Paradise Lost - Obsidian
Nuclear Blast
Gothic Doom
11 songs (55:54)
Release year: 2020
Paradise Lost, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

Coming back after 2017's very good Medusa, British gothic doom stalwarts Paradise Lost continue the run of excellence they've been on for the last ten to fifteen years. It's immediately clear that this is a less heavy album than Medusa from the increased use of clean singing, and it will take more listens to reveal its secrets but Obsidian is packed full of the tremendous songwriting and gloomy atmosphere that makes the Yorkshiremen (and Finnish drummer Waltteri Väyrynen) such a pleasure to listen to. Fall from Grace was an excellent first single, with all the band's usual touchstones on show; slab-like riffs, gothic melody, despairing clean vocals that somehow work as hooks and contrast nicely with the dry growls from the typically superb Nick Holmes. What's most interesting is where the band stray from their usual style without being outlandish, such as Ghosts with its Sisters of Mercy overtones, stretching a little to allow some of the more danceable elements that Paradise Lost experimented with in the past without going full Depeche Mode.

It works remarkably well, the 80s goth influences a contrast to the more doom/death direction of recent years but suiting the band's core sound well and allowing them to keep things fresh. And it fits in perfectly with the rest of the album despite the more varied approach, making it a rich and interesting listen. Opener Darker Thoughts begins with a lengthy acoustic section with some backing violins, making the explosion of guitars all the heavier, and moments like the church organs in The Devil Embraced are delightful subtle touches that enhance the atmosphere all the more. Of course, the band's base is strong with guitarists Gregor Mackintosh and Aaron Aedy having a delicious selection of riffs and some unusually terrific soloing - not something that Paradise Lost were always known for, despite the duo being a part of the band since formation. Yet you can hear their solid contribution towards this album throughout, a strength that sister bands (My Dying Bride as most obvious example) have lacked with their various comings and goings of members.

Drummers were always Paradise Lost's weak point, the band going through various over the years including Jeff Singer (now in My Dying Bride) and journeyman Adrian Erlandsson, yet Waltteri Väyrynen performs as strongly here as he did on Medusa, if rarely taking the spotlight over the guitars and vocals. Having the guitars as the highlight is not at all disappointing however, particularly given such highlights as that weaving, winding riff that flows through Ending Days, more violin adding much; it's not an instrument that's thought of often with Paradise Lost, but is certainly an enhancement to their sound in a way that's very different to My Dying Bride's frequent usage. The variety on show with more textural playing in Hope Dies Young and more doom-y rumblings on crushing finale Ravenghast, which dips back into doom-death territory and does so very compellingly, is terrific not least because it's obviously all the work of the same guitarists and Mackintosh has one of the greatest guitar tones in metal, enhanced here with an expertly clean if not remotely plastic production. Hell, even the two bonus tracks are excellent, more than good enough to warrant main album inclusion, although Ravenghast does finish the album off so well that you can understand the band's thinking. Truly great work from a band that has varied in quality over the years but are always worth hearing from, and Obsidian is another superb listen.

Killing Songs :
Fall from Grace, The Devil Embraced, Ending Days, Ravenghast
Goat quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Paradise Lost that we have reviewed:
Paradise Lost - Medusa reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Paradise Lost - The Plague Within reviewed by Joel and quoted 92 / 100
Paradise Lost - Tragic Idol reviewed by Khelek and quoted 85 / 100
Paradise Lost - Faith Divides Us - Death Unites Us reviewed by Charles and quoted 75 / 100
Paradise Lost - In Requiem reviewed by Crims and quoted 79 / 100
To see all 13 reviews click here
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