Band: Paradise Lost
Release Date: 1st September, 2017
Label: Nuclear Blast
Review by John
With a career spanning almost 30 years and 14 albums, it’s fair to say that, in my opinion, Paradise Lost are a band who have had a mixed output. While there is no denying the sheer quality of their earlier, most miserable works, I never could quite get along with themore electronic, synth heavy sound that they moved towards.
Then, in 2015, the band released ‘The Plague Within’, a solid effort that showed flourishes of what had made their earlier releases so appealing.
With their 15th offering, ‘Medusa’ the band have come almost full circle. And if it wasn’t for the fact that they have headed back to almost full on doom laden misery, it would be enough to warm the cockles of the heart.
Right from the very first moments of ‘Fearless Sky’, ‘Medusa’ sets out its stall to great effect. Mournful, thoughtful and plodding, as Nick Holmes rueful growl blends seamlessly with the melancholy music, you are reminded over the course of just under 9 minutes of exactly what was so special about Paradise Lost in those early days. Throw in some eerie clean vocals to add a touch of the Gothic, and things are off to a good start.
The foreboding atmosphere continues across the album. If you’re after something anthemic and uplifting, music to make you feel good about yourself, then you really need to be looking elsewhere. But if you have a penchant for abject despair, then look no further.
‘No Passage For The Dead’ is a slow, sludgy affair, with some hellishly good guitar work, while title track ‘Medusa’ is a sprawling, atmospheric epic. With Holmes’ clean singing employed to excellent effect, it draws the listener in, taking them on an emotional journey into the depths of their soul, and providing one of the high points of the band’s career.
Another stand out is the multi layered ‘The Longest Winter’, a reflective, almost ballad like track, which, with its sense of inescapable bleakness, moves the listener in a way that such a downright miserable sound shouldn’t be capable of.
The only weak point on the album would be ‘Blood & Chaos’, a strangely upbeat number which is ill fitting in the context of the album as a whole. It’s not that it’s a poor track (although it is undeniably the weakest song on here). It just feels completely out of place and, with a vocal style not a million miles away from that of the late Pete Steele, it needlessly breaks the flow of the album. Luckily this is not a fatal blow, as things soon get back on track with the joyously morose ‘Until The Grave’.
‘Medusa’ is by no means an easy listen, but it is definitely a grower in every sense of the word. It took me a few listens before I started to appreciate just how good it is, but it is an album well worth persevering with.
While I enjoyed ‘The Plague Within’, I never saw it as the return to form that many heralded it as. ‘Medusa’, however, is very much that. Featuring so many of the elements that defined their earlier sound, but adding in a few new flourishes, Paradise Lost have reinvigorated their sound, and, after so many years off my radar, are almost sounding essential again.
A triumphant reinvention.
1. Fearless Sky
2. Gods Of Ancient
3. From The Gallows
4. The Longest Winter
6. No Passage For The Dead
7. Blood and Chaos
8. Until The Grave
Visit the band on Facebook: www.facebook.com/paradiselostofficial