I can remember the release for Paradise Lost's "Draconian Times"
so vividly, as if it happened just yesterday instead of a long eighteen years ago. The
hype this thing had going in was just amazing to me, so many online articles and paper
zines were firmly establishing the English band as not only a successor to the throne but
as the kings themselves based on the merit of "Icon" in 1993.
I can recall reading about the album for the first time at a local bookstore in 1994. At the age of seventeen I couldn't afford to buy the magazine but I spent a good twenty minutes reading and re-reading the same article that championed Paradise Lost as the next big thing and an obvious successor to the Metallica throne. The critics were harping that Metallica's comeback in "Load" was a pale comparison of the former Bay Area giants and that "Draconian Times" would be the "black album" that Metallica failed to make. Keep in mind that this sort of talk often involved some new band and their release as the album that Metallica refused to make (Dearly Beheaded and Sentenced were both groomed to be huge players and it never came to fruition).
Back in the 90s you could hear 10-20 second snippets of .wav files on various websites and newsgroups and I can remember surfing (and suffering) for days to find some nugget of "Draconian Times" to latch onto. I had no luck and by June of 1995 the record hit Europe courtesy of Music For Nations. Being in the US simply meant you had to import a copy through some poor sap at a record store who had no idea that this circular piece of plastic was the only reason to rise and exist each day. I ordered mine in July through a mom and pop called "The Record Exchange" which simply meant you put a $5 deposit down and by some act of kindness of whatever random God you prayed to it would arrive in one to six months.
During the ninety day wait for my copy to arrive the press (what little there was domestically) had reported the album had sold a million plus worldwide and "Draconian Times" was indeed everything we had hoped and planned for. It had received positive reviews and captured a 90s band that critics and fans both seemed infatuated with. I had purchased the Metal Maniacs zine that featured the band and I can still remember the spread of the long haired Brits standing in front of a black wrought iron fence and a huge puddle of water reflecting their image. Years later I discovered this was from a promo video they did for "The Last Time". I took the magazine to a factory job and showcased my idols to a few mop-headed metal fans. One guy dismissed it as "never heard of 'em" while another said they couldn't be as good as Slayer. Another "in the know" metal fan agreed with me that this could be the greatest band that has ever stood in front of a wrought iron fence. I continued to play my "Icon" disc and anxiously awaited the day that my "Draconian Times" docked stateside.
It was cold on a late September day and my father and I were working on some home improvement project for a lady about an hour away from home. I remember arriving home around dark and pulling the message off the answering machine..."Hi, it is here. Please come get it so you will leave us alone". "The Record Exchange" was as tickled as me to intercept this rare import. As I was out the door with keys in hand I was already planning the loud trip back home in my truck. Just before I exited the house my father asked if he could ride with me since it was dark and "heavy traffic" in our small town. The idea of jamming London's best kept secret to Americans was quickly evaporated due to the presence of a parent in the car.
Greatest band that has ever stood in front of a wrought iron fence?