Paradise Lost

Tragic Idol

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Released in 2012, Tragic Idol is Paradise Lost's 13th studio album, and fourth since re-embracing heavy metal as their guiding light, to the delight of most fans, pundits, and, one would guess, the record labels, tour promoters, and other music business entities picking up the tab. In fact, with each passing year, the group's mid-career deep dive into electronica (roughly between 1997's One Second and 2002's Symbol of Life) feels like less of a big deal and more of a bemusing, almost necessary lost weekend -- not to mention a useful argument with which to rebuff anyone who would dare suggest PL are resting on their laurels when they're really just giving fans exactly what they clamored for. All this bears addressing because Tragic Idol, with its newly penned catalog of sublime paeans to misery, both woeful and willful, is essentially part two of 1993's watershed Icon LP, aesthetically speaking: it's really nothing new under the sun, but just what the Devil ordered, by and large. Familiarly, it's Gregor MacKintosh's irresistibly morbid melodies that pave the road traveled by his and rhythm guitarist's Aaron Aedy's deliberate, down-tuned riffs, as seen on striking examples like "Solitary One," "Honesty in Death," and the title track. And while the tempos provided by new drummer Adrian Erlandsson (of At the Gates fame, and recently featured in MacKintosh's Vallenfyre side project) often cruise past traditional doom speed limits on "Theories from Another World," "In This We Dwell," and "To the Darkness," they hardly hint at the speed metal engines rumbling under the hood. For his part, frontman Nick Holmes steers well clear of death growls all the way through, but notably revives some of the lyrically dark themes of old with forceful emotional distress (e.g. "Crucify," "Fear of Impending Hell," "The Glorious End," etc.) before allowing a few uplifting rays of hope to shine through for album standout "Worth Fighting For." In sum, the formula may be all too recognizable, but Paradise Lost show no signs of exhausting their ability to craft compelling new material with it on Tragic Idol -- so what more could fans really ask for?

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