Being one of the originators of the gothic metal genre as well as one of the big three of British doom (along with Anathema and My Dying Bride) has always meant that a new album by Paradise Lost is a big event in metal. The band, as we painfully remember, has gone through some strange artistic and musical periods (Host and Believe In Nothing being the most confusing), but it can’t be denied that for the last 13 years since In Requiem, they have regained their fans’ trust.
For me personally, the decision to reintroduce the growling death metal style of singing in the last two albums was not necessary and I have always viewed it as a little bit too forced attempt at a “back to the roots” mood. However, the music itself was really good. Obsidian will be released on May 15th on the band’s insistence to not push back the release date, which is a bit cruel to us all – who needs even more depression and misery when we’ve had enough already. Black humour aside, this 9-song new album is a step in the direction I thought was logical. The styles of singing of Mr. Holmes are now split evenly between extreme growls and clean vocals, which adds a lot more dimension to most of the songs. There aren’t a lot of surprises here, apart from the hint of dance-floor gothic friendliness in Ghosts. As I mentioned, the album sounds more varied and closer in spirit to Tragic Idol, instead of The Plague Within. There is a pronounced attempt to push forward a more accessible sound, with a lot more catchy melodies and memorable choruses. Darker Thoughts, Forsaken and especially Ending Days are great examples for that. On the other hand, first single Fall From Grace and the crushing closer Ravenghast are not only among the heaviest music in the album, but their effect on the listener is further enhanced by the melodic balance achieved elsewhere in the album.
With the risk of repeating myself, the leads of Greg Mackintosh are much more melodic and memorable than in the last two albums, which alone results in much better songs overall. Simple as that. Obsidian is the first Paradise Lost album in the last eight years which I want to listen to repeatedly and is easily among the top 5 in the band’s discography. In conclusion, I should encourage you to pre-order the limited edition, which includes two bonus studio tracks and another 10 minutes of new Paradise Lost. Nice!