Paradise Lost have harnessed a truly irresistible formula; over the course of 13 albums they’ve managed to grow a sound that captures the desolation and gloom of their subject matter whilst also making it insatiably catchy. Tragic Idol is the epitome of their craft; it is an album groaning with dark and heavy imagery but also one that maintains such an accessible side that it almost veers into the mainstream.
There is an overworked concept that fans of Paradise Lost shout for, and that’s a return to the sound forged on albums like Draconian Times and Icon, records from their backcatalogue that are now considered to be ‘classics.’ Whilst a retrospective look back to these albums wouldn’t be unwelcome, returning to a sound that was created nearly twenty years ago would only serve to dampen one of the great things about the band; Paradise Lost has always been willing to push forward, whether it’s in terms of their sheer output or in regards to adapting their sound (even if some adaptations have been less enjoyable than others). Tragic Idol retains Paradise Lost’s thirst for progress and sees a sharpening of the sprawling Faith Divides Us – Death Unites Us into a much more direct and immediate beast.
Of course, this wouldn’t be Paradise Lost if it weren’t an album filled with huge, desolate landscapes carved out of ash and bone. Album opener Solitary One, for example, is engorged with pathos from its dark guitar tone and bleak piano keys that makes for unsettling jarring listen. Aside from this being a record groaning with rich, gloom-laden settings, the most interesting thing about Tragic Idol is that it’s almost instantly accessible; Fear of Impending Hell incorporates Nick Holmes’ clean vocals and slings them over eerie guitars that eventually roll into this huge, encapsulating chorus. On top of this, it has one of the most memorable solos to come out of PL’s rich discography. Other songs like the ravenous Theories From Another World pick up the pace, and bleed out twisted, dark fantasies that echo the endless menace of every kind of hell.
There is so much to take on board with Tragic Idol, and yet, it’s almost instantaneously gratifying. The vastness of this task, in that Paradise Lost are still creating records that can sound energetic and relevant, whilst remaining true to their essence, is just astounding. Easily one of the best albums of the year so far.
Top Tracks: Fear of Impending Hell, Tragic Idol
For fans of: My Dying Bride, Type O Negative
Written By David Keevill