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Paradise Lost - Obsidian review

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Band: Paradise Lost
Album: Obsidian
Release date: May 2020

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 [digipak bonus]
11. Defiler [digipak bonus]

I am going to throw this out there and this may seem shocking to some, but I find it very hard to look for an album that I really love from Paradise Lost. I've always had more admiration for their death-doom era in which they not only pioneered but also became the pioneers of gothic metal with their second album Gothic. Even with Draconian Times, I don't necessarily like every song off that album and have my share of criticisms about the album, which is odd. There's no doubt that album is one of the most influential gothic metal albums, but I expected something phenomenal. Then I listen to an album like Obsidian where I finally say to myself: "Finally, a Paradise Lost album that I love inside and out."

With Obsidian, Paradise Lost return to their roots for the second time, only this time they are revisiting their past sound of Icon and Draconian Times combined with the already combined roots of their death-doom era. The result is not only one of their most fantastic albums in recent years, but this actually becomes my favorite Paradise Lost album. For the longest time, I have been in a tug of war of calling this album or Draconian's latest release my album of the year. Nonetheless, Paradise Lost made an exceptionally fantastic album that got me hooked from beginning to end.

Compared to the band's previous music, Obsidian's music is depressing in atmosphere and in musical structure. It has that brilliant combination of melodic melancholic quietness with the already heavy death-doom aggression. "Darker Thoughts" is a great example of said details. It begins with that beautiful acoustic sound and Nick Holmes's velvet clean vocals, then transitions nicely to that heavy dynamic change that captured my attention. Every moment of the ghost-like vocals and their creative structure felt like an empowering moment. With the aforementioned influence of their previous album Draconian Times, this album is more melancholic compared to those albums I've listened to. With a lot of the chorus sounds being the driving force of the guitar, this adds another layer of atmosphere that has been lost within the band. Another big highlight is "The Devil Embraced", which pretty much defines why Paradise Lost are the pioneers of gothic metal. They were able to combine the depressing keyboards with the typical guitar structure and Nick Holmes's phenomenal performance. Overall, the music is fantastic. There was nothing that left me feeling dull, which was something that the band's last two albums made me feel despite being solid releases.

I know I've mentioned Nick Holmes's performance in my previous paragraph, but at age 49, he makes the best of his vocals and doesn't disappoint. This is the third album where Holmes returns to his death-doom growls, but something about the performance made me impressed compared to the last two albums. There was more melancholy and pain, and with how his clean vocals sounded throughout the album there is also a lot of variety. It felt less tired, and therefore the attention was shown on how far Nick Holmes has gone as a vocalist and he has managed to impress me with his performance on Obsidian.

The lyrics continue where they left off with the last two albums, and it never lets up. Obsidian has that level of hopelessness and death to make for a dark album, but a lot of gothic horror influences are all over the lyrics. For the most part, lyrics have been consistently containing lines that become infectiously catchy and memorable ("Darker Thoughts", "Ghosts", "Ravenghast") even if at a few moments it can lean towards simple ("Hope Dies Young").

Obsidian was one of the big highlights from a year that has had one bad crisis after another. Even if Draconian's recent album has the edge of being my album of the year, this album solidifies as my favorite Paradise Lost album. It may sound strange coming from me, but it was something I never felt with a lot of the band's gothic metal era of their career. It grabbed my attention, it had one phenomenal song after another, and it's something I'll never forget.

Written by Gothic Metalhead | 01.02.2021

Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

Staff review by
I cannot be very objective with Paradise Lost. It's not just the fact that I grew up with their records, but also that they themselves grew up digging the same music that I did when I was younger.

published 11.05.2020 | Comments (35)


Comments: 2   Visited by: 33 users
08.02.2021 - 00:41
Rating: 9

Both Draconian and Paradise Lost latest efforts are stellar! In my opinion, they have delivered THE BEST records so far. Such a bittersweet swansong for somewhat dying genre!
08.02.2021 - 05:45
Rating: 9
Gothic Metalhead
Pro Introvert
Written by Jeeers on 08.02.2021 at 00:41

Both Draconian and Paradise Lost latest efforts are stellar! In my opinion, they have delivered THE BEST records so far. Such a bittersweet swansong for somewhat dying genre!

It ain't dead just yet. It still has some flickers of hope left.

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