A dull thud awakes me from my slumber and I don my heavy metal housecoat and slowly make my sleep addled way down the stairs....what is this that stands before me?
On my Harry Potter welcome mat of doom? Nay, can it be? It is!! It's the new album from Halifax Horrors Paradise Lost!
The local carrion crow must have dropped it through the letterbox as the air is still foul with his scent.
Filled with trepidation and anticipation I gingerly insert the CD into the player.....instantly a cloud descends upon me as the first organ strains (oo-er missus etc..) of Fearless Sky ring out across my living chambers.
Clocking in at eight and a half minutes this song sets the tone for the album, vicious and visceral death rattle vocals from Nick Holmes give way to haunting melodic singing, creating a wonderful contrast and at times brings to mind an 80s electronic vibe.
Special mention goes to new sticksman Waltteri Väyrynen who peppers the album with his off kilter slightly off the beat drumming. He comes from the Bill Ward School of timekeepers and it's this that helps set the boys apart from so many of their peers. In an age where drums are processed and triggered and pro tooled to within an inch of their lives it's refreshing to hear such a thunderously natural drum sound; as if the very gates of Valhalla were collapsing around the hapless listener’s eardrums, particular on Gods of Ancient.
Title track Medusa starts with a filthy bass line from Steve, and the melodic guitars of Arron and Greg dance together creating melancholic and melodic lines, helping to weave a tapestry of classic, epic doom. The production is kept basic, allowing all the instruments to be heard, just like on those classic 70s records, it's all playing and passion instead of polish which, in this current metal climate is an absolute revelation. Cover art by the ever prolific purveyors of doing art Branca Studios is also beautiful; remember when people used to give a shit about artwork? I can't help but feel that Greg Macintosh has had a big hand in this record, the old school vibe that was prevalent on his Valenfyre project seems to have had an influence on this record too, however the sound is unmistakably Paradise Lost, a legendary British band who have never bowed to trends and always forged a unique path, allowing them to create absolute gems such as Medusa. Their best since Draconian Times. If you like it hard, heavy and laden with doom, then this is your album of the year.