The town of Halifax, in West Yorkshire, spawned one of Britain’s best known and most influential gothic / doom metal bands way back in 1988 with the formation of Paradise Lost.
Perhaps unusually the band have, drummer aside, managed to keep their initial line-up together for the past twenty seven years, which is something of an achievement on itself.
That original line-up consisted of singer Nick Holmes, lead guitarist / keyboardist Greg Mackintosh, rhythm guitarist Aaron Aedy, bassist Steve Edmondson and drummer Matthew Archer.
Debut album “Lost Paradise” surfaced on the Peaceville label in 1990 and featured a more death metal vibe than would be the case as the band’s career and sound developed and evolved. Indeed throughout the subsequent album releases, until 2007’s “In Requiem” album, elements of electronica, synthpop and industrial metal would also be found until the band’s direction focussed on gothic / doom metal.
Drummer Adrian Erlandsson, formerly of Cradle Of Filth, and still involved in a variety of projects, joined the band in 2009. Since then both that year’s “Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us” and 2012’s follow-up “Tragic Idol” have been artistically strong and well received works.
Now, in June 2015, comes the band’s fourteenth studio album “The Plague Within”, probably the band’s heaviest record in some time, and quite possibly their heaviest ever.
Holmes covers a lot of ground vocally, with clean melodic lines to be heard as well as a harsher delivery more readily associated with death metal – the latter perhaps inspired by Holmes being appointed to the line-up of Swedish death metal band Bloodbath as replacement for Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt. The variation is determined by the mood of each track, and it’s this helps the album’s sense of expansiveness and keeps the interest of the listener, at least in my case.
The guitar riffs are crushing in place, sometimes doomy (see the Cathedral-like “Beneath Broken Earth”) and sometimes up-tempo, whilst there are liberal sprinklings of harmony guitar too. Both guitarists are on top form throughout.
There are also orchestral embellishments to this record, which work well and are something I would have liked to have heard more of, to be honest. Nonetheless, this is an excellent album of its type – cold, morose and doomy yet also gothic and melancholic.
The album’s highlights, for me, are “Punishment Through Time”, “Flesh From Bone”, “Victim Of The Past” and the essential closing track “Return To The Sun”. Excellent stuff…
1. No Hope In Sight / 2. Terminal / 3. An Eternity Of Lies / 4. Punishment Through Time / 5. Beneath Broken Earth / 6. Sacrifice The Flame / 7. Victim Of The Past / 8. Flesh From Bone / 9. Cry Out / 10. Return To The Sun