Review Summary: Still going strong but where do Paradise Lost go from here?
Paradise Lost is one of those rare/brave cases of a band that defined and redefined their music, themselves, a whole generation of musicians and probably an entire decade. In an era where grunge was (for a good reason) a refuge and a voice for an entire generation of youth, their doom and gloom appeared to those who weren’t willing to go down the checkered-shirt road. Icon
introduced them to a larger audience and Draconian Times
was the younger emo sibling of The Black Album
. And like every good younger sibling, it admired so much its brother that went out and got a haircut, declared its love for Depeche Mode and in the process alienated a large number of fans while influencing (again) its contemporaries. Just listen how acts like Theatre of Tragedy, The Gathering, Tiamat, and Amorphis, among others, evolved their sound after the release of Load
and One Second
. This is not to say that the aforementioned albums were directly influenced by Metallica and Paradise Lost but when you come to think of how Load
and One Second
impacted the music industry, you start to understand their respective weight.
Now you may wonder how all the above ties up with Paradise Lost’s present but if history has taught us anything, is that it somehow repeats itself. Therefore, if Icon
and One Second
were both – besides groundbreaking albums – shifts in sound, I expect Medusa
to be one too because it certainly feels like the most significant of The Peaceville Three have finally come full circle (unless they pull a new Lost Paradise
on us, in which instance prepare to re-read the above rant in a few years).
death/doom roots can be traced back to Gothic
and Shades of God
and if we want to compare it to something more modern, it would be “Beneath Broken Earth” from The Plague Within
. Overall though, the British outfit’s latest offering is heavier, darker, more depressive and more guitar-centered than their 2015 release. However, the LP is not a complete throwback as there are tracks which nod to their Draconian Times/Icon
-era such as the uptempo “Blood and Chaos” or “The Longest Winter” which again differentiates itself slightly from the album’s formula. Nick Holmes is once more using his death growls with some clean singing mostly towards the end of songs, which is one of the elements that make “Medusa” one of the standout tracks along with the brilliant guitar work and the majestic atmosphere. “Fearless Sky” is not only the longest track in Paradise Lost’s discography but also one of the heavier the band has written and serves as a very promising introduction to the album’s suffocating abyss.
Nevertheless, as solid as Medusa
may be, it lacks something that would add to its replay value and that is memorable songs and more hooks. The Plague Within
was full of them and this is the reason that it was such a successful effort. In addition, succeeding such a solid predecessor is always a hard task. That is not to say that the Halifax outfit’s new LP is weak or dull and those who love their doom/death side are in for a treat, but a slightly increased emphasis on melody and a stronger gothic flavor would certainly help.