Paradise Lost - The Plague Within
Released 01/06/2015

Paradise Lost

One of the big three British doom bands who made their mark in the early 90's Paradise Lost started off slow and heavy, turned a bit weird and electronic in the late 90's/early noughties and came full circle with 2009's Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us. However far they travelled musically they never really forgot their gothic roots and you could always rely on them for a thoroughly miserable time!

When news filtered through that Nick Holmes wonderful old school death-roar was back for the first time in aeons was enough to set pulses racing amongst long time fans and the album doesn't disappoint. Opening with a wonderfully chugging riff and thunderous bass, No Hope In Sight sees the band set their stall out straight away. Nick Holmes singing veers from skeletal croak to harmonious honey. The band propel the song forward and a gorgeous lead guitar frequently surfaces from the tumult of sound.

The album continues with the punishing, fast paced Terminal, driven onwards by a huge wall of drums Nick's vocals are buried deep in the mix but not so deep that you can't hear him. It ends up being a perfect aural balancing act. The song races breathlessly towards a sudden conclusion, giving way to the piano and strings that herald An Eternity Of Lies. Slower and crushingly heavy the song mixes things up a bit. Nick's glorious vocals are backed up by wonderful harmonies and the piano is as often the lead instrument as the guitar. This song also provides us with the first real guitar solo of the album which pulls at the gut and wrenches the emotions.

Despite its old school stylings The Plague Within is actually a fairly typical Paradise Lost album, although this is no bad thing. The band have been going long enough to have honed their sound to a razor sharp tool. They are experienced enough to take their time and add creative twists and turns to their songs which makes each album a treat to be savoured. They are also clever enough not to repeat themselves, making each album a unique gift of agony and woe. Whether it's the funereal Broken Beneath Earth or the breakneck Cry Out each song on this album sound not so much written as lovingly crafted, each with its own distinct character. The violins and cellos return for the achingly slow, sombre dirge that is Sacrifice The Flame, Nick Holme's vocals returning to a deathly croak and dual guitar harmonies making Paradise Lost sound like the Thin Lizzy of doom!

It has to be said that the entire band excel themselves on this album. I said before that this was a typical Paradise Lost album but The Plague Within is right up there with the band's best releases. The playing is superb; guitarists Greg Mackintosh and Aaron Aedy creating an endless supply of twisted riffs. The rhythm section of Steve Edmondson on bass and drummer Adrian Erlandsson lay down a foundation so solid you could build houses on it and there's just the right enhancement with keyboards and strings. As ever Nick's vocal are superb. From death rattle and furious roar to melodious intonations his range is amazing.

The album descends towards its denoument with the off kilter, sinister Flesh From Bone which starts slowly and accelerates suddenly into furious black metal blastbeat territory. The song slows for what could loosly be called the chorus and a superb solo before careering off the cliff again. The song ends with a sinister choir adding weight to Nick's rasp. The aforementioned Cry Out is fast but more tuneful than its predecessor. A squall of feedback leads us to the final song Return To The Sun, introduced with choirs and brass instruments before a stuttering riff and sublime lead kick in and the band end the album in fine style, just as they began it. A mid-paced epic Nick's vocals are again fighting their way through the mix, doing battle with the harmonising guitars and colossal leads.

Jaime Gomez Arellano has done a superb job with the album's production managing, at times, a huge wall of sound and at others a delicate, fragile intonation. He obviously understands the band and knows just what each song requires to make it perfect. Mention should also be made of the superb cover art... reproduction at such a small size as a cd cover doesn't really do the intricate drawing justice but it fits the mood of the album perfectly. It would be unfair to the band to call this album a return to form as their last few albums have been of a uniformly high standard but for a band so far into their career as Paradise Lost to be releasing music of such high quality is a real treat for us fans. The Plague Within is a high point for a band who have already had so many throughout their career. Long may their particular brand of misery continue.

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