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Paradise Lost : The Plague Within

Paradise Lost return triumphantly to something very like their original stomping-ground.

While looking for a way to properly start this review, I stumbled on the last one ever written on this site about the band. It was a long time ago, and our dear Aldo Quispel was reviewing 'Believe In Nothing' with these strong words : It is absolute nonsense that Paradise Lost returned to the style of 'Icon' or any older album here.

14 years after Believe In Nothing' was released, I must now say, my dearest Aldo, that you've been proved damn wrong.

It's not a mystery that Paradise Lost had wanted to come back to some of their old style, something that had been in the back of their mind since the first tries at bringing back the heaviness on 'Symbol of Life'. This was followed by a return to the basic form of Gothic Metal (of which, it must be reminded, they are the true originators with their landmark 'Draconian Times' album in 1995), then with each album going forward toward more heaviness, more darkness and slower still. Until coming full circle with 'The Plague Within' this year .

Of course, those expecting a come back to 'Lost Paradise' and 'Gothic' will be disappointed. It is more logical to present 'The Plague Within' as the missing link between 'Shades of God' (especially the strong opener 'No Hope In Sight'), 'Icon' and 'Draconian Times' to the old listeners: from the first, you get the heaviness, darkness and wailing vocals; from the second one, you get the melodies, some speedy parts and aggressive vocals. But, even then, this wouldn't sum up exactly what 'The Plague Within' is all about.

You have to understand how much the band leaders' side-projects had an influence on this album: it's obvious - just by listening to the first single, 'Beneath Broken Earth' - that going back to growling with Bloodbath had inspired Nick Holmes to the way of placing his voice on 'The Plague Within'. And it's obvious that going back to play old-school Crust-tainted Death Metal with Vallenfyre had an impact on the way Greg McIntosh composed riffs for 'The Plague Within'. The band isn't afraid to speed up a bit on some tracks, in order to strike harder where it hurts the most (the brutal 'Punishment Through Time', or the Death n'Roll-like 'Cry Out'). Still, at heart, it's full of doom and gloom, and the band isn't afraid once again to try some experimentation - like using a Gregorian choir, or bringing a violin and a female singer, stolen from their fellow countrymen My Dying Bride, on the heart-wrenching 'An Eternity Of Lies'. But, as in the days before 'One Second', it's the guitars that get the best parts, as seen on the impressive Doom lesson given by a track like 'Flesh and Bone'.

It has been said many times in the past, for each and every Paradise Lost album since their eponymous one, that the band had come back to their roots. But nowhere is it more understandable and listenable than on 'The Plague Within'. For this is not an album from an old band trying to bring their older fans back into the fold by going back in time to a period where they were unanimously considered as the (shadow)kings. First and foremost, this is all about a bunch of older guys who have rediscovered the pleasure in playing the music they were playing 20 to 25 years ago. And that, gentlemen, is at heart what makes 'The Plague Within' one of the Doom highlights of 2015.

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Reviewer's rating: 9.5/10


Tracklist :
1. No Hope in Sight
2. Terminal
3. An Eternity Of Lies
4. Punishment Through Time
5. Beneath Broken Earth
6. Sacrifice the Flame
7. Victim of the Past
8. Flesh from Bone
9. Cry Out
10. Return to the Sun

Duration : Approx. 50 minutes

Visit the Paradise Lost bandpage.

Reviewed on 2015-07-13 by Laurent Lignon
A Dream Of Poe - The Wraith Uncrowned
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