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Here we have the album that many long-time Paradise Lost fans have been waiting years for; a return to their epically melancholic beauty and doom stylistics that haven't been heard so prevalent on one of their albums since 'Icon' and 'Draconian Times'. Personally, I've enjoyed their musical progression over the years (and, yes, including 'Host', for which I'm undoubtedly in a minority) but those who've paid attention to their past couple of releases would've noticed the early to mid-nineties Paradise Lost sound creeping back into their compositions. But, here, their doomier sound of yore is presented in all its unrepressed glory. That said, it's still a progression in their sound despite the evident regression at work too. They haven't remade 'Draconian Times', nor have they set out to do so, rather 'Tragic Idol' just has prominent stylistic nods towards their style of yore. And when I say "doomy", that doesn't exclusively allude to down-tempo compositions (of which there are some, notably opener 'Solitary One') but the mid-tempo and even up-tempo numbers carry a doomy vibe with them in terms of the general feel of the songs. The fact that the album is thematically saturated with death and other mortality-related abjections further emphasises the melancholically doomy essence of tracks although, rather paradoxically, it's all such great fun. And that's something Paradise Lost have always had a good aptitude for - ie. the paradox of uplifting doom. I guess this is helped by offsetting some of the down-tempo parts with mid-up-tempo passages ('To the Darkness' and 'Theories From Another World' being prime examples). Further, gone are the orchestrations and keyboards from last album 'Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us' - instead, it's the guitars here which carry the melodies in instrumentations and rhythm/lead have been cleverly layered to achieve an epic feel to the music without the reliance on keyboards. Again, this relates back to their early-mid nineties sound. As for the vocals, Nick Holmes has delivered some of his best ever vocals. Predominantly gruff in style, he weaves melody lines into the instrumentations with an affective passion. Oh, and Jens Bogren's production - the second time he's worked with the band (for a studio album at least) - is top-notch. Recorded in Lincolnshire's famous Chapel Studios it has that beautifully warm and natural sound that so many bands seem to attain from working there. All in all, 'Tragic Idol' is simply amazing.
Century Media
Review by Mark Holmes
23rd April 2012
1) Solitary One
2) Crucify
3) Fear of Impending Hell
4) Honesty in Death
5) Theories From Another World
6) In This We Dwell
7) To the Darkness
8) Tragic Idol
9) Worth Fighting For
10) The Glorious End
"Here we have the album that many long-time Paradise Lost fans have been waiting years for..."