9 July 2015

Paradise Lost - The Plague Within

These guys should be held as legends in all circles - not just within the circles of doom metal/ traditional metal.  Since 1988 and out of Halifax, West Yorkshire, Paradise Lost have torn a trail for British metal, they have toured the globe and they have influences many artists such as Katatonia and alongside My Dying Bride and Anathema, they are one of the premier doom/gothic metal bands in the world (although Anathema are more Prog these days).  But for some people, they are still the band who wished they were Depeche Mode for one album - an album which is just under twenty years old! I mean, it was a brave move and they have returned to a more metal sound since; but I still think 'One Second' is a good record and one that will be looked upon more fondly in years to come.  But that is not why we are here, it is not a look at that period of their existence - this is the time to look at their fourteenth album called 'The Plague Within'.  It has been three years since their last album 'The Tragic Idol' and it has also been a success around the world; it was produced by Jaimie Gomez Arellano in London and the band have stated that it is going to incorporate elements from all of their previous album.  Well, let’s see what it is all about then......

Opening track "No Hope in Sight" starts this album off perfectly, sounding like the Gods of war are being released onto the world and wanton destruction is the name of the game.  It sounds like the end has begun and the world is basically fuck from the outset; this is what I want from Paradise Lost, I want to be able to lose myself in a sea of misery which has riffs that sound like they have been mined from the earth, drums which sound like thunder and for the vocals of Nick Holmes to make me shiver slightly - this is the strongest opening from these men in years and it is very promising for the album.  "Terminal" keeps up the happy cheery vibe once more, did I say happy & cheery?  I mean it brings more misery to proceedings and it sounds glorious, full of hate and venom with a musical back drop that matches the lyrical tapestry of despair.  With a slightly faster pace, it drives the record forward on a current of doom metal that really should not being making me so cheerful, there is something really perverse about that....  The third track is "An Eternity of Lies" which starts with some beautiful strings and a piano causing a brief glimpse of hope, but we all know it will not last and sure enough the band bring the doom back to the forefront of the song.  But this song does have a feeling that it would be perfect for a full orchestra to amplify some of its sounds; it has a grand theme about it and takes a few more listens to register with the listener.  I like the fact that this is an obvious candidate for being a grower as it would not be a Paradise Lost album without a track like this, it has a quality that grows with repeated listens and take a while to settle and that is fine by me.

Following on from that opening trio is "Punishment through Time" which brings some speed to proceedings, the riff feels like it is from the 'Icon' or 'Draconian Times' era and it is more metal than doom here from the outset.  I really enjoyed the trash element to the song, be it intentional or not - it has a beautiful solo in the middle which really towers over the song, one of the best numbers on the record.  To counter this, we are treated to "Beneath Broken Earth" which sounds like a funeral parade, it has the pace of the mourners heading to stand at grave side and the sound coming as the song rumbles on is that which does not care if the world is coming down around them.  This riff is a monster here, a truly towering doom riff to take things down a much darker path than a band this far into their career would sometimes tread - I like this nod towards the past here, it is not done as an obvious track to keep the old school fans happy; it feels like a genuine number that the band are proud to put out there and it works very effectively and much like "An Eternity of Lies" it has grower written all over it, it feels like a track I will be returning to long after this review is published.  The string return once more for "Sacrifice the Flame", which turns the album around again with its darker and gothic sound.  This track aims for epic and achieves it in a style which will taint the soul slightly, but by pagan deity it is worth it; the macabre feeling of the song is twisted and evil, exactly what I want from a Paradise Lost song in other words.

We are then introduced to the seventh track of the album called "Victim of the Past" whose opening lines are 'Lost faith in others' and the story of lost trust is just descends further into misery once more, seriously at this point it should not need to be pointed out that this is not a happy album and this song drives that point home.  The apathetic outlook from the outset which is given more power by the guitars of Messrs Aedy and Mackintosh, the blistering drumming of veteran Adrian Erlandsson and the subtle, but no less dangerous rumbling sounds that Mr Edmondson brings to life from his bass make this track another gem in an already overburdened chest of jewels.  "Flesh From Bone" starts off as if it is going to be another slow and gothic number, another majestic titan to wonder over the soul and chill the bones to the core; but this is not the case as the band goes into full metal mood for the first verse with a fast and furious number to quicken the pace of the record, then it is back to the dark and brooding chorus that sends shivers down your spine and the riffs sound like the heavenly choirs going to war with it demonic brethren from below - the only complaint is that it ends too soon and I want more, seriously the best track on the album for me.  The penultimate track is called "Cry Out" and the opening riff sounds almost jolly for this album if the truth be told, but Mr Holmes is having none of that nonsense and pour scorn and injects a dose venom in the song.  The music is good and we have another grower here as it is not immediate in its charms, it will keep on revealing more and after subsequent listens it does just that.  With the sound of horns, we are introduced to "Return to the Sun" which pulls everything together for this album for me.  It has the drama, the riffs to level weaker mortals and a sound to bring horror and delight to the masses.  As ending tracks go, it does the job to perfection and brings a rotten veil onto this album.

Misery has no right to sound so good, it is not fair on happiness and joy for it to sound this good; it is one of their best releases for me and up there with the classic era albums of 'Icon' and 'Draconian Times' for me, I would even say that it is better than 'Gothic' and 'Shades of God' for me.  The band have hit a great vein of quality on this album and with a few tracks that give more with each listen, it is all you could want from a new Paradise Lost release.  Now the wheel is not necessarily reinvented here, but why should that matter to be honest; it is a might release and will be welcomed by fans of all periods of Paradise Lost - time to get infected!

9 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost.....

Top track - Flesh from Bone

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the Paradise Lost website here

You can also follow their activities on Facebook here

You can stream the album on Spotify here

You can stream the album on Deezer here

You can stream the album on Tidal here

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