The follow up to ‘Plague Within’ was always going to be interesting, given the doom style they embraced on the album. Nick’s return to growl/rough vocals did divide some fans, who preferred the late 90’s early 00’s style. For myself it was Paradise Lost doing what they do best – whatever they like!
I have respect for a band who do what they want and not what people expect them to do. I enjoy all Paradise Lost albums, they all have their own identity and dynamic. For a band who will be celebrating tuning 30 next year, they have ridden the music industry wave of change well.
Now we welcome ‘Medusa’ to the Paradise Lost catalogue, it continues where ‘Plague Within’ left off. With a heavy doom vibe that reverberates through the album, the bass is deep and the drums thunderous. The guitar work fluctuates from solid riffs to fine technical work. It goes without saying that Nick has kept the deep growl and mixed in his usual beautiful vocals.
Album opener ‘Fearless Sky’ is an epic mix of dark gothic doom; with Nick’s gravelly growls adding to the dirty feel of the track. It really digs up beats deep from within the bowels of a dark place, as we embrace the doom and gloom. An up lift in the mood comes from Nick’s vocal change and the guitar melody changes, with solid riff work. The vibe continues with the song ‘Gods of Ancient’, which showcases some great guitar melodies from Greg and Aaron.
The first two songs are pretty epic so ‘From the Gallows’ is a slight curveball, it’s the shortest track on the album at 3:42. Therefore it gets straight to the point with a guitar intro, leading to the chugging of Steve’s bass that carries the song along. Lead single ‘The Longest Winter’ has a real atmospheric feel, that Nick’s clean vocals really embrace. It has a very classic Paradise Lost characteristic, which might be why it was chosen as the single. It’s not overly catchy, but I enjoy the melody.
Title track ‘Medusa’ is another quality chunk of classic Paradise Lost, with a majestic guitar intro by Greg that leads into Nick’s singing beautifully. He does break into his growls briefly, which is complimented with a lot of intricate guitar work. The solos and riffs blend brilliantly together, making this a standout track for myself. ‘No Passage for the Dead’ is another doom song with a good groove from the bass, the guitar riffs blend in too much for my liking on some parts of the song.
A more metal vibe is present with ‘Blood & Chaos’, in its rough, chunky guitar riffs. The bass really bellows with the guitar grooves. The solo gives the song a lot of dynamic, plus Nick’s singing cuts through the music well. It is a true Paradise Lost song, in that it embraces melody and darkness very well. Album closer ‘Until The Grave’ is an interesting choice, it has heavy overtones of classic Paradise Lost mixed with a slightly more experimental doom style. It is not a song I would chose to finish the album personally, it just felt like something was missing.
So, if you’re lucky enough to have the Bonus tracks, you are in for a mixed bag of songs. Firstly ‘Frozen Illusion’ is a raw and gritty song, Nick sounds like he is bringing up bile from deep within. It has a very old skool black metal; Paradise Lost sound. Even the guitar work is rough and jagged, with fast almost blast beat style drums from Waltteri. In complete comparison ‘Shrines’ is stripped down, with Nick’s vocal almost swallowing the listener whole. It is the solid and delicate guitar work that makes this a beautiful track. Finally, ‘Symbolic Virtue’ is a song that is more goth than doom, which I enjoyed. With its catchy chorus, it felt like I was back in the album ‘One Second’. I felt this ended the album better, as it was majestic and powerful in its structure.
Overall ‘Medusa’ is good sequel to ‘Plague Within’ as it builds on the doom and gloom element, as the whole vibe is dark. (what else would you expect from Paradise Lost?) The mix of chunky bass lines and intricate guitar solos is good with a solid drum performance from …. My only criticism is that it was more of the same, I really enjoyed the variation that the bonus tracks had to offer. As it showcased the wide range of styles that they embrace as a band, giving them scope to perform. If you love Paradise Lost I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. The album is definitely growing on me – It may prove to stand the test of time, but only time will tell!