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Paradise Lost - "The Plague Within" (CD)

Paradise Lost - "The Plague Within" CD cover image

"The Plague Within" track listing:

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

Reviewed by on July 14, 2015

"This is one album that deserves a place in your shelf next to early, amazing efforts from England’s Big Three of death/doom."

After twenty-seven years and fourteen albums, Paradise Lost returns with “The Plague Within,” a revisiting of the doom/death sound that launched the band's career. Returning to the beginning may seem like wasted effort to some bands, but Paradise Lost, along with My Dying Bride and Anathema, is one of the groups that sired the doom/death sound. Paradise Lost’s “Lost Paradise” and “Gothic” are two of the most influential death/doom albums of all time.

“The Plague Within” shows the band gloriously return to growled vocals and slow, thick riffs. The group never overlooks the goth rock that persists in latter efforts, though. Unlike some doom bands of today that play the same chords over and over, “The Plague Within” is quite dynamic, nor does the album contain overly long songs. Four to five minute tracks keep the album from getting boring. Guitar chords often ring slow and permeate sadness or bereavement through the air waves, while other parts reveal up-tempo rock sections and guitar harmonies.

“No Hope in Sight” uses guitar harmonies to transition from Type O Negative, “Draconian Times” type grooves. “Punishment Through Time” and “Sacrifice the Flame” both contain a swagger that recalls Crowbar. Both tracks contain some of Greg Mackintosh's most memorable riffs on the album. “Victim of the Past” contains downward spiraling rhythms that fall into heavy tom hits and eventually Nick Holmes assuming gruff, angry vocal tones.

At The Gates/The Haunted drummer Adrian Erlandsson fills in the gaps, keeping the beat or in the case of “Flesh From Bone,” hammering with authority. This track is a good example of how the album mostly moves at a down-tempo so that this medium tempo sounds fast. Erlandsson hits with such force that the song sounds fast, but the notes aren’t actually played with speed.

As if the guitar harmonies didn’t provide enough emotion, they often play like violins as heard on “Victim of the Past” where Paradise Lost sweetens its music with classical instrumentation. Check for symphonic passages such as the violin heard on “Sacrifice the Flame,” working well in tandem with the bass. “An Eternity of Lies” starts with a classical section of violin and piano and there are strong chorus lines during the part where Holmes sings “hear the isolation.” “Return to the Sun” meanwhile has choirs and horns and these parts have a definite My Dying Bride quality. Both groups share similar styles and are from the same town, Halifax, England, so it’s not crazy to think these two influence each other.

As stated above, most of the songs are in the four-minute range. However, the longest song “Beneath Broken Earth” is the band’s best track. This six-minute number starts like My Dying Bride with this riff that floats angrily in the sky, then it has heavy drums that kick in. This track shows the band revealing doom roots, slow and so heavy! There are so many great sing-along parts on the album, but this track contains a vocal part that truly stands out. In a death metal voice, Holmes proclaims “hail to nothingness, you wish to DIEEEEE!” All the while funeral notes are played in the background.

Steeped in emotional ambiance, classic doom-death rhythms and featuring ultra catchy vocal parts, “The Plague Within” is one of the best albums of 2015. For this writer, it is the album of the year, a perfect 5.0. I was hooked by the very first note and couldn’t put away the album until I listened to it time after time. This was exactly the album the band needed to make at this time in its career. This is one album that deserves a place in your shelf next to early, amazing efforts from England’s Big Three of death/doom.

Highs: The band returns to death/doom roots.

Lows: Not enough violin to accentuate the album's strong emotions.

Bottom line: Album of the year.

Rated 5 out of 5 skulls
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)