With few exceptions, the entire metal world seems to be in agreement that the violent and bloody birth of the genre itself was housed in England. With even fewer exceptions, the history of British metal is easily considered one of the holy tomes to be studied and revered. Amongst the longest running, and most influential bands of the British metal pantheon there stands Paradise Lost, who after over 25 years and 14 albums still remains one of Britain’s most prized metal possessions.
After a quarter century and 14 albums spent dominating your field, as well as experimenting with your sound, only to return to your blackened, worshiped roots, what’s left for a band to prove? The short answer is absolutely nothing. A more inquisitive examination might reveal the need to continue writing albums that simply melt into your brain and get locked in like butter on hot bread. One thing Paradise Lost can certainly not be accused of on their newest opus, The Plague Within, is compromising. This is a band that still writes an album’s worth of material that continually tight ropes across a sonic battlefield where the melancholy and the brutal share in the joint assault on the senses.
It would be overly simplistic, and frankly overtly stated, to rehash the musical history of Paradise Lost in this space. The shifting in styles at various turns of their career has been well-documented and need not be restated here. It would also be an exercise in futility to sit and compare and contrast how this album stands up to their earliest (or even most recent) material. Instead, as with most Paradise Lost albums, it’s best to look at their current offering in how it sails across the current musical landscape. In that regard, Paradise Lost are still a band playing with the house’s money.
It’s hard to tell if it’s the overbearing dreariness or the understated savagery (or both) that make The Plague Within such a memorable album. At each turn it’s as sombre as a frost-kissed rain on a Winter’s morning in the bleakest of cemeteries, and upon others as oppressive as dark visions of the end times. Look no further than the track “Beneath Broken Earth” to find modern day doom metal at its finest, a barrage of thick, dreary riffs so contemplatively aggressive in their delivery. The follow-up track “Sacrifice The Flame” matches its predecessor in heaviness, yet somehow ratchets up the Goth factor with fittingly dour, clean vocals. “Victim Of The Past” meanwhile manages to combine all of the above with a swirl of synths and catchy riffs to give the track a sort of accessible malevolence. Toss in a track like “Flesh From Bone,” which has old-school death metal written all over it and the beast concocted over these ten tracks is one that has been the Paradise Lost trademark for so long.
It would have been easy for Paradise Lost to play it safe. Instead we have been gifted an album that not only allows the band to spread their wings a bit, but one that feeds the good stuff directly into the veins of doom metal junkies across the globe. The Plague Within is out across North America on June 2 via Century Media Records. You can experience the track “Beneath Broken Earth” and the corresponding video over at the Century Media YouTube page.