UK doom legends Paradise Lost remain gothically devastating on great 16th record ‘Obsidian’

It’s admirable when anyone with an impressive resume of work feels no need to rest and soak in their accomplishments and keep pushing their abilities as far as they can go. That’s why metal keeps going and will never stop because no one will ever rest, and we see the bands that have been pillars of the community refuse to ever quit. Fuck yeah.

So, we have a 16th record from doom stronghold Paradise Lost, and of course it’s tremendous. “Obsidian” is a nine-track (11 if you have the version with the bonus cuts) offering that is a step in a different direction from 2017’s “Medusa” but isn’t a departure for the band at all. They keep in place the harsher strains of the past couple records and the spirit of their past, but they also delve more into gothy terrain they’ve traveled all along, making this a sort of best-of-all-worlds album from these all-time greats. The music is wholeheartedly passionate and brimming with emotion, which is the most important part of this. Paradise Lost—vocalist Nick Holmes, guitarists Gregor Mackintosh and Andy Aedy, bassist Stephen Edmonson, drummer Waltteri Väyrynen—have nothing to prove, yet that doesn’t matter. Every time out they deliver the best of themselves at that time, and they do it again here. This is just tremendous.

“Darker Thoughts” opens the record feeling like a folk song that’s promising your doom. “This one-way street you’re on is going to get you killed,” Holmes warns as the track eventually opens up and as strings glaze, the hammers are dropped, and the singing turns to harsh growls as we push through a smashing finish. “Fall From Grace” has guitars warming up and flowing like warm blood before the crunch is delivered. The verses are dressed with growls while the choruses have clean singing, as Holmes repeats, “We’re all alone,” as the leads bubble, and one more bout with the chorus signals the end. “Ghosts” trudges as the guitars drip sludge, while Holmes digs deep into his diaphragm while dispersing his words. This track takes you back to the gothic sorrow of PL’s older days, as a weird, but compelling chorus powers, guitars create soot, and the track backs down a quiet, dark alley. “The Devil Embraced” has organs swimming in the murky sea as guitars and clean singing help color in the edges. “Foolish trust, the devil embraced,” Holmes pokes over the chorus while soloing later explodes and melts flesh. A last trip with the chorus and its pit of despair rounds the song to its final resting spot.

“Forsaken” opens with angelic calls stinging while guitars chug, and Holmes sings through gritted teeth. “Reverence mistaken,” he laments on the chorus, where darkness falls heavier, soloing crushes, and the fiery back end leaves ash behind. “Serenity”  punches in and is noticeably more aggressive as Holmes’ growls menace, and the guitar work twists you into knots. Soloing ruptures while Holmes foresees sorrow “til the last kingdom falls,” as the final moments tear away at your sanity. “Ending Days” has guitars coldly dripping as clean, dreary singing leads you into a cloud as Holmes calls, “Maladjusted, I suffer.” The chorus floods the emotions all over again as Holmes points, “We don’t care til it’s time to die,” as guitars light up in a rage, and the final embers fade out. “Hope Dies Young” has guitars pouring soot and clean singing pulling the heavy shadow over as Holmes calls, “Reaching out in vain, reaching out in some way,” in desperation. The chorus is simple but effective, and the playing scorches layers of flesh off your vulnerable face. “Ravenghast” closes the album and starts with a flood of eeriness as keys rush in and muddy, skull-driving playing gets going. “Your eternal kingdom dead,” Holmes booms as the ominous feeling crawls up your spine, and the band slowly crushes you. Soloing heats up and round back to darkness as things get sweltering and grim, and the track ends in a gothy haze.

Paradise Lost remain vital, pouring with passion, and as dark and morose as ever on “Obsidian,” their 16th record. This is a good as anything this band has released in the past decade, and the mix of colors from all eras of this band makes for an even richer experience. This band has stood the test of time, inspired generations of disciples, and remain one of the main forces of doom to this day. This record only enhances all of that.

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