Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Review: Paradise Lost - Tragic Idol (2012)

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Tragic Idol

Paradise Lost - Tragic Idol
A pioneering band of the doom/death genre, England's Paradise Lost also have the distinction of being one of the progenitors of the Gothic metal sub-genre. Their landmark albums Icon and Draconian Times have influenced countless Gothic metal outfits, and still do to this day. Since releasing those albums, Paradise Lost have continued to redefine their sound - though never straying far from the style that established them as metal royalty. On Tragic Idol, the band's thirteenth full-length, a touch of heaviness displaces a bit of the Goth-rock sound heard on recent releases to produce a well-balanced effort that both casual and longtime fans will appreciate.

A remarkable thing about the lengthy existence of Paradise Lost is the band's stability. Since forming in 1988, the only position that experienced any turnover whatsoever has been the drummer. Joining the band in 2009 after the release of Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us, Adrian Erlandsson brings a treasure trove of skill and experience (for proof, see At the gates, Cradle of Filth, The Haunted, and about a dozen others) to the Paradise Lost rhythm section. It's a strange move for Erlandsson, though, since the style of music practiced by Paradise Lost isn't known for requiring much complexity behind the kit. "Theories From Another World" bucks that trend just a bit with some rather intricate fills and an uptempo pace accentuating the downtuned, swirling riffs and wild leads.

Paradise Lost
Elsewhere, the album alternates between the plodding, doomy riffs of opening track "Solitary One" and the chugging pace that has become a trademark of the Gothic style. "Fear Of Impending Hell", a highlight of Tragic Idol, falls into this latter category with a mournful guitar tone that gradually evolves into a rather driving, infectious pace. Frontman and lyricist Nick Holmes sings primarily in a scratchy, impassioned style that reminds me a lot of Killing Joke's Jaz Coleman, but on this song he smooths out his delivery a bit to compliment Greg Mackintosh's haunting leads. On the title track and album closer "The Glorious End", Holmes adds a traditional Gothic baritone to his repertoire for yet another layer of vocal intricacy. And speaking of layers, his harmonies on "Worth Fighting For" stand out as well as the Middle Eastern-themed backing vocals of "Theories From Another World".

At its core, Tragic Idol is an excellent representation of the Gothic doom sound that Paradise Lost has cultivated and experimented with since the early '90s. It's interesting to note that, while influencing countless Gothic and doom metal bands, Paradise Lost also finds inspiration from those very same outfits. Witness "The Glorious End", for example, as none-too-subtle Type O Negative guitar slides highlight the epically doomy riffs. Tragic Idol, while not really groundbreaking and at times flirting with a modern rock sound ("Crucify"), is nevertheless an excellent album that fans of the band - and Gothic doom in general - will enjoy.
Track Listing
1Solitary One4:08
3Fear Of Impending Hell5:25
4Honesty In Death4:07
5Theories From Another World5:02
6In This We Dwell3:54
7To The Darkness5:10
8Tragic Idol4:34
9Worth Fighting For4:12
10The Glorious End5:24
Total Runtime46:04

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