Gothic metal. A genre perpetually stuck between the trendy and effeminate. Thank god Paradise Lost have come to save us, because the moment album opener 'As Horizons End' gets underway, you just know these five Britons have cast their spell once more, seducing your ears with bleeding licks and the ever present awesome/gloomy/epic moods that permeates every note they play. What's more surprising is the songs here don't start to suck past a great opener, undeniable proof that for a band who've never strayed from their artistic vision, reaching your twelfth album in no way drains creativity. In fact, the quality inside this twelfth opus, from a quintet that has all but owned the gothic genre in Europe, is so impressive that 'Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us' deserves credit as one of this year's better releases.
While the tempos occasionally speed up, nothing here escapes the shadow of gloom that so completely colors the band's take on heavy metal, one that's been evolving toward a darker direction since the late 80's. Frontman Nick Holmes' vocals are as reliable as ever, even when he does tend to sound like an emotionally fragile James Hetfield. The guitars between the Mackintosh/Aedy tandem stay away from virtuosic excess but are nonetheless masterfully worked to provide the perfect riff, the perfect solo, the perfect ounce of drama. The rhythm section aren't slouches either, because the entirety of 'Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us' is rife with melody. That's a great album title as well, with cover art that's almost a sequel to Machinehead's 'The Blackening.'
Curbing the cheesy praise now, the songs here do feel rather thin sometimes, as if there wasn't enough inspiration behind them to evoke power. However, why take this reviewer's word seriously? Go right ahead and sink thine teeth onto this somber slab of tear-jerking musicality. Be it on the contemplative 'I Remain' or the self-flagellating numbers 'Living with Scars' and 'Last Regret,' there's little here that fails one's expectations for a breathtaking listening experience. 'Universal Dream,' 'In Truth,' 'First Light' will have you dancing along to their soulful nuances, compelling thee to lurk in deserted graveyards and empty churches. Okay, so Paradise Lost's best work is allegedly behind them and 'Faith Divides Us...' inspires strange behavior. Nevertheless, this album still owns.
The quality inside this twelfth opus, from a quintet that has all but owned the gothic genre in Europe, is so impressive that 'Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us' deserves credit as one of this year's better releases.
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