The Plague Within
A dark and darkening journey
dB Rating: 9/10
Release Date: June 1st, 2015
Label: Century Media Records
Delving into a new Paradise Lost album circa 2015 is somewhat akin to making one’s traditional three-or-four-times-a-decade pilgrimage to a seductively forlorn, beguiling-by-way-of-imperial bed and breakfast nestled in a peaty, heath-festooned ethereal nether region of metaldom: Yes, the effects of a quarter-century of renovations—from sonic Lovecraftianism to baroque doom to mutated, sinister synth-pop to the perfect post-Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us (2009) synthesis of all three and more—are easily discerned amongst the cracks and accoutrements, but the compelling idiosyncratic character of the edifice has never been submerged or lost.
Review originally printed in the July 2015 issue (#129).The 14th visit to this sprawling Paradise Lost estate is one of the most satisfying yet—The Plague Within reveals a band that has put in the time, blood, sweat and oceans of tears necessary to perfect its particular/peculiar craft, and is now wholly focused on imbuing the resulting sound with ever-greater power. Gregor Mackintosh’s existential crisis-inducing riffage and arrow-to-the-heart noodling have perhaps never been so smartly and effectively intertwined, creating the sort of diverse, gorgeous backdrops that allow Nick Holmes to explore every facet of his gloriously schizoid vocals. The vivifying, palatial opener “No Hope in Sight” throws open the doors, inviting listeners to tour 10 ornate rooms full of fixtures, digressions and overlapping stratum, which fairly demand multiple returns, each more edifying than the last—and all of it strong enough to have us booking our next reservation before the final note rings out.
— Shawn Macomber
Review originally printed in the July 2015 issue (#129).