Paradise Lost
The Plague Within


3.8
excellent

Review

by Voivod STAFF
June 6th, 2015 | 302 replies


Release Date: 06/01/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The veterans of doom and gloom are resisting decay with style.

When nearly all is said and done by the elder generations of artists, it becomes a bit more difficult for both them and their biological/mental offsprings to conceive and materialize truly different and equally important, future projects. As far as gothic/death/doom metal goes, Paradise Lost have been on both sides of the fence. In the early ‘90s, they developed and deployed their trademark sound in times where the said combination of genres was still poorly documented. However, since their full return in 2005, the English (by four fifths, that is) outfit is constantly called to prove its proficiency in a time where the margins for innovation are constantly being narrowed, and circling “back to the roots” is the safe solution. Paradise Lost do not see themselves operating in such a way. In setting the character for their 14th album The Plague Within, the band gathered together and the first –many– hours of silence gave way to a handful of direction setters that in first sight, lay within recently realized works, both in and out of the premises.

To the cynic that will come in session with the new album, the true belief (sic) that the band is going through the motions, endures even at the point where each song has been fully absorbed and appreciated. While Paradise Lost haven’t given up their bag of old tricks, the said handful of directions differentiates the new songs in a satisfactory manor. Sites of old school and “stoner/doom” metal groove (“Cry Out”, “Punishment Through Time”) that surfaced during the releases of the previous album and Tragic Illusion 25 respectively, are readily evident. These sites are cleverly alloyed to an atmosphere of gloom that branches out to funeral doom (“Beneath Broken Earth”), to gothic metal (“No Hope in Sight”, “Cry Out”), and from there to some rather unexpected up-tempo outbursts (“Terminal”, “Flesh from Bone”). In addition, elements from classical music, first introduced on older material during live concerts, grant songs like “Eternity of Lies”, a different colour.

While the rhythm section is fairly elaborate in general, the guitars carry a good portion of early ‘90s death metal vibes, which have mutated almost every other bit of style the band has been responsible for. The lyrics, abstract in design, kill the last light at the end of a dark world (and that’s an understatement), as they are expertly narrated by Holmes’ much discussed and anticipated growls. The latter complement nicely the portfolio of his other singing styles, whereas their reference to the first few Paradise Lost albums is understandable but mostly nominal. Holmes is certainly not growling as fiercely as in the early days, but the tracts of darkness from which highlights like “Beneath Broken Earth” was unearthed, are considered as such, also because of his great work.

As previously mentioned, Paradise Lost do not refrain from revisiting their legacy, and this time around, that sort of detracts some points of merit. Despite the great replay value overall, also thanks to the superb sound production (the deep physical pitch of Erlandson’s drums slays!!), some tracks may not sound as impressive as others. In addition, while the album is diverse in terms of arrangements (“Cry Out”, “Flesh from Bone”), the overall flow feels discontinuous, even though it seems to enhance the sense of isolation and melancholy that Paradise Lost have always strived for. As for the elements of classical music, they certainly add points wherever they have been implemented, but the result pales in comparison to more accomplished efforts in that respect. While the marriage of classical music and metal certainly brings forth the intrigue, it does not come without caveats, namely the mutual cancellation of the spite of both genres; in that light, it’s not surprising that for “An Eternity of Lies”, the band had a really tough time selecting the “right” take out of 15 alternate versions.

In conclusion, fan opinions and tastes regarding the pros and cons of an album, are nothing but highly subjective. However, it should be stressed that with the The Plague Within album, the veterans of doom and gloom are resisting decay with style, not falling off the high standards they have set over the years.



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user ratings (382)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
Ben Kuettel STAFF (4.5)
Paradise Lost release their most impactful and ambitious album in nearly two decades....

manosg STAFF (4)
Not so adventurous but highly consistent, The Plague Within might be Paradise Lost’s most mature e...

PsychicChris (4)
A refreshing listen for those who think the band may have gotten too comfortable lately....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Voivod
Staff Reviewer
June 6th 2015


7490 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

As always, constructive criticism is more than welcome.

Digging: Decapitated - Anticult

EvoHavok
June 6th 2015


6961 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Nice to have a staff review as well. Great job, I like the elaborate sentences.

Digging: Sukekiyo - ADORATIO

DrJohn
June 6th 2015


1041 Comments


A thorough write-up mate (mind pos) I'm gonna give this a spin for sure... prolly today.

Gameofmetal
Staff Reviewer
June 6th 2015


10028 Comments


"lied within recently realized works"

did you mean lay*

sick review tho

been meaning to check this band out, I guess Draconian Times is the place to start?

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
June 6th 2015


7490 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

^^fixed, thanks for the heads up.



Draconian Times is a great place to start, but every Paradise Lost album - even their non-metal period - has a merit of its own.

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
June 6th 2015


15754 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

Great review, can't wait to jam this. Just heard Draconian Times for the first time and loved it. Icon is probably their next best.

Digging: Steven Wilson - To the Bone

CK
June 6th 2015


6104 Comments


Release is far overhyped in my eyes

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
June 6th 2015


7490 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

^^I agree, but not too much.



The first few listening sessions hinted at a good album (as in a high 3.5), then the album grew on me a bit more (3.7+), but that was it.



The above said, this album is better than Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us, the weakest of the post-2005 Paradise Lost album.

manosg
Staff Reviewer
June 6th 2015


10391 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great job on the review man.



It's interesting that the songs that for you say that provide diversification are those that I consider weak links because. to my ears, they messed with the consistency of the album.

Digging: Dimmu Borgir - Forces of the Northern Night

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
June 6th 2015


7490 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

^^"Cry Out" is one hell of a jam, even though Paradise Lost are definitely out of their confort zone.



In general, the album has a lot of groove, that's why the recced Cathedral albums came to mind.

Tunaboy45
June 6th 2015


15151 Comments


I really need to start listening to this band, great review by the way.

Digging: Lorde - Melodrama

Acanthus
June 6th 2015


9810 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Never got into these guys before, like the opening track quite a bit though. Album/genre might not be the right fit for me right now but I can see myself really liking this once I'm in the right mindset.



Edit: This is pretty great.

DrJohn
June 6th 2015


1041 Comments


Checked. K it's a good metal release, but to me it's nowhere near Draconian Times (especially in terms of crossover appeal). That being said I'm pretty sure those who dig growls--or pre Icon/Draconian stuff-- will get much more out of this than I did. Granted, the instrumentation and the overall "feel" of the album is there, plus props to Mackintosh who doesn't overcomplicate things for the sake of it; his contributions are appropriate... befitting the "gloom". Unfortunately nothing 'genuinely' thrilled me and there is filler(imho) present on side B--also, some tracks could be a bit shorter. If I had to pick a track it would be the opener and if I had to rate the whole lot, seeing as Draconian Times is a high 4 to me, this would be a 3, tops.

P.S. first two notes of Beneath Broken Earth ~ Black Sabbath s/t : D


^ lol, soundoff


linguist2011
Contributing Reviewer
June 6th 2015


2395 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review Voivod, you've only fed my excited anticipation for this album.

Digging: Vintersorg - Till Fjlls Del II

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
June 6th 2015


7490 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

@DrJohn



I understand where you're coming from, I had exactly the same opinion during the first few listens, but to my moderate astonishment, the album grew in me considerably.



Also, I'm a long-time fan of the band, I dig even the relatively weaker PL albums, plus I think Draconian Times is a 5, so...

DrJohn
June 6th 2015


1041 Comments


"I'm a long-time fan of the band, I dig even the relatively weaker PL albums"

Yea, I got you mate...

As for me, the last PL I purchased was the single "say just words" back in '97. I'm familiar with their discog up to that point, but tbh... I'm kind of the Icon/Draconian type fan, not a die-hard.

" plus I think Draconian Times is a 5, so..."

It's an excellent release with cross over charms, and maybe as regards metal in particular it does warrant a classic status. Cheers!



Willie
Moderator
June 6th 2015


17106 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

This is my album of the year right now. Closely followed by Arcturus.

DrJohn
June 6th 2015


1041 Comments


I'll prolly check Arcturus... La masquerade was great

Todd1K
June 6th 2015


15 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Great Album!

Acanthus
June 7th 2015


9810 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Really like their vocal style, it reminds me of some other group but I can't pin down who exactly.



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