British band Paradise Lost, is considered by many (myself included) the Godfathers of gothic-doom metal. With almost 30 years of hard work and a back catalog spanning 15 records each one encompassing different music paths without ever losing their beat, their music has contributed immensely to raise the sub-genre to a new level. The band made their debut on 1990 with “Lost Paradise” and they have redefined their musical spectrum several times ever since, with some albums going towards a less extreme direction, such as “One Second” in 1997, and others focusing on a return to their heavier roots like “The Plague Within” in 2015. Their fourth album “Icon” introduced them to greater audiences with “Draconian Times” following it, receiving several top peak positions throughout Europe. Through time, the band have managed to stay together in good and bad like a perfect couple, with only a few lineup changes in the drummer department, being their last one on 2015 where they replace former drummer Adrain Erlandsson with Waltteri Väyrynen, whose energy and enthusiasm has fitted right with the veteran group.
On September 1st of this year Paradise Lost released their fifteenth studio album called “Medusa” via Nuclear Blast. With it, the five-some from Halifax go back to their earlier doom sound with much fewer gothic elements than in past records. A perfect example is the first track “Fearless Sky”; beginning with minimal organ notes, dull and gloomy riffing by rhythm guitarist Aaron Aedy and a sorrowful melody by lead guitarist Gregor Mackintosh. Nick Holmes’ imposing vocal presence fills the song with tortuously lethargic growls, switching to his trademark-refined clean vocals right in the middle, just to retake the path of the downtrodden by the ending section. “Gods of Ancient” starts by displaying the dynamism of new drummer Waltteri Väyrynen followed with darker but rich roaring courtesy of Holmes. During its second half the punishing riff leads to thrust further into darkness, a consistent pattern of grief and striking disaster, woven with structure and style.
“The Longest Winter” is one of the highlights of the album. A powerful song that not only lightens up the tone a bit, but also creates a lonesome, and grief-stricken tempo that harkens back to the sound of previous albums like “Tragic Idol”. Clean vocals emerge through the harmonies of marching bass, blanketed by contagious melodies wrapped with a melancholic descending organ. As “Medusa” starts with the drum fills of Väyrynen entwined with Mackintosh’s distressing and powerful guitar tone and Edmondson’s sturdy backbone bass we are back into the land of oppression and wretchedness, but some majestic clean signing in the vein of “Draconian Times” makes presence, further elevating the sludgy aura with a lighter atmosphere. “No Passage for the Dead” stands its ground in the overall vibe of haunting muck with harsh and reinvigorated vocals, omnipresent match of rhythm and melody by Mackintosh and Aedy and just-enough drumming to give a lugubrious atmosphere. “Blood & Chaos” may be the most allegro track of the record. Holmes does an excellent job shifting from his baritone intonation to intense death growls, and is certainly the catchiest song of the whole record, expanding the gothic style to interlace in some rocking elements to its beat. “Until the Grave”, the eighth and last track of the album, spotlights once anew Holmes’ harsh vocals, enveloping the album ending in a shroud of haze and blackness. In the Japanese edition of the CD or in the Deluxe Mediabook you will find two bonus tracks as worthy to be part of the final track-list of the album as any of the ones mentioned above: “Shrines” and “Symbolic Virtue”, both excellent on their own right and somewhat balancing the impending feelings of gloominess projected by their predecessors, washing away the bewitching air through cleaner melodies paired slothful riffs and church-like organ.
Paradise Lost have managed to put out another powerful record, which might not be their best but clearly shows their sheer penchant to produce morbid, gritty and spine-tingling music. “Medusa” echoes with you even after is over, its melodies keep lingering around and it hooks you more with each subsequent listen, intertwining your ears in its net like a final embrace of the mythical creature’s living venomous snakes.
Released By: Nuclear Blast
Release Date: September 1st, 2017
- Nick Holmes / vocals
- Gregor Mackintosh / lead guitar
- Aaron Aedy / rhythm guitar
- Stephen Edmondson / bass guitar
- Waltteri Väyrynen / drums
- Fearless Sky
- Gods of Ancient
- From the Gallows
- The Longest Winter
- No Passage for the Dead
- Blood and Chaos
- Until the Grave
- Shrines (Bonus Track)
- Symbolic Virtue (Bonus Track)