CD Review: “The Plague Within” by Paradise Lost

Three years have passed since British doom metal masters Paradise Lost released the excellent Tragic Idol. The group’s newest release, The Plague Within, shows the band returning to its death metal roots. The dreary “No Hope in Sight” features growling vocals, which were absent on Tragic Idol. The song is a crunching piece of melancholy that will surely become a fan favorite. The driving “Terminal” pounds along like an army marching to war. The goth tinged “An Eternity of Lies” is another standout track with its symphonic introduction and baroque structure. The piano, violins and guitar are beautifully arranged to create a powerful emotion of sadness and isolation. The grooving “Punishment Through Time” is pure serpentine sludge reminiscent of Black Sabbath. Another notable track is “Sacrifice the Flame,” an appropriate title for this dirge.

 

The production is good, compliments of Jaime Arellano. Arellano gives the album a Nineties feel with a contemporary flavor. One can listen to this album and there is a feeling of mid-Nineties Century Media or Earache. However, the sound is not muffled and very clear. While I am partially biased to the production of Tragic Idol, I think the sound on Plague Within perfectly fits the heavy gloominess of the album.

The Plague Within is another awesome record by one of the U.K.’s best bands. The band did not emulate Tragic Idol and instead went in another direction, which is why this album is so good. It is also why Paradise Lost has longevity because of the band’s willingness to take chances and not make the same record. I highly recommend buying this record.

For more information on the band, visit http://www.paradiselost.co.uk/

CD Review: ‘ExtermiNation’ by Raven

You cannot keep a good metal band down. Raven had a fairly strong following during the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. The group’s influence was so great that Metallica opened for the group in 1983. The latter subsequently eclipsed Raven in both influence and popularity, however Raven continues to tour and release music. The band’s 13th release, ExtermiNation, is a fun record that encapsulates the good times of early Eighties metal. The opening track “Destroy All Monsters” features the intricate riffs and punk drumming from the NWOBHM era. It is a no frills headbanger with a sci-fi twist. The track “Tomorrow” is a driving mid-tempo tune with crunching, guttural riffs. It is easily one of the best songs on the record. The self-tribute of “Fight” is an homage to the band, heavy metal and life on the road. The band certainly deserves a pat on the back for enduring for over 40 years. Then there is the uncompromising “Battle March Tank Treads.” The aggressive riffs and double bass advance like a battalion, laying waste to all in sight.

The production on this record is solid. ExtermiNation is not overproduced and retains a vintage sound without sounding cheesy. The adage “keep it simple” is in full effect as the instruments do not drown each other. The energy of the band is loud and clear, making the album all the more enjoyable. The sole issue I have with ExtermiNation is the length. The album features 14 songs (15 including the bonus track), which can cause the record to drag. I commend the band for giving fans their money’s worth, however the record would still rock with 10 or 11 tracks.

ExtermiNation is a fun metal record with all the conventions that made the NWOBHM so exciting. The band has not lost its step in 41 years and continues to pump out hard hitting tunes. Highly recommended for anyone that just wants to rock.