It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a fan of Paradise Lost. They were one of the first bands I saw live back in my mid-teens, and I used to bump into them in Bradford Rios now and again. Nice bunch of guys and one of a small collection who lay partial claim to the invention of modern Gothic metal. They’ve continued to reinvent themselves over 32(!) years while still maintaining a sound that can be rightfully classed as their own, and now we’re about to have album number sixteen dropped in our laps.
It’s important to have a strong opening to an album and “Darker Thoughts” is the strongest a band could hope for. It’s more than a song, it’s an incredibly wide-ranging musical piece and as accomplished as Paradise Lost have ever created in their long history. The listener is lulled in with a gentle acoustic intro, Holmes using appropriately mellow vocals and strings (or keys masquerading as strings) chirruping behind. Then two minutes in the drums, electrics and Holmes’ harsher voice are let loose. This isn’t a fast song, nor is it particularly “heavy” in the loud sense. It’s atmospheric, ethereal, dark and just so bloody Paradise Lost that nobody else could have made it.
A difficult act to follow, but bloody hell have they managed it. Over all eight of the other tracks. You can check out “Fall From Grace” in the video below, which does have more of the sound we’re used to from older releases. A bit more epic than the opener, it plods along like the heavy monster it was written to be. “Ghosts”‘ bass-led opening evokes Sisters of Mercy which is no bad thing, but continues to highlight Paradise Lost’s range of gloomy tones.
Second Opinion (Dave)
Mosh has pretty much nailed it here – as a fellow ‘old fart’, I’ve been following this band since pretty much day one and the last few releases have stunned me.
For a band who have spanned 32 years of albums, they are producing some of their best ever work in the latter stages of their career. “Darker Thoughts” is an even better opener to an album than “Fearless Sky” on Medusa, and I had already seen that jump ahead of Enchantment and Embers Fire from back in the 90s – and the guitar solos on it will give you goosebumps. And the opening bassline on “Ghosts” is proper dirty and drives this song on so well.
The quality of music on The Plague Within and Medusa, and now being heard on Obsidian, would be seeing them lauded from everywhere if they were just starting out.
The band’s melancholy attitude can be gleaned from a simple look at the song titles: “Forsaken”, “Hope Dies Young”, “Ending Days”… but despite the downbeat subject matter, every track has a rhythm, an earworm, a melody. Paradise Lost combine misery with melody in a way that many other bands just can’t manage, and they’re masters at it. Hell, “Serenity” kicks off with a riff that shouldn’t be upbeat, but it bloody is. The head-nodding rhythm and Holmes’ growls backed by a near-folk metal sound just works.
“Ravenghast” is a wonderful title, and the song is as epic as the name suggests. It counterpoints the opening song, being far heavier and bigger in scale. The two together do a great job of book-ending this superb collection.
There’s one of those annoying memes going around facebook at the moment, asking you to list ten albums you could listen to over and over from start to finish without skipping a track. I can happily add Obsidian to that list. Hands down one of the band’s best releases, which is some accomplishment given their longevity and back-catalogue. Make sure you have the cash to grab this when it comes out!
Obsidian is out on May 15th – grab it via Amazon and help support this site!