We begin with “No Hope In Sight” and creatively at least it sets the tone of the record from the very start. It’s a bare minimum riff-laden affair of the bleakest nature…it’s slow, chugging tempo, coupled with Holmes’ mellower vocals allow for a mesmerizingly dreary listen; this is Paradise Lost as we know and love them…a great start. “Terminal” takes things up a notch with a more relentless approach. Drummer Adrian Erlandsson pummels away for the duration, really driving the song forward, whilst Holmes’ revisits vocals harking back to the days of “Gothic”, utilizing deep, demonic growls verging on black metal, they've really gone back to their roots here!
Single “Beneath Broken Earth” is a morbidly brooding number; the slow build, the overall haunting tone of the track and Greg Mackintosh’s chilling guitar playing result in nothing short of a masterclass in musical despair, whilst tracks like “Flesh From The Bone” and “Cry Out” relish in being more hard-rock in nature, particularly the latter, providing ample balance between melancholic and menacing, before we finish up with “Return To The Sun”, another example of a band knowing exactly how to play to their strengths. The track is drawn out and harks back to the days of “Draconian Times” in tone, proving the band still have it in them twenty five years on. All in all, regardless of your preferred genre within rock and metal, you cannot deny the longevity and staying power of Paradise Lost…sure their hopelessly depressing brand of gothic gloom isn’t for everyone, but you have to appreciate the quality and consistency of what they do, especially to produce albums of this quality, 14 albums down the line. “The Plague Within” is a fine return and may it spread far and wide...