PARADISE LOST
"Obsidian"

(Nuclear Blast)

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

RATING: 9/10

It's both pleasing and reassuring that so many so-called veteran bands are enjoying such rich, late-career surges of creativity. PARADISE LOST didn't always seem the most likely candidates for serious longevity: around the turn of the millennium, the band seemed to be struggling for new ideas and detached from the heaviness that once defined them. If you hadn't witnessed it yourself, you might now struggle to imagine such a period in the band's story, because PARADISE LOST have been on towering form for the last decade. Their last two albums, "The Plague Within" (2015) and "Medusa" (2017), were particularly glorious, as Halifax's finest sealed the deal on their long, slow return to crushing, doom metal, albeit now bolstered by refined melodic sensibilities earned over the preceding decades. As much as certain sections of the rock and metal media obsess over whatever the next big thing might be, isn't it quintessentially and definitively metal to still be churning out great music at the 30-year point?

The great news for PARADISE LOST fans is that "Obsidian" continues the band's blazing-hot streak of top form, while also expanding the last two records' necessarily myopic vision to include plenty of gothic rock and even occasional flashes of progginess. Opener "Darker Thoughts" is simply magnificent; a slow-burning anti-ballad which builds from an elegant, piano-led intro to an emotionally crushing climax. "Fall From Grace" is cut from the same, morbid cloth as recent gems like "No Hope in Sight", but with a flash of old-school fervor and a brooding hook balancing out the slow-motion grimness. Similarly, "The Devil Embraced" reaffirms the British legends' devotion to snail's pace riffs, but it's a wonderfully crafted mini-epic, with vocalist Nick Holmes switching masterfully between glowering cleans and hellish rasp, a genuinely eye-popping lead break and a chorus to kill for.

Elsewhere, "Obsidian" sees PARADISE LOST make a welcome return to their gothic roots. Reeking of leather trousers and cheap speed, "Ghosts" is a blatant and joyous nod to the goth rock old school, like some souped-up SISTERS OF MERCY outtake, aimed squarely at the dancefloor, but just as likely to send a metal crowd into a kohl-eyed froth. In a similar vein, "Forsaken" is as perfect an example of gothic metal as you will ever hear, right down to the reverb-drenched choral backing vocals and Holmes's brilliantly overwrought, furrowed brow delivery; while "Hope Dies Young" is a tense cautionary tale set to a classic, mid-paced post-punk plod, superficially redolent of THE CURE and THE CULT, but also a partial return to the anthemic, muscular PARADISE LOST sound of the early '90s. Best of all, macabre closer "Ravenghast" evokes the futile squalor of the battlefield over some of Greg Mackintosh's heaviest riffs ever: thick with atmosphere and mortal dread, it's both grandiose and admirably uncompromising.

Still kicking, still evolving and, perhaps against the odds, increasingly making the best music of their careers, PARADISE LOST have nothing to prove at this point. But they're proving it anyway, with one of the finest albums they've ever made.

COMMENTS

To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@)gmail.com with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).