Paradise Lost – “Medusa” (Nuclear Blast)
As legendary as the Yorkshire moors themselves, Paradise Lost have long been regarded as one of the 80s pioneers of today’s doom death and gothic metal styles. Releasing groundbreaking albums such as “Shades Of God” and “Icon” through the 90s, the bands style of melancholia mixed with brutality and dark poetic bliss (indeed their name is derived from John Milton’s own dark prose) would take a generation into a depressing yet somehow equally elating realm that few of us would forget. Despite predictable commercial success and the band branching out into other styles, both band and fans knew a return to their traditional sound would be inevitable. Coming off the heaviest track from 2015’s “The Plague Within”, this 15th album does indeed see a return to the early sound of doom laden northern misery along with vocalist Nick Holmes going back to his death growls, but equally they have taken the best of the other elements they’ve learned along the way like new wave goth and clean vocals to put in 8 tracks with even more sophistication using today’s sound production. Opener ‘Fearless Sky’ could’ve been straight from “Shades Of God”, led by the slow, grim guitars of Gregor Mackintosh and Aaron Aedy wailing in the beauty of their sadness – classic! ”Gods of Ancient’ continues but picks up the beat mid way to become more epic mixed with doom death in a very interesting hybrid of styles with Waltteri Väyrynen’s dull thudding drums almost evoking some pagan ritual while ‘From The Gallows’ mixes the tempos of an upbeat rhythm with that of the slower, depressive guitars at times – excellent. Heading straight into the heaviest track of ‘The Longest Winter’ the guitar tone is almost at dirty Swe-deth levels although still shedding plenty of serpentine solos as Holmes suavely alternates between roars and soulful clean singing effortlessly, while the title track is a more polished version of this, with heavy reverb drenched guitars contrasted by wondrous melodies as are the vocals where soulful harmonies blend with deathly screams. Almost descending into Danzig territory on ‘No Passage For The Dead’ with its evil, twisting guitar melodies, rock n roll solos and ultra heavy rhythm, while on ‘Blood and Chaos’ they crank up the goth to the max complete with Dracula baritones and a catchy dance beat before ending in the “Icon” era doom death of ‘Until The Grave’. A truly superb album that sees Paradise Lost return to what they do best – I dare you to not look this one in the eye!