Medusa by Paradise LostRelease date: September 1, 2017
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
During their 30 year existence, Paradise Lost have always seemed like the perennial under-dogs, never quite managing to break through into the major league. There have been close brushes with the closest being with their 1995 album Draconian Times, and then rather out of turn for their brand of gothic metal, with follow up One Second, which traded in the riffs for electronic sounds. What they have managed to do though, is build a remarkably solid body of work and continued to amass fans as they moved from their early death-doom sound, through the “classic” gothic metal phase, through experimentation with industrial and electronic sounds, back to a more traditional approach. Medusa, their 15th studio album, marks an embracing of their original doom sound, but built with one eye on the big arenas.
Everything about Medusa is huge. The riffs churn out in colossal time, whilst the ominous rumble of the bass keeps everything submerged at a sludge like level. Vocalist Nick Holmes has never sounded so confident as he weaves his tapestry of stories, this time influenced by the Greek monster of the title, into morals of philosophical mores. Gregor Mackintosh on guitar provides the requisite foil as he plays off each lyric or riff, colouring the songs with a classic metal approach. Take the moment when ‘From The Gallows’ rises from the bleak ‘Gods Of Ancients’ to deliver a master-class in heavy metal guitar, whilst Holmes guttural roar thunders on, beckoning you into the dark heart of the songs.
The diversity in approach which Holmes lends the songs through his vocal styles which range from the aforementioned roar, to a more clean sound lends the songs various shades of dark and darker. Whilst not as “gothic” as they used to be, certain elements remain although if you were to listen back to Icon or Shades Of God now, you would perhaps see much improvement in delivery. Medusa may not quite match the sheer ferocity of those early classics, but it sure makes up for it in a much more even tempered way. The years of experience show hard, and as Medusa progresses, you find that it’s best to just sink into what is happening and allow the music to wash over you rather than seek out those moments of fist-pumping abandon. It works, and sets Paradise Lost out as one of the great metal bands.
Whether it will be enough to thrust them into the major league is doubtful, and in all fairness they are probably more than happy remaining where they are now. With a fan-base who lap up every bit of music and a worldwide touring schedule, Paradise Lost are in a great place at the moment. On the strength of Medusa they are also in a rather fantastic creative place too, and by coming almost full circle to their initial ideas, and having built in all those years of experience in-between, they now have the capacity to provide music which is more than a match for any of their contemporary peers. Devastatingly heavy, beautifully melodic and dark, Paradise Lost have released one of the great metal albums of the year.