Paradise Lost - Obsidian


Band: Paradise Lost
Title: Obsidian
Year: 2020
Country: United Kingdom
Label: Nuclear Blast
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  1. Darker Thoughts
  2. Fall From Grace
  3. Ghosts
  4. The Devil Embraced
  5. Forsaken
  6. Serenity
  7. Ending Days
  8. Hope Dies Young
  9. Ravenghast

You can’t talk about the history of gothic or doom metal without mentioning Paradise Lost, one of the bands that most contributed to defining the sound and iconography of these particular brands of metal between the late ’80s and early ’90s. Since then, Holmes, Mackintosh and their associates have explored the many streams that flowed from that source, even going as far as to reach rock sounds pretty much anything that went through their minds. Their years on Century Media marked in many ways a return to darker sounds, a path that culminated in the death-doom blow Medusa, the first work on Nuclear Blast for the band from Halifax. With Obsidian, Paradise Lost wanted to do something different.

If you want to know more about Nick Holmes’ feelings and Paradise Lost in general, take a look at our interview with the vocalist, but it is clear from the first few seconds of “Darker Thoughts” that Obsidian is on a separate path from Medusa. While the first single “Fall From Grace” could have made us think of another trip into the doomier areas of the band’s sound, here we find ourselves instead in front of a work that brings together various vibes. This feeling is confirmed by “Ghosts”, basically a Paradise Lost reinterpretation of the classic mid-’80s gothic rock sound (if you are thinking of The Sisters Of Mercy, you nailed it).

Obsidian showcases much of the variety that has characterized the quintet’s entire career, some kind of compendium of what Paradise Lost have meant for a couple of subgenres of metal and beyond. The usual, incredible melodies woven by Mackintosh’s guitar stand out on the patterns created by the rhythmic section (with a bass that, loyal to the gothic rock tradition, this time takes more space than usual). Holmes, after pouring a lot of harsh singing in his recent collaborations with Bloodbath and on the previous album, here employs a cleaner vocal style, with a decent amount of variety depending on the songs.

Gothic rock comes back in “Forsaken” as well, while there is something of the classic Paradise Lost gothic-doom in songs like “Ending Days”, but Obsidian closes unexpectedly with the pounding doom song “Ravenghast”. Among other things, the five musicians were once again able to put up an album without any songs that exceed six minutes in length, again demonstrating their great ability to synthesize and the attention to song structures that has always distinguished them from most other bands in this style.

Basically, after several big names like My Dying Bride and Katatonia, 2020 marks another important return for one of the key bands of the dark stuff we like. If you are in the mood to headbang, cry and why not, dance, Obsidian by Paradise Lost is the album for you.