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Paradise Lost

Medusa

Review by Mike Korn

England’s Paradise Lost have come full circle and more with Medusa. This ground-breaking band got its start in the late 80s with some of the heaviest, gloomiest music ever recorded…a perfect combination of death and doom metal with a Gothic touch. They gradually added more melody to their sound until with Host, they almost ceased to be a rock band altogether.

Medusa shows you can go home again. This record is devastatingly heavy, and the feeling is relentlessly negative. Vocalist Nick Holmes has mostly returned to his gravel-crushing death growls, some of the best ever recorded,, but he has not abandoned his clean melodic vocals, either.

Eight or nine years ago, I had just about given up on Paradise Lost. Now Medusa is almost certainly going to be in my top 10 of the year.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Fearless Sky

Church organ tones kick the album off and set a gloomy tone. Then the suffocating and heavy tones of doom lay waste to all in their path. Nick Holmes' raspy growls are incredible. He’s one of the best death metal vocalists ever. This opening song is the longest on the record and features plenty of sorrowful guitar melodies on top of the crushing heaviness.

Gods of Ancient
This keeps the gloomy brutality going with even more force. The riffs come in like hammer blows! This really harkens back to the first two Paradise Lost albums, Lost Paradise and Gothic.
From The Gallows
You’ll feel like you’re swinging from the gallows yourself when you hear this devastatingly heavy song. The riffs and melodies are rather basic but incredibly catchy. The pace is quicker, with a driving tempo that almost forces head-banging. The tune is relatively brief, showing the band can mix things up and keep songwriting compact.
The Longest Winter
"Bleak" doesn’t begin to describe this exercise in total doom. This is heavy enough to sink to the center of the planet, yet it’s the most melodic song so far. Holmes returns to his clean vocals (for the most part), and glacial keyboards accentuate the grim and plodding slow riffs. This is an amazing song that will bring a chill to your soul.
Medusa
The title track is quite different from the other songs here. Although still heavy, piano plays a more prominent role, and Holmes vocals are at their most melodic. This is more reminiscent of the band’s middle period of more accessible songs, but the down-tuned guitar and bass is still throbbing. This is the most overtly Gothic song on show.
No Passage For The Dead
Now we're back to your regularly scheduled bulldozer. This is more knee-buckling crunch with a doomy edge and elemental riffing. The growls are back with a vengeance. This is death doom at its most devastating.
Blood and Chaos
This song is pretty brief but no less impactful. It’s the fastest and most aggressive on the album…not thrash speed, but something more like an APC barreling along. Holmes mixes gloomy spoken words with his usual growls. There’s also a kind of Celtic touch to the song.
Until The Grave
The album ends with the saddest song yet. There is more crushing heavy riffing, but the lead guitar melodies of Gregor Mackintosh are at their most sorrowful. There’s also ice cold synth adding an epic touch. The song is a fitting capper to one of the year’s best albums.
 
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