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Paradise Lost - Medusa (2017) - Review

Band: Paradise Lost
Album title: Medusa
Release date: 1 September 2017
Label: Nuclear Blast Records

01. Fearless Sky
02. Gods Of Ancient
03. From The Gallows
04. The Longest Winter
05. Medusa
06. No Passage For The Dead
07. Blood And Chaos
08. Until The Grave
09. Frozen Illusion [Bonus]
10. Shrines [Bonus]
11. Symbolic Virtue [Bonus]

It was back in 1988 when the metal cult was born in Halifax (UK), its name is Paradise Lost. The band which wrote a history of dark, doom, gothic and death metal, plus exploring on the way new grounds of gothic electronic music, is now back with their album number 15 named Medusa. This new release also marks their first collaboration with maybe the biggest metal label out there, Nuclear Blast Records. Paradise Lost showed in their career many faces, but most of us will always remember this band by setting the foundations to what is now called gothic metal with monumental albums such were Icon, Draconian Times and One Second, as well doom, death and dark metal maybe wouldn't be as it's today without albums like are Gothic and Shades Of God. Paradise Lost since they were trying to experiment a bit on their seminal experimental album One Second and even more on the peculiar Host, faced approval on one side and disapproval on the other side of metal fans, no matter what they did. There was always a call from the extreme metal side of fans who wanted the band to return to their origins and since their in 2007 released album In Requiem they slowly got what they wanted. But the things are not that simple and Paradise Lost who with before mentioned In Requiem, then with fantastic Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us (2009) and with absolutely great album Tragic Idol (2012), were approching with their compositions more to their monumental sound which was achived with albums like Icon and Draconian Times, have stepped back already with their previous album The Plague Within (2015), somehow returning to their roots in doom/death metal.

I can understand that old love never dies, but aren't the two main creative figures of Paradise Lost, Gregor Mackintosh and Nick Holmes already feeding up their egos with these sonorities in their side projects/bands, Vallenfyre and Bloodbath. Ok, maybe I'm a bit selfish here, but Paradise Lost are a band that is on my list of top five bands since they released their Gothic album in 1991, and what I most admired, their unique ability to create something new and groundbreaking is vanishing with their last two albums. Still, Paradise Lost with Medusa don't really disappoint, contrary, they released an exelent doom/death metal album, maybe one of the best examples of this particular genre, but somehow there will always be present a feeling that this band can do much more. Medusa will of course satisfy fans of their first three albums, especially of their debut album and those who liked Shades Of God, a bit less the fans of their Gothic album and absolutely not those who liked their more gothic metal oriented years. But Medusa is not just a simple return to the roots for Paradise Lost, there are many interesting new elements added, like for example some obtrusive crust, which was already present on The Plague Within.

Medusa is not an easy listen, it's not an album that will be grasped on a first spin, it grows slowly on the listener, and the same happened to me. After the innitial disapointment I started to appreciate this whimsical album as it offers quite a lot. Medusa is a very dark album, maybe the darkest and heaviest one that Paradise Lost ever did, in a way is nihilistic, exploring dark philosophical themes and bringing forth kind of a depressive aura, something alike that they already reached with "Beneath Broken Earth" on the previous album. While the sound is mainly based on doom/death metal, you'll still find in there some gothic and enthusing atmospheric metal passages, like for example in the fantastic album title track, then a bit of it in the mesmerizing slowly evolving almost epic opener "Fearless Sky", a track which offers some delightful crushing doom metal, as well in maybe the best one here, the atmospheric doom masterpiece "The Longest Winter", also in devastating groover "Blood And Chaos", and then there is a not to be missed bonus "Symbolic Virtue", a pure gothic/doom offering which sounds like being taken out of Tragic Idol and connects Medusa with what Paradise Lost were all about - icons of gothic/doom metal.

Most of all Paradise Lost on Medusa offer crushing, tumultuous and quite dynamic sound that is best present in before mentioned four tracks, but unfortunately I found tracks like is "Gods Of Ancient", "From The Gallows" or "Until The Grave" a bit forced out, not bad in any sense, but just not worth more than two or three listens if compared to the rest. Nevertheless, throughout the album the guitar job is just fantastic, that's a trademark thing with Paradise Lost, as well is the strong rhythmic line, with new addition to the band, the 22-year-old Finn Waltteri Väyrynen, who replaced Adrian Erlandsson behind the drum kit. Nick Holmes voice, especially his growls are not as deep and soul shaking as it used to be in their former years, but when he sings with clean voice he still sounds great and I can only wonder why he's trying at all costs to mostly sing in a rather flat growling way. But ok, that's up to the band. I can't also really understand why, beside before mentioned "Symbolic Virtue", the mesmerizing bonus track "Shrines" is not a regular track on this album, it's one of the albums highlights, but only if you'll be lucky enough to get one of the editions with three bonuses on it.

Still in all its darkness, Medusa is a dynamic album, even if it's less varied than their previous one, it's more murky and atmospheric, sometimes also catchy, bringing forth a strong devastating melancholy implemented in peculiar organic yet cold sound. It's a sound of metallic darkness that explores some of the most sombre themes that this band ever put on the table, like that humanity is only seldom worth living on this planet, best showed on the final track "Until The Grave". Medusa shines because of its absolutely great powerful production which adds additional depth, done by producer Jaime Gomez Arellano, who worked before with the band also on The Plague Within, but as well with acts like Primordial, Ghost, Ulver, Fen and Cathedral to name a few. All in all, Medusa seems to be clearly showing that Paradise Lost want to follow the path that they've (re)started on The Plague Within, and it's an album that shouldn't be missed by any metal fan out there, even though that you might not like their taken direction. Paradise Lost' quality, technical and compositional creativity is not be discussed and this album shows to all those thousands of new bands playing doom metal, which are emerging every single day, how masters do it.

Review by: T.V.
Rating: 8/10


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