The pioneers of gothic/doom metal and one of Britain’s biggest chapters in metal history since the 90s, are back carrying their Plague. “The Plague Within” as is their 14th studio release called, just got out and it really sounds bizarre!
First of all, having one lyric video and a video clip for “Beneath Broken Earth” as the album’s teasers, I’ll have to admit I caught myself confused, since the first one didn’t make that much impression on me, while the second really stunt me. Having read all these rumours and press releases about a return to the older days of the band’s sound, I wasn’t sure what to expect and after many listening sessions, I can certainly say some things that seem quite clear from the first sessions and some others more in depth that surface after the first “hit”.
Yes, one could say, that this is a comeback record to their doom metal era of their first three records, leaning closer to the turning point record – “Shades Of God”. Yes, the sound mix and production is quite raw, and the atmosphere is as well quite doomy, since the majority of the songs are actually crawling in tempos and ideas, with some exceptions , of course.
Yet, I think I have to step up and deny any rumours about Nick Holmes’ brutal growls embracing the songs. Yes, there are more than enough harsh(almost growls) vocals in “The Plague Within”, but that’s where it ends. Did I enjoy this come back? Hell yes, but as a fan I happen to be more realistic towards the truth and not towards enthusiasm or rumours.
The album takes off with “No Hope In Sight” which is a mid tempo song and although I didn’t like it at first, it really sticks to your head after some time, not meaning that I like it better now. Second song is “Terminal” which is one of the few fast songs and it’s quite enjoyable. Next comes mid tempo “An Eternity of Lies” which has some trademark female vocals involved on its refrain and to be quite frank with everyone it reminded me a bit of Moonspell’ s “Scorpion Flower” a bit more complex though, nice song. “Punishment Through Time” or “Pity the Sadness II” sounds good, but the similarities inevitably take it a few steps below the original. Next song “Beneath Broken earth” really stands out, as being the first video of the album, the longest composition and clearly the death/doom metal diamond of the release.
The next song “Sacrifice the Flame” starts off with a string quartet and into the ways of “tragic idol” or “faith divides us…” goes on to an emotional crescendo quite nice. “Victim of the past” is the album’s perfect mixture of all eras and might be the most intense song of the album, with Holmes joggling from harsh vocals to clean ones in circles making it even more interesting. The next one “Flesh From Bone” should have been quite a surprise to the rest PARADISE LOST members, apart from Mackintosh- I think-, because it is the fastest song(maybe the fastest ever by the band) with some black/death metal origins and raw sound we’ve never heard of them! I’m not sure if I liked it or not, but it’s a fact, Paradise Lost have a black/death song on their 14th release. Reaching closer to the end of the release “Cry out” brings the sound of “Icon” more than any other song, since the release of the album back in 1993 and though at first it sounded as a filler, it has something I liked but can’t explain. And the regular release epically closes with “Return to the sun” which starts with a minute of vast choruses and a vast orchestra till the bands steps forward with a mid tempo, equally heavy song, in the familiar sound of Paradise Lost.
I’m not sure what to say to close this review/ article but there’s something that has been going in my mind after the sessions and I’d like to state it as simple as I can. Paradise Lost have been around for like almost 30 years, and have been releasing albums always the way they wanted it. Having many carrier ups and downs, they managed to surface their band and keep it innovative and original throughout their story but to get back to a sound or try to get back to a sound because of audience pressure doesn’t sound that original at all, and this thing messes with my brain.
“The Plague Within” is a death/doom record above average the least! But is there enough Paradise Lost and their entire carrier sounding within it? No, but it’s just a blink of eye into the band’s early years, with some “shocks” from the rest of it and I’m not sure if this is a nice way to say we’re here doing our thing… “The Plague Within” sounds as a forced release and that is not how Paradise Lost have been around some 30 years or so. Enjoy, none the less.
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