Sixteen albums… That amounts to an album released every other year of Paradise Lost’s 32-year career. Granted there are some longer breaks than a year, but that’s because they released 7 in in the 1990s. Not only prolific, but damned good too. Granted there are a couple that I barely listen to, but that may say more about me than their constant striving to push themselves and their musical boundaries. Thankfully, this is one of their albums that I’d happily listen to over and over again, as I’ve been doing the last 2 weeks.
From opener “Darker Thoughts”, with its acoustic guitar and Nick Holmes’s gently melodic voice accompanied by violins until the distortion pedal is depressed and the characteristic death growls take things to a new level, all the while Waltteri Väyrynen keeps the tempo slow and doomy, letting Gregor Mackintosh’s lead wail on to conclude the song.
A far heavier sound is employed on “Fall from Grace”, with Aaron Aedy and Gregor Mackintosh’s guitars complementing each other using the familiar Paradise Lost sound.
Stephen Edmondson’s driving bass on “Ghosts” is joined by the lighter guitars, while Nick uses broody goth vocals that work extremely well for this more mid-paced track.
While opening with slow keyboards and bass before the guitars come in, “The Devil Embraced” gets a hell of a lot heavier when in full swing while maintaining the pace, proving that speed isn’t needed to be heavy.
I can’t help but think of Sisters of Mercy when “Forsaken” starts, but other than just being bass heavy, the song delivers on intricate melodies and screamed out leads that squeal as fingers are run down the fretboard.
The steady snare snaps through the rumbling kick drums and growls as the twin guitars play their riffs and melodies with finesse on “Serenity”, as the song builds towards its final crescendo.
“Ending Days” is beautifully melancholic, with the violins joining the soaring guitars before fading away to leave an exquisite bassline being played with a harmony guitar layered over it and the lead over that.
Any goth band would happily wish “Hope Dies Young” were part of their repertoire as the gloomy vocals are lightened by a female accompaniment while the guitar riffs are both heavy and melodic.
The final track “Ravenghast” opens with a haunting piano piece, which is joined by the guitars and Nick’s slow drawn out doom-death growls, that fit exceptionally well when the double kick is employed to add the required rumble.
And now that I’ve completed the review, I can happily listen to the album once more, as it’s a pleasure to do.
(9/10 Marco Gaminara)