Paradise Lost – Obsidian (Nuclear Blast)

Paradise Lost are so important to Britain’s musical heritage that there should be blue plaque outside Nick Holmes’ childhood home.

And the dank, West Yorkshire gloom from which they emerged in 1988 has always hung over the band, from Gothic’s soul crushing doom, to the commercial breakthrough of Draconian Times, to the synth strains of Host, to the band’s noughties metallic resurgence across Paradise Lost and In Requiem.

Host’s Depeche diversion aside, Paradise Lost’s status as one of the UK’s finest metal acts has rarely been in doubt since Icon hit in 1993, but for the quintet to have kept their flame burning into their 32nd year is nothing short of astonishing. And Obsidian weaves every strand of their pitch black legacy into nine glorious, stirring songs, a tapestry of Vampiric velvet to be hung from the charred walls of some twisted, nightmarish ruin. 

Old schoolers loved the return to roots approach of 2017’s Medusa, a record no doubt influenced by Holmes’ appointment as Bloodbath’s frontman and Gregor Mackintosh’s crust-caked Vallenfyre project. But credit to Paradise Lost, they’ve not just opted for a repeat of that opus – as easy as it may have been.

Instead, every aspect of the band’s songcraft shines through on Obsidian.

The driving, pulsing Forsaken could be the evil twin Draconian Times classic The Last Time – and is one of the finest songs Paradise Lost have written over the last decade. Ending Days runs it close for that honour, a melancholic anthem where you’ll find beauty in decay.

But in truth, the band’s 16th full length offers startling moments at every turn.

Fall From Grace, for instance, was clearly forged in Icon’s majestic darkness, yet crackles with the potent, addictive rock of One Second; Fields Of The Nephilim and The Sisters Of Mercy seep into every pore of Ghosts, a gothic rock hymn glistening with Mackintosh’s soaring leadwork; and the monstrous, death doom strains of Ravenghast bring proceedings to a grisly end on some godforsaken, wind-swept moor.

With Obsidian, Paradise Lost have mined their past, digging into every seam for the elements which make up their DNA.

And they’ve given birth to an album which is as definitive as it is spectacular.

We’re very lucky to have them.