Now, if you thought that the veteran gothic/doom metalers had gone back to basics with 2015’s ‘The Plague Within’, wait until you hear this gnarly little fucker.
Almost completely devoid of PL’s more grandiose leanings, ‘Medusa’ is certainly their heaviest album to date, but as always the tracks are typified by Greg Mackintosh’s emotive and mournful lead guitar lines, signalling not a band trying to recapture an earlier time, but one that is retaining and reinstating their very essence.
The crust element of Greg’s Vallenfyre project is very much in evidence here, as is the harsher vocal approach that Nick Holmes fully embraced again while fronting Bloodbath. But as can be expected, this is still very much a Paradise Lost record, with a clear sense of purpose within its sludgy torment.
8 tracks is all we get, 8 great tracks.
The long and Sabbath-y ode to the futility of material wealth, ‘Fearless Sky’, the ‘Gothic’-era sounding ‘Gods Of Ancient’, and the galloping chug of ‘From The Gallows’ kicks things off in awesome style.
The Type O Negative vibe and ecological woes of ‘The Longest Winter’, and the piano led title track can certainly take their place alongside some of the very best songs that PL have ever written. Nick’s clean vocals really shine here, giving the performance the kind of gravitas that made ‘Host’ so rewarding.
‘No Passage For The Dead’ broods intently, while ‘Blood And Chaos’ is a gloriously riffed-up rocker, leaving ‘Until The Grave’ to seal the deal in a lead-lined tomb of despair at man’s meaningless faith and brutality.
The production by Jaime Gomez Arellano is suitably raw and in-your-face throughout, and perfectly captures the intensity of the material.
New drummer Waltteri Vayrynen impresses greatly, and Aaron Aedy and Steve Edmondson’s fuzzed-up backing is wonderfully filthy, while Paradise Lost’s knack of writing quality songs remains undiminished.
A fair few people may find themselves not fully appreciating the work that PL are doing at the moment, but for the rest of us, ‘Medusa’ is the most essential metal album of the year.
(10/10 Stuart Carroll)