Maturing like a fine claret, Paradise Lost have been on increasingly commanding form in recent years. Their last album, The Plague Within, was ecstatically received, not least due to its sheer, gruesome heaviness and the band’s obvious reconnection with their doom roots, and to a certain extent Medusa is simply more of the same. Only slower and heavier. Opener Fearless Skies is an instant classic: as mournful and deftly melodic as any of the band’s older anthems, but vastly heavier and, midway through, as close to outright Sabbath worship as this band have ever strayed. Gods Of Ancient is similarly endowed with low-slung menace, Greg Mackintosh’s churning riffs bearing a passing resemblance to hallowed past glories but, in truth, Paradise Lost have never sounded this intense or devastating before. Both From The Gallows and Blood & Chaos are beautifully succinct and blessed with irresistible melodic hooks, while the title track is slow, vicious and terrifying enough to give its titular anti-heroine nightmares. The closing Until The Grave provides a devastating denouement, with Nick Holmes sounding simultaneously possessed and bereft as yet more crippling riffs drag us down the devil’s plughole.
Released almost concurrently with a 20th anniversary reissue of the polarising One Second, Medusa is much closer in spirit to that mid-90s curveball than cynics may imagine: this is still the sound of noble veterans driving the dark heart of their music forwards and onto new terrain. It’s just that a dark and scary world needs music that speaks the truth about mankind’s accursed frailty. Few do it better, or with more monstrous power, than this.