A concept album without the label. A black mass of phantasmagoria. A dreaded message of doom. This triptych of description is what the latest release by the death-doom pioneers Paradise Lost brings with Obsidian. The igneous slab of elegy is an astounding listen from beginning to end. You forget that while bands can be inspired by other bands and mix their own sound, Paradise Lost has a three-decade long recipe boiling in their cauldron which has inspired many bands after them. It is an alchemic recipe that has turned their bleak style of metal into platinum success.
The formation of Obsidian is an impressive display of instrumental and vocal balance. The trap in metal can be bands wanting to outperform each other or merely be a vessel of braggadocio. Paradise Lost utilizes vocally-driven songwriting with many moments of instrumental flourish that serves all the songs’ purposes. It is smart and engaging. Building upon that, they serve the album by guiding us down a path of dark ritual, starting with “Darker Thoughts,” which is a dynamic victory. Nick Holmes narrates a weathered man traveling in empty hills while strings dance above. “This one way street you’re on is going to get you killed” is a warning and also an invitation of the thoughts into the crack of snare and the torrent of brutal roars. Violins intertwine and is an ominous genesis for the rest of Obsidian.
“Fall From Grace” is their first single and video off the album and includes riffs Iommi would headbang too. “Ghosts” is a great change of pace. It starts with stadium-pounding drums, continues with haunting horror chords, and even mentions Jesus Christ. How inclusive. Interestingly enough, it is juxtaposed by “The Devil Embraced” and sounds more like an early intermission where one would take communion at a black altar; church organs included.
Throughout, they keep to the wondrous and gothic tone. It gets a bit dreary in the middle of the album, but is cast back into black with a maliciously evil intro of “Hope Dies Young”, the needle-like piano of “Ravenghast”, and the patient yet wicked “Hear The Night”. Gregor Mackintosh and drummer Waltteri Vayrynen command the storytelling with melodic strength.
“Defiler” is a palette-cleansing ending. You are covered in devilish bile and need to be baptized, which is exactly what the song does with its straightforward and brighter charge.
Nick Holmes described Obsidian as “One of our most eclectic. It has miserable songs, slow songs, sad songs, and faster songs. Did I mention miserable?”
Did I mention remarkable? The album is an illustrious eruption of doom metal and is everywhere you stream music.