Nuclear Blast Records
''Feeling so alive in this hopeless dream...''
Paradise Lost was formed in 1988 in Halifex, England. Originally a gothic metal band, Paradise Lost has changed their style over the years to death / doom metal, being by far one of the most influential band in this sphere. The band has a very rich back-catalogue, having released 14 albums so far in the initial line-up, consisting of singer Nick Holmes, guitarists Greg Mackintosh and Aaron Aedy, and bassist Steve Edmondson. The only change in their line-up was in the drum department. “Medusa” is their fifteenth studio record, released on September 1st, via Nuclear Blast, and the first one with new drummer Waltteri Väyrynen.
The main topics of the album are nihilism, theology, and human existence, explored under the arching concept of the ancient Greek monster Medusa.
Gods of Ancient
From the Gallows
The Longest Winter
No Passage for the Dea
Blood and Chaos
Until the Grave
The end result is 43 minutes of music that is both highly philosophical and thoroughly enjoyable. The pace of the song is quite slow, only “Blood and Chaos” being a somewhat more upbeat and energetic track with a very catchy chorus and nice balance of cleans and harsh / growls. There are some fast-paced guitar solos (as the solo from “Until the Grave”), but elements of doom metal and even sludge metal are more upfront. The overall sound is very heavy, with powerful guitar riffs, hard-hitting drums, while the 8 songs are cohesive to the theme of the album.
“Medusa” starts with the longest track, “Fearless Sky”, and the intro gives me the chills every time, while setting the unmistakable gothic, borderline morbid mood for what is to follow. It gradually picks up pace both in vocal delivery (going from harsh vocals to melodic singing) and instrumental, making the 8 minutes and 30 seconds of the song fly-by. The theme behind the lyrics can be summarized by the expression ‘the richest man in the graveyard’, or to put it simply, in death we are all equal, no matter how many possessions we had in life (“Gold until death” as the chorus goes). “Gods of Ancient” deals with the concepts of paganism, polytheism, and worshiping the sun and/or the moon as the supreme God. The track is plodding and downbeat, with thick riffs, pounding drums and harsh vocals that are typical of Holmes’ style.
Though this is a doom record at its core and Paradise Lost are known for their downbeat approach to music, the album offers a variety of styles and tempos that keep the listener guessing. And “From the Gallows” differs slightly from the previous two tracks, having a really good guitar intro and intense drumming throughout it, while the vocals give it a more death-metal edge. Chosen as the first single, “The Longest Winter” again differs from the rest of the songs, being more atmospheric and melancholy (which will get many fans to think of the band’s “Believe in Nothing” era), with excellent, gloomy guitar work, and melodic, clean singing, coupled with some harsh vocals here and there. It’s the best song to introduce Paradise Lost to someone who doesn’t know the band as it incorporates all the essential elements that define the band’s sound.
The title track has nothing to do with the Greek monster, but with the life we all live on a daily basis. It features mostly melodic singing, a well executed guitar solo half-way through, and beautiful underlying piano lines. The next song, “No Passage for the Dead”, features some gritty vocals, and it talks about blind faith and its implicit perils for the masses (kind of like Epica’s “Fools of Damnation”). I love the overlap of male and female vocals (provided by guest singer Heather Mackintosh), as it gives the song a certain elegance and finesse. “Until the Grave” closes the album a very serious, almost pessimistic note, with lyrics that deal with all the innocent lives lost for such reasons as hatred or fear.
In conclusion “Medusa” is a strong addition to Paradise Lost’s discography, and a perfect follow-up to 2015’s “The Plague Within”. Though it is a hard album to get into, requiring multiple listening sessions to fully grasp the ideas behind it, once you break that barrier, you will notice how enjoyable it really is and on this ground I give it a solid 8.5 / 10.
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Nick Holmes – vocals
Greg Mackintosh – lead guitars, keyboards
Aaron Aedy – rhythm guitar
Steve Edmondson – bass guitar
Waltteri Väyrynen – drums