Gothic doom masters Paradise Lost get eclectic on Obsidian | Music Review | Chicago Reader

Gothic doom masters Paradise Lost get eclectic on Obsidian 

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click to enlarge Paradise Lost

Paradise Lost

Courtesy the Artist

British five-piece Paradise Lost had already helped pioneer death-doom by the time they put out their second album, 1991’s Gothic, and laid groundwork for subsequent generations of bands that combined metal’s harshness with dark, romantic textures. They’ve since gone through nearly as many drummers as Spinal Tap, but the rest of the lineup—vocalist Nick Holmes, lead guitarist and keyboardist Gregor Mackintosh, rhythm guitarist Aaron Aedy, and bassist Stephen Edmondson—has remained intact since the band’s founding in 1988. Their longevity may arise in part from their chameleon-like ability to transform their sound; they can deliver a crushing guitar-driven epic fit for leading a battalion of medieval warriors into battle, or a synth-heavy, noirish pop track that could make the most forlorn mall goth smile. Paradise Lost have had ups and downs, but lately they’ve veered back toward their roots: 2017’s Medusa is a master class in achingly heavy doom. True to form, they’ve changed course again on their new 16th album, Obsidian. While Medusa is single-minded in its vision, Obsidian embraces electicsm, pacing its shifts in tone so well that even the most fervent shuffle-button addicts might see the point of the album format. “Darker Forms” kicks off the album with a twinkling melody, then opens up into dark symphonic rock that climaxes with Mackintosh’s heaven-bound guitar solo. On the third track, “Ghosts,” Paradise Lost break out a death-rock sound custom-made for the grimiest subterranean dance floors, and on the supersized gothic anthem “Forsaken,” they create a more empowering feel than its title would suggest. The album’s genre looseness notwithstanding, it doesn’t lack for cavernous metal to sink your teeth into, most notably on “The Devil’s Embrace” and closing track “Ravenghast.” Thirty-two years into their career, Paradise Lost have nothing left to prove except to themselves—and with Obsidian they demonstrate what a great place that is for a band to reach.   v

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