In the studio: Paradise Lost
“It could be a bit of a Marmite album,” notes a sage Greg Mackintosh of the Yorkshire metallers’ looming 14th opus. “Sometimes, it’s nice to do albums that are expected, in a way, but for a career like ours it’s important to do certain records and songs where you try something else.”
The band’s bravest risks have often reaped creative rewards; whether through their own bleakly ethereal take on death metal with 1991’s, aptly-titled Gothic, or leaving metal to enter a more Depechian Mode in the late 90s with One Second and Host, a strong sense of versatility and the melodic has always lit their dark road.
Now, following a glorious run through the heavier realms of metal in recent years, the band’s going full-bore into extremes.
Ebb and flow
“A certain track, like Flesh From Bone, is probably the fastest song we’ve done tempo-wise,” reveals Greg, “while Beneath Broken Earth is quite possibly the slowest.”
But we’re not just talking tempos here.
“We weren’t shying away from any period,” says Greg of The Plague Within’s writing process. “But it also had to be cohesive.
"As it came together, the death metal elements became more prevalent, so the album ended up with more of those elements than we’d first anticipated. But it’s got a good ebb and flow to it.”
Producer Jaime Gomez Arellano brought vintage gear and pedal chain suggestions to the table at his London Orgone Studios, but Greg had his own ideas about how to make his and rhythm guitarist Aaron Aedy’s sound distinct from some of the homogenised high-gain tones found on other contemporary metal records.
“We set up two completely guitar stack systems and run them through together as one guitar sound,” Greg explains.
“So we had one sludgy, retro sound, like an old Sabbath-y sound going into an old Marshall with an Orange cab and an old Boss Hyper Fuzz and the Vox V810 [overdrive] on it. Then we had a [EVH/Peavey] 5150 set up, with a pedal by Nine Of Swords called Funeral Party.
"It’s a really great simple old-school distortion pedal, along the lines of the early Slayer sound. You add a bit of that onto a 5150 and you’ve got a really great classic metal sound. We blended the two to get this unique guitar sound.”
The new approaches extended to Greg and Aaron’s dynamic for this record.
“We tried to blur the line between the sound of the harmony guitars and the rhythms. We wanted to blend it together more, and we took it section by section.
"We decided which part our style would suit best. It was an interesting way of working that we hadn’t done before, more constructive.”
Whatever fans make of The Plague Within, Greg hopes its tones uphold the band’s reputation for standing alone in the scene.
“We deliberately went down a different route, where we want it to sound like no one else in metal. Whether we've achieved that, I have no idea until everyone hears it.”
The Plague Within will be released through CenturyMedia on 1 June