When an experiment works – review of Host debut album “IX”

Author Benedetta Baldin - 3.2.2023

Honestly, I am not a fan of side projects; to me, they always seemed like a lateral diversion from something else. But I have to eat my words and thoughts after listening to the debut album of Host, a project born from two members of Paradise Lost. The record, named “IX”, to be released on 24 February 2023, is a product that I have never ever dreamed of listening from Nick Holmes and Greg Mackintosh.

The album contains so many influences, it’s like a very fun game to try and name them all (this is a big item in the pro column, in my opinion). Then, the songs aren’t metal in the literal sense of the word (and genre), but this is the exciting thing about it. From “Wretched Soul“, my personal favorite, to the cover of A Flock of Seagulls‘ “I Ran“, this album has transported me to the 1980s, an era that unfortunately I will never experience due to my young-er age. What a remarkable journey I have taken!

The melodies are perfectly structured and balanced throughout the songs, the vocals are captivating (yet sometimes ripetitive), the production is crystalline and the atmosphere is simply unparalleled. Memories of times long gone combined with avant-gard yet customary rhythms are the ingredients to a very strong start by Holt.

I have particularly appreciated how Mackintosh has outlined his guitar work, not by oppressing and taking control of everything, but by diligently doling out the perfect amount required. Holmes said that he wished to have released Paradise Lost‘s “Host” as a side project “to save us a lot of silly bother.” I am fairly confident that nowadays no one would even have the courage to make fun of a sublime work like “IX”.

Will this project continue on this road already paved by “IX”? I certainly hope so. If there is one thing we can expect from this artists, is that we can certainly expect anything and even more.