It’s not uncommon for bands that have been around for a long time to ‘go back to their roots’ and rehash styles they’ve long since got bored of and moved on from. But despite nearly 30 years in the business, UK veterans Paradise Lost are yet to become a nostalgia act.
Medusa is the Yorkshire doom outfits 15th album and first for Nuclear Blast, and sees them take inspiration from their earlier records but then surpass them to make what is probably the heaviest record of their career. The band has shifted styles to and fro over the years, but Medusa is as deathly and doomy as they come; it’s slow, it’s heavy, and it’s grim in the best way possible.
The epic eight-minute opener ‘Fearless Sky’ is a bold statement: leaden-paced, bleak, full of death growls with dark melodies and shades of Black Sabbath towards the end. It sets standards high, but the rest of the album follows through.
‘Gods of Ancient’ and ‘No Passage for the Dead’ are more grim slowness; repressively heavy but with massive injections of guitar. Nick Holmes’s vocals are still on point – he can growl (in a way that’s easily decipherable) and deliver the haunting clean vocals too. ‘The Longest Winter’ and the title track inject some melodic reprieve, allowing the Holmes’ melodic voice take the lead (while avoids the kind of cheesy crooning that plagues most goth bands) without losing the overarching sense of despondency.
‘Blood & Chaos’ – one of the singles from the album – sees Holmes doing his best Peter Steele impression, but the deep baritone and general uptempo nature of the song puts it at odds with everything else on here.
Paradise Lost have aged like a fine wine. Name another band (that isn’t Iron Maiden) releasing material of this quality after three decades and more than a dozen records. Possibly one of the best records of 2017 – and easily the best to come out of the UK.