I always find it a strange experience reviewing album reissues, particularly one as critically lauded and well known as Paradise Lost's masterful work 'Draconian Times'. After all, what else can be added to what has already been said? Or, rather, what is the worth of any further critical commentary 16 years after its original release? Well, reissued it has been for scrutiny anew although, refreshingly, it's been remixed/remastered by famed Swedish metal producer Jens Bogren. Released under the banner of Sony's Legacy series, the album's also received a 5.1 surround mix although this second disc hasn't been made available for review here so my comments will pertain to just the first disc. As the tranquil piano intro of 'Enchantment' rings out, it's already evident that Bogren's talents have worked wonders in rejuvenating the sound of what one has come to expect when listening to 'Draconian Times'. And that's true of the entire album, as each classic tune (for they are all classics; I never regarded this album to have any filler) resonates forth with a crisp, clear and far more modern sound than each song previously had. It's actually a sheer joy to revisit the album in this revitalised form and brings a smile to one's face. I'm certain that some purists will criticise the remastered version of 'Draconian Times' and see no worth in tampering with what's already regarded as a classic album and seminal work in Paradise Lost's canon of work but the majority will indubitably revel in such a treatment. Hell, some will probably even discover the album for the very first time - sounding as good as this it has been made ripe for both rediscovery and discovery afresh. Personally, I've listened to 'Draconian Times' on and off over the years so it's difficult to be too objective when passing judgement on the actual songs but I believe they have dated very little. That's probably partly to do with the influence this album still has on certain bands within today's metal scene but is also a mark of the compositional skills of Paradise Lost back in the day. There are also some previously unreleased bonus tracks on offer - 1994 demo versions of 'Enchantment' and 'Last Desire' with the latter never released in any form before as it didn't make it onto the album, plus five live tracks from a 1995 German show. So at least there's a little extra incentive there to re-purchase 'Draconian Times' for those who already own it and wouldn't consider the remaster/remix reason enough. On a side-note, it's great to see the long defunct Music For Nations logo on a CD again!
DRACONIAN TIMES (LEGACY EDITION)
Review by Mark Holmes
4th April 2011
DISC ONE: 1) Enchantment; 2) Hallowed Land; 3) The Last Time; 4) Forever Failure; 5) Once Solemn; 6) Shadow Kings; 7) Elusive Cure; 8) Yearn For Change; 9) Shades of God; 10) Hands of Reason; 11) I See Your Face; 12) Jaded; 13) Enchantment (demo); 14) Last Desire (demo); 15) Forever Failure (live - 1995); 16) Shadow Kings (live - 1995); 17) Once Solemn (live - 1995); 18) Hallowed Land (live - 1995); 19) The Last Time (live - 1995)
DISC TWO: DVD with 5.1 mix of album plus bonus video footage
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"As the tranquil piano intro of 'Enchantment' rings out, it's already evident that Bogren's talents have worked wonders in rejuvenating the sound of what one has come to expect when listening to 'Draconian Times'."