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 Paradise Lost - The Plague Within (2015) Album Review

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Paradise Lost - The Plague Within (2015)
Century Media -- Running Time: 50:26


Whatever I say in this review about Paradise Lost's fourteenth album 'The Plague Within' will undoubtedly cause divisiveness. There already seem to be many arguments, on this 'wonderful' thing we call the internet, about how good or bad this album actually is and that isn't to be unexpected because Paradise Lost have always been that type of band. I suppose what it really boils down to is whether you prefer their harsh, early sound or the more gothic band they turned into! In a career lasting nearly thirty years they've never really produced two albums in a row that are the same and 'The Plague Within' is no exception!

With that in mind, I wondered if I could review this without referring to previous releases but this is Paradise Lost and the only band you can really compare them with is themselves. What I can tell you is that while 'The Plague Within' might not be the best album Paradise Lost have ever made it is easily the heaviest album they've made for about twenty years. Stalwarts Nick Holmes and Greg Mackintosh have, in recent times, both returned to their extreme musical roots with Bloodbath and Vallenfyre respectively so you could perhaps expect that their current mindset might spill into the latest PL album. Holmes has returned to almost exclusive growling on this release, albeit a growl that does sound different from what has gone before and Mackintosh has delivered a set of huge and heavy Doom laden riffs with which to explore.

On paper this all sounds great considering they've mixed the Death and Doom heaviness with some Gothic stylings still apparent and the use of orchestral and string arrangements which Paradise Lost always do so well, even if used only fleetingly. On first listen though, I was distinctly unimpressed with what I was hearing. Song-wise it all sounded a little samey, bland and without the depth I'm used to hearing from them, regardless of era, possibly because I wasn't aware it was going to be so heavy. 'Terminal' in particular sounded messy and unprepared, but a couple of weeks on and I'm wondering if they shouldn't have called the album 'The Grower Within' because that's exactly what this is! Not every song hits the mark, but many such as 'An Eternity Of Lies', 'Beneath Broken Earth' and the superb 'Return To The Sun' slowly reveal themselves as fine compositions and the time it has taken for me to understand them has now made them all the more enjoyable!

This isn't 'Draconian Times' by any stretch of the imagination but this far into their career Paradise Lost don't need to prove themselves to anyone, least of all me! Had 'The Plague Within' been released by any number of lesser bands it would probably be hailed as a mini masterpiece! Paradise Lost and their music continue to evoke deep feeling, discussion and debate and whether you ultimately end up enjoying this album or not, you have to give the band great credit for continuing to instil that amount of passion in the listener. I've finally come down on the side of enjoying 'The Plague Within', I'm sure I will do for many years and I look forward to album number fifteen to see how the Paradise Lost story continues!

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Review written exclusively for Brutiful Entertainment by Rick Tilley:

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