It’s no secret that we here at Sentinel Daily love Brit goth icons Paradise Lost; The only band to have won our coveted album of the year gong twice, for many of us here they sum up all that is great about ‘proper’ heavy metal, especially in it’s British iteration. But what might come as a surprise to some is that we love all phases of the band’s career – including their wilderness ‘synthpop’ releases…

At the end of the day, a good song is a good song however it’s rendered, and Paradise Lost’s controversial Host (geddit?!) was jam packed with the buggers. And so it is now that PL mainmen Gregor Mackintosh and Nick Holmes present us with their much vaunted side project called, you guessed it – Host.

If you only like the metal years of the PL discography, you may as well stop reading here for, save for some beautifully executed guitar work from Mackintosh, there’s precious little for you here. But for the rest of us? Well, that’s a different matter.

At it’s best (the superb duo of Tomorrow’s Sky and Hiding From Tomorrow) the pair transport you back to about 1983, fusing the worlds of synthpop and post-punk into an easy-to digest package, in the process reminding you what master songwriters they really are. The Depeche Mode-referencing A Troubled Mind is quite sublime, built along sparse rhythmic lines that leave acres of space for the commanding vocals of Holmes and the always on-point axe interjections from his oppo, which come drenched in aching emotion and hit home perfectly without ever threatening to overpower the basic structure of the song. The heavier Year of Suspicion also echoes DM with it’s loose, rock n’roll guitar lines and bombastic pretension mixed with little off kilter parps and belches from the keys that add tension and dark dynamics to the mix.

My Only Escape tips it’s hat to Gary Numan in it’s scratchy, scitterish build up and release, and the oh-so-evocative, reverb drenched synths that entwine with Holmes at the start of the track won’t fail to hit the bullseye if you’re of an age to remember them the first time around; however this isn’t necessarily an exercise in nostalgia or arch-post modernism. It’s taking an element of what inspired these two men as young musicians, twisting and forming it to produce music that sounds incredibly relevant in 2023.

Throw in a clever reworking of the Flock of Seagulls classic I Ran – OK, there’s a little bit of nostalgia for you – and you’ve got one hell of a well-put together record, one which stands up both as it’s own album and, despite this being a side project, as part of the rich PL legacy that Holmes and Mackintosh have built up over the years. Great stuff from start to finish!

IX releases on February 24th.