Tragic Idol (Century Media)
For album number thirteen in their illustrious career, the members of long running Gothic doomsters PARADISE LOST went back to basics. The band known for their genre defining albums early in their career, have continued to evolve slowly over twenty years. As time marches on in an artists career, there is usually no accounting for how copycats shape a sub-genre. Most critics tend to judge the originating group(s) on whether they stay the course or not, which is often a mistake. In the meantime while everyone has their thumb up their collective asses (or arses), PARADISE LOST has turned in a stunner of an album. One worthy of note as one of the best in their storied career. As is the case in these days, we’ll shall see if the thunder of the sound is matched by the praise and fanfare they so richly deserve.
Epic in scope from the very first notes, Tragic Idol feels like a landmark album right away. “Solitary One” opens with the melancholy angst you’ve come to expect from these dark masters. Nick Holmes’ downtrodden voice has never sounded stronger or more exasperated at life’s folly. The deft sense of melody Holmes is known for injecting into his lines has not softened over time. Perhaps energized by his side project VALLENFYRE, Greg Mackintosh, has written some of his heaviest and most unforgettable riffs on this album. Second track “Crucify” has an opening lick full of the fire and flash that the band has missed of late. The main riff of the song is an instant classic and Holmes singing is terrific. Right away the pulse pounding beats from Adrian Erlandsson (VALLENFYRE/AT THE GATES/CRADLE OF FILTH/THE HAUNTED/NEMHAIN) are really classic in composition and exciting to hear. When the song slows down to half-time towards the end of of the track, you feel the full weight of the emotions of the music. These first two tracks are very evenly matched and make for a good blueprint for the rest of the album. “Fear of Impending Hell” has the grim, but catchy sound of the band you love. You almost want to flick open a lighter and wave your arms to and fro for this one. Steve Edmondson chips in some fine bass guitar work on this one too. “Honesty In Death” is another slow head-nodder. The riffs are crisp, yet there is a great guitar interplay going on between Mackintosh and Aaron Aedy. Holmes poignant lyrics are driven home with amazing melodic sentiments. “Theories From Another World” is just a ferocious cut with a great main lick and more great guitar work. The dynamic shifts and rhythms build great drama as the track progresses. “In This We Dwell” is an equally vigorous metallic workout. Such fine songwriting has to be fully appreciated in this time of throw-away music. “To the Darkness” is also an upbeat number that continues to mine angst and rage for the venerable band. The doomy breakdown in the middle might be the highlight of the entire album. It is certainly one of this years’ heaviest musical moments. The title track follows next and does more of the same, bridging heavy sounds with heartfelt feelings. “Worth Fighting For” has some fine percussive moments that call to mind some of today’s leading Pagan metal bands, some of whom owe a debt to this band in some slight way. The final track “The Glorious End” sounds just like it’s title, huge. This is sure to be a release that delights longtime fans and makes news ones wonder what they ever listened to before.
by Keith (Keefy) Chachkes