Paradise Lost, Medusa: Deathly Passages

Posted in Reviews on August 10th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

paradise lost medusa

Next year will mark the 30th anniversary of England’s Paradise Lost, who in that time have crafted a storied, varied and massively influential career in doom. Whether as part of the original ‘Peaceville three’ alongside UK countrymen My Dying Bride and Anathema in the ’90s as they helped shape the decade’s course with records like 1991’s Gothic, which followed their 1990 debut, Lost Paradise, or 1992’s Shades of God, 1993’s Icon and 1995’s Draconian Times or the veering away from what had been the innovative downtrodden aggression of death-doom and gothic-doom in their sound — if not the dramatic sensibility — that came later in 1997’s One Second, 1999’s Host, 2001’s Believe in Nothing and 2002’s Symbol of Life, their evolution has divided fans and critics as only a band truly committed to following their own path can. With the release of their self-titled in 2005, Paradise Lost began to reemphasize the lead guitar of Gregor Mackintosh in their sound, and gradually since, the five-piece have pushed back into heavier and darker territory.

It’s been a decade-long process, with 2007’s In Requiem, 2009’s Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us (review here), 2012’s Tragic Idol and 2015’s The Plague Within (review here), and with 2017’s Medusa — also their first offering through Nuclear Blast after releasing the prior four LPs and other numerous collections through Century Media — that progression toward darkened heft would seem to have hit a new zenith. From the Branca Studio artwork through the ultra-thick chug from Mackintosh and rhythm guitarist Aaron Aedy, the thudding drums of newcomer Waltteri Väyrynen (ex-Moonsorrow, among others), the heft of Stephen Edmonson‘s bass and the shifts between cleaner singing and harsh growls from vocalist Nick HolmesMedusa is Paradise Lost unabashed in their approach to doom — a sound they’ve made their own over time and one that tracks like the deeply metallic “From the Gallows” and the slogging “No Passage for the Dead” show they’re willing to reshape to their purposes on any given track.

Vital in their delivery and given added impact through the biting production of Jaime Gómez Arellano at Orgone Studios in London (see also: CathedralWith the DeadSólstafir and many others), Paradise Lost can come across as absolutely vicious throughout Medusa‘s eight tracks and 42 minutes, so that by the time they get around to the last push and rasps of closer “Until the Grave,” the organ introduction of 8:31 opener and longest inclusion (immediate points) “Fearless Sky” is a distant, mournful memory. Yet their work here is informed by an accessibility of structure as well. “Fearless Sky” is clearly intended to send a message to their audience with its overbearing crash, grueling tempo, drawn-out leads and Holmes‘ initial growls, but it also shifts into a melodic hook in its midsection — the crafters of Gothic playing very much to the gothic metal they helped craft — and once established, that dynamic becomes essential to the atmosphere and, in the end, the success of Medusa.

paradise lost

With Paradise Lost circa 2017, it’s not just about drawing solely on their early albums, or their middle period, or even the last decade’s clear-headed pummel — it’s about taking all of that and creating something with it that continues to move their progression forward. Second track “Gods of Ancient” follows the willful body-drag of “Fearless Sky” with an extremity of darkness worth of the band’s legacy that picks up its pace in the second half around a particularly punishing riff, setting up a thrust further into darkness on the shorter “From the Gallows,” which offsets a chugging verse with transitional lead lines and a more open-feeling chorus. This opening salvo consumes most of side A along with whatever else happens to step in front of it, and as “The Longest Winter” offers a breather in its atmospheric, birdsong-laden introduction, it also marks a turn toward cleaner-singing from Holmes that was foreshadowed in “Fearless Sky” but that, brought more forward and only offset by a couple guttural complementary lines, emphasize just how deeply bleak Paradise Lost get over the first three tracks. I’m not sure I’d call it a moment of hope in terms of ambience — it’s still plenty dark, plenty gray — but it’s nonetheless a departure from the rest of side A before it.

So does that mean the final four cuts on Medusa find Paradise Lost further expanding the context of the album overall? Somewhat, but they also reaffirm the emotional and tonal mire of the first half. The title-track, at 6:20, mirrors “Fearless Sky” in being the longest piece on its side (secondary points), and it begins with a quiet piano line that will reemerge throughout the entirety of the song as a focal point, a theme around which the weighted guitars and bass churn, vocals going from clean to rough in a flipped-script manner that was initiated by “The Longest Winter” before reverting to the deathly on the very-much-guitar-led “No Passage for the Dead” and “Blood and Chaos” — the latter arguably the most metallic of Medusa‘s tracks in quickness of pace and the straightforward swapping of growled verses and a harmonized chorus, Mackintosh‘s leads still a hallmark of Paradise Lost‘s sound as ever in the efficient, tightly-executed 3:51 that seems to answer “From the Gallows” in ferocity of purpose while surpassing it in catchiness level.

One might expect, given the traditional shape of the tracklist and the way Medusa unfolds across its span, that “Until the Grave” would task itself with summarizing the entirety of what comes before it, but it instead draws on the bitter mournfulness of “No Passage for the Dead” and “Blood and Chaos” and pushes them outward with keyboard flourish and steady rhythmic roll. It is a grim and thoroughly doomed finale, but I suppose in that it does actually do a fair bit of summary for what Medusa has on offer — a lack of pretense in its intention and a sharp-edged lucidity underlying the murk created throughout. A mission statement unto itself, “Until the Grave” ends simply, perhaps even in understated fashion, and leaves the listener wanting more, which for a band about to hit their 30th year and releasing their 15th full-length is no minor accomplishment in itself. Nonetheless, that Paradise Lost have never settled in terms of aesthetic, songwriting or performance has become a key facet of their longevity, and monstrous as it is, it’s only right that Medusa should stand as another richly satisfying next-step in their seemingly perpetual growth.

Paradise Lost, “Blood and Chaos” official video

Paradise Lost website

Paradise Lost on Thee Facebooks

Paradise Lost at Nuclear Blast website

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Paradise Lost: New Album Medusa Due this Summer

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 27th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Those who’ve followed UK death-doom groundbreakers Paradise Lost for the better part of the last decade have been rewarded thoroughly by the band’s return toward darker and more extreme sounds. Their 2015 outing, The Plague Within (review here), was perhaps the bleakest step in this somewhat reformed direction to-date, and it would seem that the forthcoming Medusa — which will be the band’s 15th album and label debut on Nuclear Blast after working with Century Media since 2007 — intends to continue that thread. Nothing to complain about there. When Paradise Lost go dark, they go really, really dark.

Good news that they’re in the studio now — including artsy shots of them at work — follows, courtesy of the PR wire:

PARADISE LOST reveal new album title and details

At this moment, iconic UK metallers, PARADISE LOST, are putting the final touches to their upcoming album, recorded at Orgone Studios in the misty countryside of Woburn, England. Together with producer Jaime Gomez Arellano, they have forged the follow-up to their highly acclaimed release The Plague Within (2015), which brought them a step closer to their death metal roots. This time, PARADISE LOST will haunt their fans with a heavy, doom-ridden monster, as lead guitarist and songwriter Greg Mackintosh reveals:

“The new album will be slower, sludgier and more doom filled than ever before. Eight riff laden monster tracks of sheer Northern misery.”

This 15th studio album will see the light of day at the end of summer via Nuclear Blast and is entitled Medusa. As some might know, Medusa is considered a hideous Gorgon in Greek mythology – a winged female monster with living venomous snakes in place of hair and everyone who dares taking a look at her will immediately turn to stone! So watch out for new details about the album being revealed soon – if you dare.

PARADISE LOST are:
Nick Holmes | vocals
Greg Mackintosh | lead guitars
Aaron Aedy | rhythm guitars
Steve Edmondson | bass
Waltteri Väyrynen | drums

www.paradiselost.co.uk
www.facebook.com/paradiselostofficial
www.nuclearblast.de/paradiselost
https://www.facebook.com/nuclearblastusa
https://twitter.com/nuclearblastusa
https://www.instagram.com/nuclearblastusa/
http://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/shop/index.html

Paradise Lost, The Plague Within (2015)

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Opeth and Paradise Lost Sign to Nuclear Blast Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 15th, 2016 by JJ Koczan

It’s only been two years since the last Opeth record came out — seems like much longer — but they’ve got a new one coming. It’s called Sorceress. I’m not even going to speculate what it might sound like, but as I was getting ready to post the news that Paradise Lost signed to Nuclear Blast, word came down that Opeth had as well, so it seemed only fair to combine them. Monte Conner killing it once again, as he will.

After four full-length albums, numerous compilations, reissues, live albums and so on, UK doom mainstays Paradise Lost have left Century Media to sign with Nuclear Blast. Entirely possible that whatever the terms of Paradise Lost‘s contract with Century Media were, those terms have been fulfilled — like I said, there have been a lot of releases since 2007’s In Requiem, their debut on the label — but though Century Media and Nuclear Blast at one time shared a building (their US offices), it’s a considerable jump anyway and is a name of considerable import to add to the Nuclear Blast roster, which continues to flourish.

Paradise Lost‘s most recent full-length is 2015’s The Plague Within (review here). They seem to drop hints below of a new release coming in 2017.

From the PR wire:

opeth

paradise-lost

OPETH sign to Nuclear Blast Entertainment; “Sorceress” to be released in late 2016

PARADISE LOST sign to Nuclear Blast

Nuclear Blast Entertainment is very pleased to announce the signing of Swedish progressive legends, OPETH. Always an unstoppable force for uniqueness amid a sea of generic swill, OPETH has been setting the rulebook ablaze, and ploughing a uniquely progressive and exploratory furrow for over 25 years now. Neither conforming nor exhibiting any desire to be restricted to a single genre, OPETH, quite simply, has a time honored tradition of blowing our minds with both class and forward thinking. All these years later, nothing and everything has changed once again with their forthcoming album Sorceress.

“We’re happy to confirm that we have indeed signed a deal with Nuclear Blast Entertainment and will be putting out our 12th studio album Sorceress via our own imprint, Moderbolaget Records,” states Mikael Åkerfeldt. “The decision was made in Markus Staiger’s (Nuclear Blast kingpin) ridiculously potent Porsche going at 150 mph somewhere in the south of Germany. We’re happy to be part of the NB team and look forward to a fruitful relationship.”

Nuclear Blast owner, Markus Staiger, continues:
“I am honored that OPETH has joined the Nuclear Blast family. Mikael Åkerfeldt and his fellow bandmates have demonstrated time and time again that OPETH are a band that never releases an album that sounds the same. You never know what their new music will sound like! Nuclear Blast has been following the musical journey of OPETH from the beginning with Orchid to landmark albums like Still Life, Deliverance, Damnation and Blackwater Park, right up to 2014’s Pale Communion. The band has become one of the most challenging artists in rock music today. It is not often that we get to work with musicians of their caliber and I am thrilled to have such a unique genre-leader on the label. The future for OPETH and Nuclear Blast looks very bright.”

Monte Conner, Nuclear Blast Entertainment president adds:
“OPETH are a band that has continually evolved and moved forward at every stage. Always innovating and always continuing to challenge themselves as players and writers. They are simply fearless. I can’t wait to hear what they come up with next! It’s an amazing feeling to be reunited with one of my favorite bands and I look forward to my colleagues here at Nuclear Blast being able to have their own OPETH experience and role in the band’s continuing journey. I want to thank Mikael Åkerfeldt and OPETH for putting their faith and trust in everyone here at Nuclear Blast.”

OPETH are currently in the studio with Tom Dalgety putting the finishing touches on Sorceress. A release for the album is tentatively scheduled for the fall via Moderbolaget Records / Nuclear Blast Entertainment.

Iconic UK metallers, PARADISE LOST, have signed a worldwide deal with German-based metal powerhouse Nuclear Blast! Formed in Halifax, West Yorkshire in 1988 and still boasting 4 of its 5 original members, the band are widely-credited with co-founding the gothic metal genre with their sophomore album, Gothic (1991). Through the years, PARADISE LOST have changed their style effectively and reinvented themselves again and again. They elbowed their way from their original doom/death metal on their debut, Lost Paradise (1990) to the classic Icon (1993) and more experimental One Second (1997). Finally they went back to the roots with their current release, The Plague Within (2015) and some of the best reviews of their career.

Vocalist Nick Holmes commented:
“PARADISE LOST’s career has run alongside Nuclear Blast Records since the label began in the late 80’s. And as huge fans of original death metal, we still have the majority of the label’s first releases from those very early days. It’s pretty incredible to see how the label has become a real force in metal music over the years, both in Europe and America and now, nearly 30 years later, in a new chapter for the band, it’s exciting for PARADISE LOST to be a part of Nuclear Blast in 2017!”

Nuclear Blast owner Markus Staiger adds:
“As a fan from day one I’ve been following PARADISE LOST ever since their death metal era but also enjoyed watching them grow into something even bigger and so unique. They defined and later on re-defined the gothic genre and always delivered the most dark and memorable songs. It’s with great pleasure to finally welcome the band to the ever-growing Nuclear Blast family! Needless to say that we’re very much looking forward to this cooperation!”

PARADISE LOST live:
18.06. B Dessel – Graspop Metal Meeting
19.06. F Clisson – Hellfest *SOLD OUT*
03.07. D Roitzschjora – With Full Force
09.07. SRB Novi Sad – Exit Festival
17.07. FIN Joensuu – Ilosaarirock
11.08. D Schlotheim – Party.San Open Air
13.08. UK Walton On Trent – Bloodstock Open Air
20.08. D Hamburg – Elb-Riot
27.08. TR Istanbul – %100 Metal Fest Headbangers’ Weekend
15.10. BR Sao Paulo – Epic Metal Fest Brazil

PARADISE LOST are:
Nick Holmes | vocals
Greg Mackintosh | lead guitars
Aaron Aedy | rhythm guitars
Steve Edmondson | bass
Waltteri Väyrynen | drums

www.paradiselost.co.uk
www.facebook.com/paradiselostofficial
www.nuclearblast.de/paradiselost
www.opeth.com
www.facebook.com/opeth
www.twitter.com/officialopeth
www.instagram.com/officialopeth
www.youtube.com/opethofficial

Paradise Lost, “Beneath Broken Earth” official video

Opeth, Live at Motocultor 2015

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My Dying Bride Invite You to Feel the Misery Sept. 18

Posted in Whathaveyou on June 30th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

my dying bride

Two and a half decades after getting their start, UK morose doom pioneers My Dying Bride are getting ready to release their 12th full-length. Titled Feel the Misery, the new record will follow 2012’s A Map of Our Failures and its subsequent EP companion, The Manuscript and is set to arrive via Peaceville on Sept. 18. A band who, even 25 years later, continue to polarize audiences, no doubt My Dying Bride will make the titular misery palpable across the included eight tracks, their long-established theatrical sensibilities remaining perpetually dark, no matter where their sound actually takes them.

An offering then, from the PR wire:

my dying bride feel the misery

MY DYING BRIDE ANNOUNCES NEW ALBUM “FEEL THE MISERY”

12th studio album out September 18 on Peaceville

My Dying Bride’s latest opus and 12th full studio album, Feel the Misery, is set for release on September 18 on Peaceville Records. With crushing epic doom spanning eight tracks, and featuring the return of original guitarist Calvin Robertshaw to the fold, this is undoubtedly amongst the band’s heaviest, darkest and most majestic works to date, marking My Dying Bride’s 25th anniversary in punishing style, with the title track also set to feature as the album’s debut video.

Feel the Misery sees a notable return to the band’s old haunt, Academy Studios in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, for recording where all of My Dying Bride’s classic early albums were produced. Mixing once more takes place at Futureworks in Manchester, U.K. with the band’s long-time studio engineer/producer, Mags.

The band commented on the themes of Feel the Misery: “Contained within are all the grandeur and mastery of the melancholic one would expect to find on a recording from this group of musicians.

“The crushing of hearts and the solemn farewells to friends and lovers twinned with the destruction of flesh and the passions of cruelty are laid neatly for the listener to devour and savour.

“Eight new compositions detailing the path of life through dark doors and the burdens we all must endure simply to make it to the end, My Dying Bride have returned with a foreboding new album which may enlighten, delight and consume the soul in one epic sitting.”

Feel the Misery will be released on CD, vinyl, plus a special edition 2CD/2×10 vinyl set in deluxe earbook format with exclusive music and expanded booklet.

1. And My Father Left Forever
2. To Shiver in Empty Halls
3. A Cold New Curse
4. Feel the Misery
5. A Thorn of Wisdom
6. I Celebrate Your Skin
7. I Almost Loved You
8. Within a Sleeping Forest

My Dying Bride has been the leading light of doom metal since its debut album, As the Flower Withers, was released on Peaceville Records back in 1992, and the band’s heavy atmospherics and expertly crafted compositions makes it among the most essential and legendary acts of the gothic doom/death genre.

My Dying Bride will play festivals in Europe over the summer. A full list can be seen below.

Stay tuned for more information on My Dying Bride and Feel the Misery, out this September on Peaceville.

My Dying Bride live…

7/31 – Wacken Festival – Germany
8/02 – Rock Off Festival – Istanbul, Turkey
8/07 – Rock Part Festival – Lake Balaton, Hungry
8/08 – Party San Metal Open Air – Schlotheim, Germany
8/29 – Seinajoki Metal Festival – Rytmikorjaamo, Finland

My Dying Bride is…
Aaron Stainthorpe – Vocals
Andrew Craighan – Guitar
Calvin Robertshaw – Guitar
Lena Abé – Bass
Shaun MacGowan – Keyboards / Violin

www.mydyinbride.net
https://www.facebook.com/pages/My-Dying-Bride-Official-uk/282179138510618

My Dying Bride, Live at Graspop Metal Meeting 2015

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