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.
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.