One thing is clear: The 14th studio album The Plague Within of the long-standing band Paradise Lost has its moments. Total, stellar Doom Metal moments like Beneath Broken Earth for instance. Offering a meatier Black Sabbath-style tune that is actually pretty good with a (very limited) solo to boot.
And there are other moments, like Cry Out, which give you hope that this is actually getting somewhere. Only to find out that this track is actually at the end, instead of somewhere else. Even if this piece of work feels like some ’80s Hard Rock or early Heavy Metal production gone Death Metal of sorts.
But most of this stuff is flowing, flowing slowly, not too harshly – not too juicy. And with no apparent surprises. I am really missing the underlying anger and despair! The aggressive drive that we should all feel and tremble like mortals before Dracula descends from his castle to deprive us of our blood.
And it does not come out when it should. Because this is Doom, where bleak terror should lurk in the darkest back corner of your being. Where is the underlying fire that brings it all alive? It sounds like a bunch of old men, trying not to show too much grouch. But still, there is somewhere some residual energy that begs for release, but isn’t.
And it is in this cookie-cutter Doom Metal dress that Paradise Lost presents its newest brew of specialty, Gothic-style dark beer called The Plague Within. With a return to Doom Death Metal, if you will. I am just asking myself where the hell is the plague in all of this? Because PL‘s tune here is way too laid back. And that’s not good.
For sure, they meet the requirements of heavy, slow doomy sound and the tracks present an okay structure. But at times this sounds like a badly synthesized mix between the aforementioned Black Sabbath and the recently reviewed record Damnatio Memoriae from My Silent Wake. The opening track No Hope in Sight actually brings it to a point: The whole production is not bad, but it is not really good either.
As I said at the beginning of the record, there are moments – brilliant moments – in The Plague Within that give you hope. Hope that the album will improve, but then you find that there is really No Hope in Sight. Or at least not as much as you would have liked.
The record is by no means bad, but Paradise Lost could have given The Plague Within much more power. Some more meat to the bone. Just take Return to the Sun or the solo – a memorable moment – in An Eternity of Lies.
This provides you with a taste of what it could have been, if only. Even if it somehow reminds you of Insomnium on a bad day. More dynamite and pepper would have made me stand up. Now, as it is, I stayed in my seat and kept on writing this review. I hope the next album will blow me out to space.