Paradise Lost – Obsidian (2020)

Despite the recent Covid-19 crisis, it is safe to say that there are still great things to look forward to while most of you are stuck in isolation and this latest Paradise Lost effort seems to be one of them.

Not quite the death metal monster that comprised the band’s previous output, Obsidian serves as kind of a “best of” showcase of all the band’s different styles and sounds over the past couple of decades. “Darker Thoughts” seems to balance the band’s thundering death metal side well with it’s more melodic nature, as well as throwing in a fantastic solo effort right towards the end. It’s a great introduction piece to the band, in all actuality. If you’ve never heard Paradise Lost, this is a good place to start.

Next we have the single “Fall From Grace” which seems to play along the same lines, though feels a bit like an outtake from the band’s prior album. I didn’t like it the first time I heard it, but after a couple more listens, I have to admit that it’s grown on me. That being said, there are cuts on this one that I’ve enjoyed far more. “Ghosts” however, sounds more like what I was hoping for as the band’s Goth-tinged mid-era seems largely forgotten by all but me, apparently – but it was A Symbol Of Life that turned me onto these guys and I’m just glad that they are still willing to pursue this style in addition to their praised death metal antics.

It doesn’t end there though, as “The Devil Embraced” seems to meld those Goth efforts with potent death metal, not rolling completely into synths, though still utilizing a few organ synthesizers to keep the mood. There’s also a portion here that I found to be completely pummeling, so be on the lookout for that. “Forsaken” may hearken a bit back to the Draconian Times style which I know was beloved by fans, though it also contains a slight hint of Goth elements here and there as well. It is important to note that although Obsidian contains slivers of all the band’s previous eras, nothing here sounds directly like a song from those eras. Everything here sounds slightly modified, so as not to sound like the band are copying themselves.

“Serenity” comes in next, with some of the best opening riffs I’ve heard from these guys in a while. The guitar element in general is quite potent here, as riff melodies and solos both seem to shine in the way that any metal fan should be pleased about. As showcased in this song, the record also contains a great deal of harsh vocal peppered over nearly every song, but Obsidian is not as slow paced as Medusa was, which I found to be a bit of an issue. The record was a bit too doom metal for it’s own good, though I know there are people who loved it for that.

“Ending Days” feels like a doom-tinted ballad and it doesn’t hit me all that hard in retrospect. I’m sure that people will love it just as much as I dug the large amount of explosive solo injections it contained, but it just wasn’t to taste for me. You’ll probably love this one and think me a fool though.

“Hope Dies Young” brings back the Goth elements for one last time, but I find myself unmoved by this one aside from the solo sections which I find are completely crushing. This has to be the most guitar solo heavy Paradise Lost album I’ve ever heard and I’m not sure how fans will take to that news. The album actually shreds, so prepare yourself for that. The disc actually ends with “Ravenghast” which can be described as a Gothic death metal tune, so of course you’re going to have fun with that. It may as well have been on Gothic, so think of it as a type of fanservice moment.

There are two bonus tracks here as well and I’m not sure how much I am allowed to say about them. However, “Hear The Night” may as well have been on Gothic and it is also comparable to an anime fanservice moment. You’ll want the limited edition just for this one. There’s no “we thought this was a B-Side” excuse here, fellas. This is the kind of song that people actually pay money for. The same can be said about “Defiler” which is just death metal with great solos. If the band, label, manager or someone else involved somehow felt this was a B-Side, then let me know, so that I’ll know who to flog. As a matter of fact, if these songs are not offered on your copy of Obsidian, don’t buy it. This isn’t even a “one good bonus song and some crap at the end” situation. These songs are actually better than some of the songs on the album. Again, let me know who I need to flog, because The Grim Lord has his flogging stick ready.

Aside from all this though, the guys knocked it out of the park and managed to deliver another great album. Some things are opening back up, but I don’t know if record stores are one of them. Even so, you’ll definitely going to want to get your hands on this album. It’s actually kind of a shame that not as many people who would want to get their hands on this album will be able to do so and maybe the band should have a streaming concert for this one, which fans can donate to so that they can at least get some revenue back for the crushing effort that Obsidian is. The record is too good to not support and I honestly hope that it won’t be forgotten just because of the time period in which it was released.

I’m not saying that bands should release bad records during a crisis situation like this, but good records that need support are definitely going to suffer because a lot of people will want to have a physical copy in hand. That being said, you can always order it from Amazon. I ordered a few things recently and they came pretty fast. Again, make sure you get the bonus tracks on the album or you’re going to be upset about it later, I’ve made that mistake before with records.

Update: I’ve done the research and the MP3/Streaming version of the album only comes with those songs. The CD version (according to Amazon) ends with “Ravenghast.” In that sense, it is better to save yourself the trouble and just buy the digital version for those bonus cuts.

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