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Novela - Paradise Lost CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.04 | 10 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars 3rd album of Japanese band "Novela" brought (small) line-up and (bigger) music style changes. Bassist Yoshiro Takahashi left this group to create heavy metal outfit called "Action", together with Mototsugu Yamane who was out of "Novela" soon after "Paradise Lost" was recorded. Surprisingly, in such smaller formation (bassist wasn't replaced until their next album) their music direction switched towards more hard rock/heavy prog approach, compared with more symphonic previous records. However is isn't a bad record at all, just not in pair with "La Songerie" and "In The Night". Songs are evidently shorter and simpler. We can find only one mini-epic - "Requiem", which in fact sounds like 3 different tunes joined together by the same name and part 1, 2 & 3 numeration. Music is rather based on heavy guitars than usual Egawa's acrobatics here. But don't worry, when it's necessary keyboardist won't forget to present us some good leads & solos too.

Let's describe Paradise Lost's songs more precisely:

1. "Prelude To..." - it doesn't sound like "prelude" at all. Just short but "full" song with loud synthesizers and supportive organ & guitars. Vocals sound really OK here. Good start.

2. "Masked Circus" - this strange song begins with lots of quirky synth breaks and unusual, almost disco-like rhythm. Later is much better thanks to hard rockish guitar & organ lead. Solos in the middle are quite strange again, almost Gentle Giant parody...

3. "Get Away!" - another very short song (only 3 minutes) with truly fast...punk-rock rhythm. Lead guitar sounds very repetitive (like in all these disgusting punk-rock "songs") and Igarashi seems to have problem with in-key singing here. The only good thing in "Get Away!" is speedy guitar solo and constant Hammond background. Near the end vocalist scream "Get Away!"(or something like this...) again and again with forced aggression. They tried to mimic "Sex Pistols" or what??!!

4. "Miracle" - another short track, but this time (fortunately!) quite good one. Very basic, catchy melody and Egawa's organ are trademark here. I also like falsetto choruses in the refrain. Electric guitar solo in the middle is another plus.

5. "Ruins" - definitely the best song on "Paradise Lost" and one of the best in Novela's discography! Great double guitars leads, backing synths/organ, occasional sparkling electric piano & aggressive/frightening Igarashi's vocals make it truly fantastic song. I love the solo section which starts with angelic, synth-made chorus. Then powerful, violently ripping Hammond organ solo and melodic, electric guitar one. Brilliant! Perfect example of heavy prog essence!

6. "Requiem: Part 1" - and here comes 14-minutes long "epic". Unfortunately there is nothing to wait for... As I said in the beginning: "Requiem" sounds like 3 completely not connected pieces of music. And not so good music. First part is of the suite is quite boring and "over-sang". The only good fragment is beautiful solo spot with Pink Floydish guitar over lush mellotron waves.

7. "Requiem: Part 2" - nothing so interesting here too. Some mellow electric piano, very calm, almost non-audible organ and relaxing guitars. Fortunately in the middle we can listen to more symphonic section with another mellotron eruptions.

8. "Requiem: Part 3" - the last and shortest part of the suite is the most enjoyable one. Its firt minute consists from pipe organ-like melody (however I'm 99% sure it's still Hammond) with truly churchy atmosphere. After that Egawa switches to delicate-sounding synthesizer and Igarashi & Hirayama start to sing very soft passages (no idea what are they singing about but sounds very nice for me :-).

9. "The Third Sword" - one of the best songs on this record however not very memorable. 6 minutes long performance allow musicians to show more interesting staff with some progressive tempo changes, ripping guitar solos, synth flights and passionate, sometimes screamy vocals. Includes nice, acoustic-piano coda.

10. "Romance Promenade" - after few longer pieces "Novela" comes back to 3+ minutes formula..and fails miserably. It's only lackluster, dull, wannabe romantic ballad. Skip.

11. "Passion For Fashion" - guys wake up and deliver not-so-bad hard rocker called "Passion For Fashion". It's still very generic and doesn't show too much prog elements but it's surely one of more memorable tunes on "Paradise Lost". Heavy guitars dominate almost whole song and leave Toshio's keyboards (mostly some organ rides & synth gimmicks) in the background.

12. "Terra" - this composition show much more symphonic approach. Everything is here: loud string-synthesizers leads, guitar solos, swirling Hammond in the background & clear vocal delivery. Unfortunately melody is a bit diluted and that's why the song isn't too memorable after all.

In general this is okayish album, but I expected something more from Japanese prog rock legend like "Novela". This record repeats some "sins" from 2 previous 2 albums, like for example over-the-top, often high-pitched vocals which can be tasteless for many western countries listeners (but I really "dig" them now to be honest!) and makes some new mistakes, like too short songs, some wrong influences (punk-rock in "Get Away!" - bleeeh!) and pushing Egawa's trademark keyboards in the background, while they should be definitely upfront! However if you already have "La Songerie", "In The Night" and "Sanctuary"(which was recorded later but "Novela" seems to "repair" some of the mistakes from this LP there) you can also check this album. For sure it's worth to be added to your collection after all, just don't expect symphonic prog a la Yes, Genesis & ELP here. But if you like such classic bands as Uriah Heep, Rainbow, Queen or Deep Purple, you should also like "Paradise Lost".

Solid 3 stars from me.

ozzy_tom | 3/5 |


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