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Paradise Lost - "Tragic idol" (CD)

Paradise Lost - "Tragic idol" CD cover image

"Tragic idol" track listing:

1. Solitary One (4:08)
2. Crucify (4:08)
3. Fear of Impending Hell (5:25)
4. Honesty in Death (4:08)
5. Theories from Another World (5:02)
6. In This We Dwell (3:55)
7. To the Darkness (5:09)
8. Tragic Idol (4:35)
9. Worth Fighting For (4:12)
10. The Glorious End (5:23)

Reviewed by on April 23, 2012

"There are plenty of layers of sound to work through and no outright bad tracks, but there’s also nothing majorly shocking, thrilling, or unexpected to be heard here."

When a band remains active for over 20 years it earns a certain amount of respect and credibility that can’t be matched by younger acts, no matter how technically proficient or which big trend wave they happen to be riding. “Tragic Idol” is as painstakingly polished and as solidly crafted an album as would be expected from a band that’s been doing this since the late ‘80s. Paradise Lost fans have plenty to look forward to from this album, and it’s got cross-genre appeal due to the range of influences readily heard in the music.

Despite Paradise Lost being more on the “doom” or “goth” end of the metal scale, the overall sound of “Tragic Idol” is very firmly rooted in traditional metal, and there’s even a good deal of thrash influences heard in any given song. The opening segment of the title track in particular has a huge traditional metal feel, almost bringing to mind Metallica before the gothic clean singing comes in. From beginning to end the album is pretty relentlessly heavy, but mostly in a slow and booming way, rather than an explosive or fast way. Vocally, the first two thirds of the album focus on a half-growl, but towards the end of the disc the gothic, Type O Negative style vocals get unleashed.

While plenty heavy, the album also earns the tag “melodic,” although mostly just in the sense that it isn’t brutal and there are plenty of guitar hooks, rather than in the sense of anything with keyboards or orchestra elements. Songs like closing track “The Glorious End” take the low end sounds incredibly deep, almost like something from a funeral doom release, but then also mix in a decent amount of rock for good measure.

Unfortunately there’s really not much energy to the first several tracks, and while that may be the point – this is supposed to be gloomy after all – it makes the early songs fairly forgettable. The frequently slow pacing also doesn’t really help matters. “Tragic Idol” is solid overall, and it’s hard to point out specific flaws in the song construction, but on the flip side there’s also not much that stands out. With the exception of the title track and the more focused and atmospheric “Theories of Another World,” much of the album is essentially interchangeable.

While perfectly listenable and probably an easy hit for Paradise Lost fans, “Tragic Idol” isn’t exactly an instant classic. There are plenty of layers of sound to work through and no outright bad tracks, but there’s also nothing majorly shocking, thrilling, or unexpected to be heard here.

Highs: Polished and solid goth/doom sound rooted in traditional metal with great guitar playing.

Lows: There's not really a standout or knockout track, and there's nothing memorable in the contsant slow pacing.

Bottom line: Paradise Lost brings on another round of gloomy metal with solid guitar work, although it's not quite a smash hit.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)