Paradise Lost: Tragic Idol

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Paradise Lost: Tragic Idol
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Paradise Lost: Tragic Idol
Gothic Metal
Century Media Records
April 24th, 2012
Release length: 46:05
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Paradise Lost has been one of the leading names in Metal over the years. Originally, the group was acknowledged as a pretty good Doom and Death Metal act, though that style never really took off. It wasn’t until they switched to a Gothic Rock/Metal sound that they started to become a household name. Tragic Idol marks their thirteenth album in their roughly twenty four year career, an impressive milestone for them. But, does this anxiously awaited follow-up to 2009’s Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us live up to the expectations of their fans?

Similar to previous recordings, the quality to Tragic Idol sounds bleak, a little on the rougher side, and a bit open. This does work to make the material of album have an atmosphere that perfectly describes the style they play, as well as caters to some of the Doom Metal tendencies that linger around. The guitars are simply heavy with a thicker, haunting distortion to them. The bass is deep, suiting the empty tone of the music well, and building up the sense of darkness and hopelessness. The vocals have a slight echo effect that helps to make the effort sound as though it were an entity standing alone in a never ending room with no lights or walls thanks to the enthusiastic harsher harmonizations utilized. The drums carry a similar echo to them, but only slightly. The cymbals crash loudly and commanding when struck, offering up a crisp clarity that adds a hint of contrast to the bludgeoning and dark performances that benefit from the low, rich snares and pounding bass kicks with a subtle enough click that it comes through over even the most intense of passages.

Paradise Lost mix together Gothic Rock and Doom Metal a lot here, never really getting too intense or fast paced. While it isn’t a bad idea, it often just doesn’t work out too well. “Solitary One” opens up with some ominous sounding riffs full of slow paced Doom Metal heaviness, and some melodic chords on a darker spectrum. The vocals have a much harsher, commanding tone to them while being harmonized, and the distant, haunting clean singing that appear in the chorus sound great with the atmosphere the subtle keyboard notes put together. Unfortunately, while it’s not bad, the song itself just isn’t the most impressive, and while holding a melancholic tone to it, you can’t help but wish the singing had been utilized throughout instead of just two lines in one spot. This makes for a stark contrast to “Theories from Another World,” which takes the band into an aggressive and faster pace. The drumming fills the music and immediately grabs the listener by the throat with its fangs. The vocals work a lot better here, even when it does slow down in the main verses to push the bass and Doom Metal concepts a little more. The catchy, yet still intimidating and rich chorus immediately becomes memorable, helping to make this one of the best offerings of the album.

There’s never another song that matches the intensity of “Theories from Another World,” but there are others worth checking out. “Fear of Impending Hell” goes at a slower pace, but without putting too much emphasis on atmosphere. The tone of the music is still dark and melancholic like “Solitary One,” but it all flows together better, and doesn’t feel forced to be grim and haunting. The clean singing is expanded on here, and the harsher vocals are a little lighter aside the enthusiastic chorus, which matches the music perfectly. “To the Darkness” carries a bit of an epic vibe that comes off as an infectious, yet forlorn march from victory. The rhythm instantly will have you banging your head along, and the subtle energy found in this performance mixed with a dismal sense to the chords really stands out. There’s also “Worth Fighting For,” which will instantly transport listeners into a grim version of eighties Rock, heavily dominated by a pounding drum performance that establishes a bit of a ritualistic environment to the music. The guitars and bass are kept to an extreme minimum, only to weave a heavy, imminant onset of negativity that works with the Doom Metal influences. This easily makes for one of the most unique experiences, casting a bit of a Type O Negative shadow on the group as well.

Tragic Idol is another solid effort from Paradise Lost that varies in style from throughout their career. The atmosphere really stands out rich on every track, and a few unique offerings really keep the diversity alive among the stronger offerings, and the few that could have been a little better. The biggest drawback here is that the vocals sometimes go a little too far with the harsher tones, having some songs that would have greatly benefitted from a cleaner performance. But, fans of Paradise Lost will in no way be discouraged. It’s sad that there’s really only one enthusiastic, faster cut on here to show off how rich the atmosphere and tighter material can get, but the variety throughout more than makes up for it. If you’re into melancholic or generally dark and haunting music with a swift kick in the ass readily available, then Tragic Idol is a recording worth keeping an eye out for.

01. Solitary One – 4:08
02. Crucify – 4:08
03. Fear of Impending Hell – 5:25
04. Honesty in Death – 4:08
05. Theories from Another World – 5:02
06. In This We Dwell – 3:55
07. To the Darkness – 5:09
08. Tragic Idol – 4:35
09. Worth Fighting For – 4:12
10. The Glorious End – 5:23
Overall Score: 8/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Century Media Records.