Over the past 32 years, Paradise Lost have never confined themselves to one genre or mode of expression while keeping their own distinctively morose identity the entire time. Whether they’re playing death metal or synth pop, the Yorkshire legends have somehow always sounded unmistakably like themselves. After 2015’s The Plague Within and 2017’s Medusa signalled a return to their heavier, doomier roots, it’s no surprise that Obsidian is something of a reinvention, upping their sumptuously dark melodicism and emphasising the contrast between the band’s more subtle, introspective moments and their aforementioned heavier side.
Hope Dies Young and the elegant Ghosts, with their glistening, sinister keys, bold yet moribund stomp and Nick Holmes’ mournful baritone croon, are bona fide goth bangers, convincingly melancholy but still robust and energetic enough to knock the dust off Fields Of The Nephilim’s hats. The thick, doomy flavour that informed their last few records hasn’t completely dissipated, however; just check out the oppressive, forlorn closer Ravenghast – a prime deathly dirge complete with gruff death growls. Songs like opener Darker Thoughts offer the best of both worlds, contrasting sombre acoustic guitars and subtle orchestral elements with huge slabs of thick, distorted gloom. Guitarist Gregor Mackintosh is in his element here too, with his leads sounding fluid, melodic and spine-tinglingly expressive throughout.
While it might seem odd to call a record as grim and downtrodden as this a ‘celebration’, it certainly feels like a celebration of all the different styles and sounds Paradise Lost have experimented with throughout their career. In combining the gruesome heft of their early work with the soaring, melodic songwriting of recent years, they may just have achieved the impossible and created a record that will appeal equally to fans of every different era of their storied discography.
Paradise Lost’s Obsidian is out on May 15