Paradise Lost – Medusa Review

Band: Paradise Lost
Album: Medusa
Label: Nuclear Blast
Genre: Death/doom Metal
Country: United Kingdom
Release Date: 1st September, 2017

Medusa – that archetypal monster of Greek mythology, with her sea of serpentine hair and venomous gaze that can turn even the most stalwart hero into a block of stone.  In later versions of the myth, she is a dichotomy; her face is a timeless frame of beauty, while her pythonic attributes touch at many of the primal fears of humanity.  Paradise Lost, doom veterans with their own claim to mythos, return with an album of crushing heaviness and relentless fortitude in their fifteenth studio album.  Beneath sonic waves of destruction, touches of melodic beauty provide an endearing veneer that creates a remarkable soundscape.  It is fitting, then, that this monster is called Medusa.

Medusa begins backwards, in a sense – “Fearless Sky,” the album’s opener, is the longest track on the album.  Atmospheric guitar riffs provide an impetus into roiling waves of doom-laden heaviness.  It’s an approach favored by My Dying Bride, and it works well here for Paradise Lost.   Vocalist Nick Holmes switches between subversive growling and mellow singing, with the former taking prominence throughout the album.  Overall, it’s a throwback to the band’s earliest years, when Paradise Lost released hallmark albums such as Gothic and Shades of God.

“Gods of Ancient” begins up-tempo and shifts into a death/doom track with churning guitar riffs.  It’s somewhat forgettable until about the 3:20 mark, when the band switches direction and injects variation into the rhythm guitar.   “From the Gallows” is similar to material on the band’s previous effort, The Plague Within.  Drummer Waltteri Väyrynen, a newcomer to Paradise Lost, is a well-oiled machine as he provides interesting fills to keep the song moving forward.  After all this mayhem, the band steps back for just a moment on Medusa’s third track.  “The Longest Winter” begins slowly, with some Sabbath-inspired riffing framed by melodic vocals.

The album’s title track “Medusa” begins with keys, which sets up an agreeable atmosphere.  Holmes sings as the guitars cranks out a sludgy, depressing tone.  The song, while it favors Paradise Lost’s melodic side, is a testament to seasoned song-writing.  Four of the five members of the band were with Paradise Lost at the beginning, and their veteran approach to crafting music is on full display here.  The next song, “No Passage for the Dead,” is a typical death/doom number, and on the whole, it comes across as rather forgettable.

“Blood and Chaos” is a definite nod to Paradise Lost’s Gothic years.  The percussion and vocals shine on this track, and the uplifting beat keeps things moving.  “Until the Grave” is Medusa’s closer.  The tight, atmospheric riffing in the background coupled with a gritty bass line has the listener nodding along in no time.  The drums are in fine form, and the virtuoso guitar solo at the end of the song by Greg Mackintosh creates post-traumatic metal syndrome.  As the final notes of the song drift away into oblivion, it’s apparent that Paradise Lost still has it.

While fans of Paradise Lost’s heavier material will no doubt be most attracted to Medusa, there’s material for fans of all dispositions to enjoy.  Overall, there’s nothing groundbreaking on Medusa, but it’s a solid death/doom album and the strongest album they’ve released in a decade.  Paradise Lost is one of the most overlooked founders of metal, but Medusa proves that, like a fine wine, the band’s genius has only grown with time.

Rating: 8/10

1. Fearless Sky
2. Gods of Ancient
3. From the Gallows
4. The Longest Winter
5. Medusa
6. No Passage for the Dead
7. Blood and Chaos
8. Until the Grave

Total Playing Time: 42:41

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