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Paradise Lost – Obsidian review

Label: Nuclear Blast

Release date: Out Now

Band members:-

Nick Holmes, – Vocals,
Gregor Mackintosh, – Lead guitar, Keyboards,
Aaron Aedy, – Rhythm Guitar,
Stephen Edmondson, – Bass Guitar,
Waltteri Väyrynen, – Drums,

Track-listing:-

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

Just when you thought 2020 could not be more miserable….

After celebrating, or indeed, commiserating 30 years of their doom and death metal career, Paradise Lost, have decided to flip direction with their 16th release. This their second via Nuclear Blast records, will be a bunch of cheery pop songs.

Clearly not!

The release of Medusa in 2017, to great critical and fan acclaim, and in their own words, ‘their heaviest album’ to date. Now to ‘Obsidian’ which Nick Holmes describes as ‘one of our most eclectic albums we have done in some time. We have miserable songs, sad songs, slow songs and faster songs. Did I mention miserable?’

‘Darker Thoughts’ kicks us off with a very doomy introduction with dark, brooding lyrics accompanied by a string section. When the guitars and rhythm section kick in just before two minutes into the track, the hairs on the back of your neck immediately stand to attention. This is certainly very atmospheric and very in keeping with the ‘Paradise Lost’ sound.

‘Fall From Grace’, the first single premiered from ‘Obsidian’, released on March 20th, is a very deliberate, pounding, miserable song. Nick Holmes seamlessly changing his vocal style throughout, sweeping from the haunting chorus through to emotive death growls. The guitar solo by Greg Mackintosh, similarly capturing the feeling of misery.

‘Ghosts’ then quickens up the pace a little with a more straight ahead metal sound. Wallteri Vayrynen certainly earning his salt on tune, the kick drum introduction and Edmondson’s pounding bass rhythms lead perfectly into the guitarists interplay. Certainly, Vayrynen has the chance to showcase his inestimable talents on this song and this only lends itself to being a killer track.

‘The Devil Embraced’ begins with a clean vocal, before Holmes unleashes the brutal death howl for the chorus. This progressively gets heavier and heavier through the tune. Another beautifully constructed moment on this album and only four tracks in.

‘Forsaken’ has all the hallmarks of something that the sorely missed Peter Steele of ‘Type O Negative’ could have easily put his name to. Mackintosh has his turn in the limelight with a smashing solo, his fingers dancing over the frets dexterously.

‘Serenity’ continues the album with another beastly metal tune. Paradise Lost exploring the dynamics exquisitely knowing when to exacerbate the effects of these changes of tempo and style.

‘Ending Days’ is another example of the eclectic approach to the music on this album. There is a welcome mix of styles on this track. Everything seems in keeping with the sound that they have thoughtfully constructed through their career and it is nice to hear.

The penultimate exercise in misery, ‘Hope Dies Young’, a straightforward metal sounding tune and ‘Ravenghast’ finishing the album off in superbly Paradise Lost fashion combining all the elements of doom and death that made them notorious in the first instance.

After 30 plus years, and this, their 16th album, you might think it difficult for Paradise Lost to keep a fresh sound to their music. Whilst this might not be their heaviest effort, there is certainly enough on here to suggest that they are still enjoying creating miserable music. That said, this album offers plenty and there are many moments that can be considered very worthy when stacked up against their back catalogue. The music is thoughtfully crafted and gives each musician a chance to display their talents without ever getting egotistical. I thoroughly enjoyed this album as it was very amenable and the mixture of styles were in keeping with their hallmark sound.

SCORE: 10 out of 10

REVIEWER: Stefan Putwain

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