Paradise Lost – “Obsidian” (Nuclear Blast)
With “Medusa” widely acknowledged as the band’s heaviest release in 2017, Paradise Lost have, in recent years returned back to the glory days of the 90s through regular releases and also more frequent touring. Since forming in 1988, this milestone English metal band are considered by many to be pioneers of the doom death genre, and equally regarded as the main influence for the later gothic metal movement. As such, it comes as little surprise that this 16th album takes us back to both these styles, as well as stylish fusions of the two that spell out why this band are still top of their game. Still with plenty of Northern misery and gloom, the 9 tracks also feature tons of dark atmosphere and poetic sadness in a variety of mixes and through a range of tempos, making this a diverse album, although unmistakably Paradise Lost in every regard! From the wailing, mournful guitars on ‘Fall From Grace’, Nick Holmes drawls ‘..we’re all alone..’ as haunting harmonies echo ghostly in the background as the song brings its tragedy to your heart, while the more upbeat ‘Ghosts’, with its clanging guitar melodies, heavy bass and horror baritones of ‘…the fire burns deep within this life….for Jesus Christ…’ is a goth rocker straight from the 80s. Not so ‘The Devil Embraced’, which builds its dark atmosphere deceptively in serenity, before erupting massively in the doom death splendor of its heavy powering riffs, wailing melodies and of course, Holmes’s beastly growls – instant possession! With over 3 decades under their belts, the composing and musicianship talent in being able to widen their sphere on ‘Forsaken’ by taking in the very best aspects of goth, doom death and traditional heavy metal on this incredible fusion is nothing short of mind blowing, and even more so in the unforgettable lead guitar work of Greg Mackintosh. Ending in the utter savagery of ‘Ravenghast’, which must rank as one of Paradise Lost’s darkest and heaviest songs (ever) in dealing with death in the final stages of a battle, the sheer morbidity and all consuming deathly emotions viscerally conveyed through Mackintosh’s and Aaron Aedy’s grisly riffs and somber melodies, Holmes’s macabre growls and Waltteri Väyrynen’s intense percussion is a magnificent finale to this stellar album. Unforgettable in every regard, “Obsidian” is dark, black and reflective – an accurate description of the music that Paradise Lost have been playing for over 30 years.