Paradise Lost continues their late career resurgence with The Plague Within. Its precursor – 2012’s Tragic Idol – successfully harkened back to their biggest seller, 1995’s Draconian Times, with easily digestible choruses and melodies galore, but this is a somber, jagged work that most closely resembled their 1994 effort, Icon.
Like Icon, The Plague Within offers enough catchy bits to burrow into your brain, but offsets them with less friendly arrangements and overall feeling of misery. Draconian/Tragic are uptempo (for Paradise Lost, at least) and driving. Icon/Plague wallow in their miseries, separated by 23 years but connected by their adventurousness. This is a big, slick album sonically but the tunes are rough in a very good way, often leaving you unsettled by some unexpected twist or jarring transition.
Special mention should be made of Zbigniew M. Bielak’s exquisite cover art, of which you can buy a print at Graphic Noise.
Gorgeous matte finish gatefold, heavy duty everything and very tastefully designed. Like the three albums preceding it, no expense was spared in making this a beautiful thing to have, hold and listen to. Highly recommended.