By Dr. Abner Mality

With their last album “Medusa”, PARADISE LOST totally crushed any possibility that the band’s best days were behind them. “Medusa” was a monstrously heavy and doleful release that wound up being my favorite record of 2017. But classic bands are never finished proving themselves. Would the follow up to “Medusa” keep the momentum going...or backslide?

“Obsidian” is definitely not “Medusa Pt. 2” and the band was at great pains to let us know this was going to be the case. “Obsidian” is a lot more varied album with more melody and nuance than the suffocating death/doom of “Medusa”. Is it the dreaded “wimp out”? By no means! There are more than a few points here that equal the heaviest that PARADISE LOST has ever done. But there’s definitely more “Gothiness”...I’d say light and shadow, but the truth is the album is shadowy even on the most melodic moments. I would say “Obsidian” compares closest to “Draconian Times” in feel.

Vocalist supreme Nick Holmes puts in another great performance here. He gets to use a lot more of his clear but gloomy clear vocals this time around, but also unleashes plenty of grinding growls, a style he does better than just about anybody. With the very first cut “Darker Thoughts”, the change from “Medusa” is obvious, as this track veers back and forth from crystalline Gothic rock/metal to bone-cracking heaviness. Cuts like “The Devil Embraced” and “Hope Dies Young” maintain this delicate straddling of sounds. “Serenity” is the hardest driving, most metallic song (ironic considering its name) while “Ending Days” is the closest to pure Gothic melody (though there are heavy parts here, too).

Overall, the songwriting is sharp and the band is dedicated to its “core” sound.  “Ravenghast” may in fact be the ultimate PARADISE LOST song, since it contains something from every phase of P.D.’s development. The CD has a couple of bonus tracks which are for the most part very typical PARADISE LOST. Do I like “Obsidian” as much as “Medusa”? No, not quite, but this is a strong followup and not one interested in just repeating the same thing over and over again.