal that challenges (and rewards) the listeners just a little more.
1. Fallen Genesis
2. They Reap What They Sow
3. Paradise (Chapter I)
4. Paradise (Chapter II – Harbinger)
Buy this from Lucian the Wolfbearer direct here.