Paradise Lost - Medusa 01If there was ever a band that has truly come full-circle with their music, Paradise Lost would be it. From atonal death/doom metal to Gothic metal to the full plunge into Depeche Mode-esque electronica before returning in sequential order, the British doom band proved to capably transform with each release, and yet still sound unmistakably like Paradise Lost. Back in 2015, Dr. Fisting reviewed The Plague Within, an album that found PL ready to re-embrace their death/doom roots, and while he didn’t enjoy the album, it did grow a bit on me… with one glaring exception. “Beneath Broken Earth,” perhaps the band’s most miserable song ever penned, was love at first listen, and very narrowly escaped being my Song o’ the Year winner. Now, with Medusa, the band proclaimed to have made an entire album in the vein of that song.

Immediately, the misery bleeds through from opening track “Fearless Sky,” with somber riffing by Aaron Aedy blanketed by a mournfully trademark Gregor Mackintosh melody. Nick Holmes sticks to mostly the same growls he utilized on The Plague Within, only they’re a touch stronger here. Only towards the middle and end of the songs do his clean vocals surface, and they add more heft as things progress towards a downtrodden finale. At eight-and-a-half minutes, this is the band’s longest song yet, but the journey remains enjoyable throughout and is one of Paradise Lost‘s strongest (and heaviest) songs penned to date.

The majority of Medusa retains this oppressive, foreboding aura with mixed results. The title track blends their recent death/doom resurgence with dashes of Draconian Times majestic clean singing, producing another instant classic as a result. But while those two songs could easily fit their band’s live repertoire with no problem, the majority of Medusa sounds (and feels) a bit safe. Mind you, “safe” doesn’t equate to “bad”, but very little risk is taken, and the lack of variety pulls the album down a bit. “Blood and Chaos,” Medusa‘s most upbeat song, would feel less bizarre if Holmes just sang on it instead of relying on his growls. Closer “Until the Grave” feels so out of place, coming across as a Draconian Times B-side than a fitting end to an oppressive album. That fact is made even more ridiculous when you factor that “Symbolic Virtue,” an actual B-side to the “Blood and Chaos” single, would have made a stronger album closer. The rest of the album, though good, feels interchangeable.

Paradise Lost - Medusa 02
Further diminishing things, the Jaime Gomez Arellano production and mix hamper the material. While I appreciate actually hearing and feeling Stephen Edmonson’s bass, the way new drummer Waltteri Väyrynen’s (also of Mackintosh’s Vallenfyre) plays sounds a bit off, especially in the cymbals and snare. Also, the overall mix feels a bit too smothered, not allowing for much breathing room. Songwriting-wise, just like with The Plague Within, there are a couple of strong songs, but the overall package just feels a bit too comfortable for my tastes. Again, not the worst thing in the world, but something to be mindful of.

Overall, though, Medusa adds another solid record since returning from their self-imposed hiatus from all things metal. While this won’t topple 2009’s incredible Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us as my go-to post-Host Paradise Lost album, Medusa has moments of sheer death/doom majesty. It’s Paradise Lost doing what they do best, and nothing more needs to be said.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Websites: paradiselost.co.uk | facebook.com/paradiselostofficial
Releases Worldwide: September 1st, 2017

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  • Septic

    I was hoping to find a slice of Paradise with Medusa; the feeling may be Lost at this point though.

  • mindbleach

    I actually really enjoyed The Plague Within so if this is a step up I’m sure to be happy.

    • Robert Cochran

      I wasn’t taken with The Plague Within, but I did enjoy the embedded track here. I’ll see what it brings.

  • I agree, this isn’t quite “Faith Divides Us”, but its a step up from “The Plague Within” and a mile ahead of everything from the early/mid 00s. I actually quite like this and would have given it a solid 3.5.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    “It’s Paradise Lost doing what they do best” and apparently their best is a 3. The Plague Within left me frigidly cold especially since I quite liked Tragic Idol. Haven’t listened to this one yet but I’m not super stoked to do it…

    • RuySan

      Tragic Idol is my favourite post Draconian times album. So good, and so catchy.

      But I may be that bizarre person who loves all paradise lost albums. Their sound has such an unique vibe, no matter if it’s played with guitars or synths.

      And what the fuckin happened with Mackintosh’s hair? This isn’t the late nineties. Is he going through a sugar Ray phase?

      • Grymm

        All his favorite TV shows have gone out the window.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Sugar Ray phase? You nailed it, hilarious. I didn’t even recognize him at first.

        • RuySan

          I still remember the day my sister remarked unironically that I would look better with my hair bleached.

          She says it never happened

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            Your comment made me wonder if Gregor Mackintosh’s sister had told him he’d look better with spiky bleached hair.

          • RuySan

            I’ll ask him the next time they are in town. Me and my friends spoke to him more than 10 years ago and he seemed a nice fellow.

            But you know… Bleached hair can change a person.

    • Grymm

      What I meant by that is it’s very much Paradise Lost with little deviation. Nothing wrong with that, but nothing “wow”-ed me except for two tracks.

      Mind you, I take that over a half-assed album.

  • Hammersmith

    I didn’t realize their frontman was H. Jon Benjamin.

    • Flämmer

      Do you want upvotes? Because that’s how you get upvotes.

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    I fell asleep halfway through my first listen. Sure they sound like PL again but they forgot to write engaging songs.
    On my meh list.

  • AndySynn

    Probably more of a 4.5 from me, but then, different folks, different strokes, and all that jazz.

  • DeathComesRipping

    Fearless Sky is one of the best songs i’ve heard this year tbh

  • Norfair Legend

    Sounds amazing so far, like they almost even took riffs off Gothic and plugged them right in. That’s cool though, as a massive fan I’m happy with the three songs that I’ve heard so far. I’d say an easy 4.0-4.5 from me, though I have not heard the whole thing, that could change.

  • hallowed

    It’s a fine album. Close to a four below.

  • I liked The Plague Within, but I also really liked In Requiem and Faith Divides Us. I think I missed Tragic Idol somewhere along the line… Medusa sounds great, but I agree, the song writing is not 100% there for me either. It’s a short album, but it manages to bore me after a while…

  • The Unicorn

    I think this is more a 4.0 but I def dig your review. I think this is their strongest release in a very, very long time. Between this, Pallbearer, Impure Wilhelmina and The Necromancers, I have more killer new doom than I know what to do with.

    • DIMENSIONAL BLEEDTHROUGH

      Don’t sleep on the new Youngblood Supercult and Elder records!

      • brutal_sushi

        My go to doom right now is the Illimitable Dolor self titled. I guess I prefer atmospheric/funeral doom over other types.

      • The Unicorn

        Both are sweet, thanks mate!

  • Ferrous Beuller

    I really like “Until the Grave”. I feel so… so… invalidated.

  • AnnieK13

    Like the embedded track and will check out the rest of the album.

  • Yolo Swaggins

    I never know what to expect from them. But I like this track. It is quite upbeat though, does anyone else think it sounds melodic-death-y?

  • aelena74

    As much as I am also that bizarre fan with no issues whatsoever with Host or even Believe in Nothing, it pains me that this album is weaker than The Plague Within. The review is right and it could be paraphrased simply by saying the album was uninspired. The Plague had some memorable tracks like An Eternity of Lies, but lost steam as the tracks pass by. This one has brilliant sparks here and there, but one can’t help wish for another album as solid and full of great tunes as Tragic Idol. Next time, maybe.

  • I.B. Hurtin

    I don’t know jack about music production but I strongly dislike having the snare drum front and center in the mix. Especially if it’s a bit “off”.

  • Wilhelm

    This is a terrible sounding album; the mix is off, too much compression on everything, and the drums sound plastic and ineffective. The quality of song writing varies and the album as a whole sounds uneven. I’m very disappointed, but not too surprised over the last dull album. The one positive note is that Nick’s death vocals sound great. In an interview they compared Medusa to shades of god, in no way, shape, form or at the mercy of the gods does this sound remotely similar or as good as even one song from shades.

    • nicholascagey

      Should have given em a call and lent them your hotshot production skills.

  • DrChocolate

    Grymm you get an internet high-five today! I unabashedly adore PL, in all their iterations and I totally agree with your sentiment on ‘Faith Divides Us…’. It’s damn near perfect and I feel that it’s tragically underappreciated, both as part of the bands catalog and also in the general metal-sphere. The title track alone is a stone-cold classic.

    Regarding Medusa, I haven’t heard it in full but coming from a total fanboy – I really like what I’ve heard.

    • Danny

      I love the FDUDUU title track, i guess this is my sign to finally listen to the rest of it.

      • Please do. It’s properly ace. :)

    • Glad I’m not the only one who thinks Faith Divides Us is up there with their best :-D

  • Danny

    Am I the only one who really liked The Plague Within? I mean, it was inconsistent, but I feel like the good outweighed the bad. Cry Out and Punishment Through Time were kinda rubbish songs but the rest was good to great, and the balance worked well enough to make me spin that record dozens of times since it came out

    • Pimpolho

      I agree. Cry Out is trash, but everything else is at least good.

    • Strangely, I remember Plague being on many other top ten lists of that year. Not here, apparently.

      I prefer the couple of albums before it, however…

    • Grumpyrocker

      I absolutely love The Plague Within. Still gets a play a couple of times a week here.

    • Danny

      I just remembered why I love Plague. It doesn’t have Nick’s Hetfield-styled yarling on it, which I find to be an incredibly unappealing vocal style. His cleans and his harshes sound terrific, but the in-between does nothing for me sonically and emotionally. I still can’t get into Draconian Times because of it.

  • I quite enjoyed the embedded track. Drums don’t sound great, but the guitar is nice and crunchy. Vocals also sound good. I’ve never actually loved an entire Paradise Lost album though so my expectations aren’t super high.

  • For some reason, it took until Plague for me to realise this was a band I liked. I then spent the next two years going back through their catalogue, and love a good half dozen of their releases. I’m keen on this one, but I fear I’ll agree that Faith Divides Us will remain their best work this century…

  • Arjan Zwamborn

    Plague Within was a… mediocore album? Very interesting take on a modern day classic to me. I remember the days where people united in their pleas for Paradise Lost to return to their old(est) form – now that they do, they receive a resounding ‘meh’. I guess there’s no pleasing (some) fans.

    Even though I wasn’t as impressed by the few tracks I’ve heard as I was by the Plague Within, I’m sure I’ll like it – personally, I think every album since In Requiem has been great (they had a few stinkers after Draconian Times).

    Anyway, nice review Grymm. One thing I’d like to nitpick about is your comment on “Symbolic Virtue”. I haven’t heard the album so I don’t know how it closes, but “Symbolic Virtue” is a B side if I ever heard one. Glad to have heard it alongside “Blood and Chaos” as an extra, even more glad it’s not on the album.

    • Grumpyrocker

      Plague Within is in my opinion the band’s best album since Draconian Times. I absolutely love it. Was quite surprised to find many other PL fans didn’t think the same.

      • Arjan Zwamborn

        I couldn’t choose between Tragic Idol, Faith Divides Us and Plague Within – but it’s definitely up there.

  • Metal and Hockey

    Tragic Idol is one of my favorite albums of the last decade. The Plague Within is top 10 for me too. I’m sure I will like the new one too. Haven’t heard any songs from it yet waiting to hear the album as a whole

  • walk_among_us

    Oh damn I didn’t even know they had a record coming out. I fucking loved The Tragic Idol. I remember seeing them in 2007 with Nightwish, dope show!

  • PapaRay

    You hit the nail on the head with how the drumming sounds off. I actually spent a good portion of my first listen through fixating on the drumming and trying to decide what was bothering me. So far I’ve only listened to Medusa twice, but I did enjoy the second listen more. I am a bit of a PL slut, so I’m sure I’ll grow to really like it eventually.

  • Phantom667

    Once more its entertaining to see how the last two albums of PL divide the AMG crowd. I am on the side of would be a strong 4.0 as well.
    Those last two albums just remind me a lot of my mopey youth where I was a die hard fan of the lost paradise till icon era. For me personally the band hasnt sound this good since draconian times.

  • Nukenado

    But… can’t we all be misrable melodic poseurs together…?
    I didn’t hate the One Second phase…

  • Shawn Cypher

    I like all PL, but I’m probably in the minority here: I fucking love Host, Believe in Nothing, and Symbol of Life… and especially the 2005 Self Titled album too. “Don’t Belong”, etc… right up in my feels.

    • RuySan

      You are not alone!

      Except for the self titled album which I think it’s the weakest of their career.

    • Borreh

      Their self titled introduced me to the band and I still think it’s their best (and most overlooked) release. Not a single bad song.

      I also loved In Requem, but everything onwards sounded same-ish and mediocre with the exception of The Plague Within which was so dull I can’t believe this album exists, and I say this as a death/doom metal fan.

      Medusa, for all of its faults, at least sounds like the band is having fun playing it.

  • After one listen-through, I think it’s decent. Definitely the doomier side of PL. I’m not in love with the guitar tone on this one, though…

  • Shrümpelstiltskin

    Dang, looking at the comments section makes me realize how divisive opinions on each Paradise Lost album are. I just started listening to Medusa, so I don’t know how I feel about it yet. This first song is rad though! ;)

  • Grumpyrocker

    Hmmm. My CD arrived today. It has eight tracks. But all the streaming places seem to have ten tracks. Are the last two bonus tracks? They aren’t listed as such.

  • tim.o

    This album is at least a 3.5. A 4.0 in my book. It’s heavy as shit, has a great flow and keeps my attention. I really don’t get it where some folks are coming from; and I am not even a fan boy.
    Also, I can’t even fault the production. Just had to throw my 2 cents in after a couple of listens.