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Saturday, 5 August 2017

Reviews: Paradise Lost (Review By Paul)

Paradise Lost: Medusa (Nuclear Blast)

2015 saw Yorkshire's doom merchants Paradise Lost return to their blackest roots for the monumental The Plague Within. Vocalist Nick Holmes focused on the death growls from way back in the mists of melancholy, whilst Gregor Mackintosh upped the riffometer substantially. It represented a huge shift in direction from a band who have never been afraid of forging new pathways.

Medusa continues along the heavy road, retaining the intensity and power whilst moving even deeper into the darkness. As soon as the crushingly heavy opening chords of Fearless Sky hit the aural senses, you know that this is one cold serving of despair. At over eight minutes long it's impressive. The band, now with drummer Waltteri Vayrynen firmly ensconced on the drum stool, have slowed down to almost sludge proportions. It is miserable and perfect for a band whose Northern misery has always been a huge feature in their music.

Medusa demands repeated plays. There is so much power contained here that there should be a health warning with it. Holmes sounds totally comfortable with the continued vocal change, although I still prefer his clean sound which surfaces from time to time. Gods Of Ancient maintains the sheer velocity, an increase in pace and power but still bone splintering in its power. The cheery From The Gallows follows, MacKintosh and Aaron Adey's combined riffs pulverising before the devastating power chords kicks in. This one will allow the dandruff to fly at Damnation. It's mighty heavy. Mackintosh unleashes razor sharp solos whilst bassist Steve Edmondson combines with the new boy to pounding effect.

The Longest Winter allows Holmes to deliver in more restrained and typical style, but fuck me, it's still heavier than rutting rhinoceroses on a battleship. The pain is intense, the dejection and forlornness crashing over the listener in waves. This will be immense at high volume in front of a roaring log fire on a cold November evening. The title track opens with a piano riff and Edmondson's sinister bass lines, measured at all times with Holmes morphing from clean vocals to death growl with ease. It's eerie, etched with pain and sorrow. The piano riff continues during a temporary haunting interlude but at all times the malevolence broods just below the surface.

There is no let up in the pummelling though, as another massive riff kicks off No Passage For The Dead. Every bit as despondent as the title suggests, this is an enormous gloom soaked offering, and whilst fierce the gothic period from the early career remains ever present. It stalks, watches and then crushes. A right gnarly fucker. The penultimate song is also the shortest track on the album, and it's one of the best. A typical Paradise Lost thumper, pacy and jumping, with Holmes moving into his early Wayne Hussey style between the continued growls, this is Blood And Chaos, an absolute beast of a tune. Album closer Until The Grave veers not one jot from the doom laden course. Death growls, colossal riffs and spine breaking rhythms hammer in the final nails.

If you can still stand after this, the bonus edition holds an extra three gems including Symbolic Virtue which has shades of the Faith Divides Us era but with an extra serving of heavy. In Medusa, Halifax's most miserable sons have shown that they remain one of the most essential UK bands of the last 20 years. Full of life despite their misery, this release is simply brilliant. Damnation Festival will be something special. Roll on November. 10/10

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