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Paradise Lost - Obsidian (2020) - Review

Band: Paradise Lost
Album title: Obsidian
Release date: 15 May 2020
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Genre: Gothic Metal, Doom Metal, Death Metal, Gothic Rock

Tracklist:
01. Darker Thoughts    
02. Fall From Grace    
03. Ghosts    
04. The Devil Embraced    
05. Forsaken    
06. Serenity    
07. Ending Days    
08. Hope Dies Young    
09. Ravenghast    
10. Hear The Night [Bonus]    
11. Defiler [Bonus]

As they already march through their fourth decade as a band, Paradise Lost, the true veterans and pioneers of everything what is dark and gloomy in metal, are giving us their sixteenth album, fitly due to its content named Obsidian. The British quintet seems to not give up easily doing the haunting, reflective, dark and what's most important highly creative music. Three years after the murky, atmospheric but devastating Medusa, Paradise Lost return with one of the most diverse albums they did in the past decade, and not only that, Paradise Lost, who refuse to be pinned down to one easily defined formula, eschew its immediate predecessors’ gruesome, myopic approach in favour of a richer and more dynamic deluge of black shades.

The band which just like a phoenix returns every time with something that captivates its fans in a new yet marvelous ways, these five musicians, revered figureheads for several generations of gloomy metalheads, created one hell of an elegant, deeply melancholic, rich and dynamic doom/gothic/death metal album that often goes over the borders with its magnificent implementation of several elements from other musical styles. They are in control of everything, and even though that the flow is not really like it was in the mid 90s, Paradise Lost are still full of creative energy that pushes this specific gloomy metal style forward mo matter what.

Doom metal is the key, but it comes with plenty of classical orchestrations, gothic rock driven guitars, atmospheric parts, melancholic darkwave elements, some refined driving pathos and out of this world crushing rhythms that are in perfect symbiosis with Nick Holmes' diverse vocals and always meaningful dark broody lyrics. Nick's singing, let it be for impressive filled with sadness clean vocals, or rather flat but efficient harsh ones, is in my opinion better than on previous two albums, or at least it fits better into the whole sonic picture, yes of course, he's not the same Nick as he was on Gothic, Icon or Draconian Times, but he does it well. Greg Mackintosh is a guitar master, a hero who perfectly manages how to make his legendary trademark leads go ahead with devastating melodic, sometimes almost crawling riffs in such a marvelous way. The rhythmic line is perfect, and the young drummer Waltteri Väyrynen proves that he was the right choice to sit behind the drum set.

It's difficult to compare Obsidian with any of previous Paradise Lost albums, but the way choosen in 2015 on The Plague Within and then continued on Medusa in 2017 is still somehow dominant here, that's perfectly heard in tracks like "Fall From Grace", "Serenity", in the dark maelstrom "Ravenghast" and in the two bonus tracks "Hear The Night" and in the baroque doomy piece named "Defiler", to name some. Those of you who enjoyed in the tracks like "The Longest Winter" or "Medusa" will find a lot for themselves also on Obsidian. In a way here can be found many stylistical similarities also with the most atmospheric side of Gothic album, also with Shades Of God and Icon, and to be certain as well with the most melancholic side of controversial One Second, Host and Believe In Nothing, not musically speaking of course, but in a sense of emotion and mood. Actually here's something from every era of the band to be found. There's often present this dual emotive atmosphere, like for example in the mesmerizing opener "Darker Thoughts", in the crushing "Fall From Grace" or "The Devil Embraced".

It's amazing also how Paradise Lost use typical 80s goth rock elements quite often, and mix them with such an elegance with a more tumultuous doomy metal, most notable in one of the albums highlights "Ghosts", which is an interesting groovy dancefloor-filler for which I won't be surprised if it'll be used in any of still existing goth clubs. As well Nick offers one of the most amazing vocal lines ever right here. The overall positive impressions lasts with the catchy driver "Forsaken", which is just like if been taken off from Tragic Idol, and the deeply melancholic "Ending Days", with such a beautiful guitar solo and enthusing string arrangements, and absolutely I can't skip to mention the evocative darkness and beauty of "Hope Dies Young".

Obsidian is one of the darkest and maybe the most melancholic album Paradise Lost ever released. It's a rich and emotionally dense sonic adventure for those who want to explore darkness in its most lush way that the metal music can offer. Powered by a lust for creativity and a stout devotion to haunting heaviness, Paradise Lost did it once again to offer one hell of an enthusing dark sonic journey that needs your full devotion. Yes, fans of the band don't need to fear Obsidian’s diverse approach, contrary, with it Paradise Lost just prove that their creativity is still in ascension. The masters of doom and gloom are back, they reign in this musical universe!

Review written by: Tomaz
Rating: 9/10

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