Review by Jeff Maki
England’s Paradise lost has run the gamut of metal styles throughout its nearly 30-year career. Beginning in 1998, its early death metal releases, Gothic (1991), Shades of God (1992) and Icon (1993), are considered classics, and 1995’s Draconian Times an international breakthrough. Then there was the strange synth-pop-metal era, only to see the band eventually re-embrace its roots in recent years. Sadly, the band is still largely unknown in the U.S., but with its latest release and 14th album, The Plague Within, now would be a great time for an introduction to Paradise Lost.
Following a similar career path to Metallica and In Flames, Paradise Lost’s albums have evolved with each release, some met with backlash, others becoming classics in underground metal. The very Metallica-sounding Draconian Times is its most popular album. This album and Icon were around the time I got into the band. If you’re a fan of those albums, you’ll like The Plague Within, as it’s really those albums morphed into one, with vocalist Nick Holmes’ recent stint fronting the death metal supergroup Bloodbath influencing a return to aggressive vocals, as well.
Guitarist Greg Mackintosh’s signature sound and Holmes clean singing set the dark tone and mood of these tracks, ranging from slower, gothic dirges like “Beneath Broken Earth” (if you like Type O Negative, you’ll love thi) and “Sacrifice the Flame” (which sounds like a death metal version of “Nothing Else Matters”), to some of the most aggressive songs featuring Holmes’ snarling death metal vocals, like “No Hope in Sight,” back to Draconian-like songs, “Punishment Time” and “Cry Out” (my personal favorite).
The album is solid from start to finish. I hate to use a phrase like “return to form,” but The Plague Within can rest aside the band’s classics comfortably, a huge feat for a band nearly 30 years old.
(Century Media Records, June 2, 2015)