British doom metal veterans Paradise Lost released their 14th album, The Plague Within, on 1 June 2015 and in its first week reached #3 in the UK rock charts, #4 in the Finnish album charts, #7 in the German album charts, and #15 in the US Heatseekers charts among others.
No Hope In Sight opens the album in good ol’ Paradise Lost manner with a sluggish beat and recurring guitar melody. As always, Nick Holmes’ does a great job at switching from throaty to singing vocals, which makes a fan of old-school Paradise Lost music, like me, feel instantaneously at home.
Terminal, is characterised by double-bass drumming and 16th-note high-note shredding and throaty vocals. Nonetheless, the more laid-back riff-guitar gives an interesting touch to the song. A very heavy track.
An Eternity of Lies starts with a melodramatic piano and violin intro to introduce the typical lethargic Paradise Lost doom mood. Nick’s singing voice fits perfectly. The backing vocals entering at about 1:40 bring a beautiful glimpse of light into the rather dark song. Great arrangements.
Punishment Through Time begins with a break beat and a Black Sabbath-esque guitar riff, rather slow, to develop into an up-tempo heavy-doom-rock song. Definitely looking forward to hearing this one live!
Beneath Broken Earth is up until now the song that fits the term and genre death-doom the best. The extreme lethargic beat and mood, as well as the harmonised guitar melodies by Greg Mackintosh and Aaron Aedy make track 5 one of my favourites of the album.
The introduction to Sacrifice The Flame comes with violins that stay on throughout the song. Steve Edmondson accompanies the intro with a very nice recurring bass line. The song continues with the laid-back atmosphere from the previous songs. Atmospherical, doomy and gothic – beautiful.
Harmonised guitar melodies and melodic vocals kick off Victim Of The Past, and after three slow songs we get served a heavier and more brachial piece. Very refreshing! Especially love the drum-work of Adrian Erlandsson on this one.
Flesh From Bone starts with a 1-minute melodramatic intro to then swap completely into fast-paced death-doom mode with throaty vocals. The song finds its way back to a more sluggish mood in the middle of the song, before swapping back again into a brachial fast-paced beat.
The shuffled beat on Cry Out brings a very refreshing change before to the album ends. My favourite part of the song must be the melodic up-tempo part starting with the guitar interlude in the middle of the song. Beautiful dramatic melodies and a great gothic rock song.
The closing song of The Plague Within gets introduced by an orchestra and a chanting choir. Return To The Sun can be considered a reprise from the opener, No Hope In Sight, given its laid-back beat, diverse vocals, and melodic guitars. A fabulous gothic metal song that reviews everything that happened throughout the album. Very good ending for the album.
I haven’t followed Paradise Lost’s career in recent years, but listening to The Plague Within brought back all those memories since Shades Of God and so on. The band has definitely improved their production and songwriting ever since nonetheless stayed true to their roots, even though I cannot compare this album to more recent releases. The only weak spot I can point out here, is the lyrics. Not elaborate enough for me – or maybe too cliché. I feel this genre gives a lot of room to play with different words, interpretations, and metaphors. Too bad the band didn’t take advantage of that with their great music.
The production and recording is great and so is the mix. Also, The Plague Within follows a clear musical concept, which makes sitting through the 50-minute album like listening to a theatrical play. Very good.
I have enjoyed this 10-track delight and can recommend it not only to the doom or gothic metal fans out there, but to everyone who likes a good melodramatic hard n’ heavy album.
Total grade 7.75/10