Black Stone Wielders: PARADISE LOST - Obsidian Review

The kings of gothic doom return to meld all eras of their vast catalog into a defining statement that complements an already immortal discography.

Quantifying the influence of a single group on any musical genre is a rather difficult, almost impossible task. As someone who considers the grand influence of current music, one must also confront the Goliaths that have preceded the new blood. To accurately describe the influence that Halifax’s PARADISE LOST have had on the world of extreme music is ultimately an exercise that will result in dismay and bewilderment. In the thirty plus years that the group has been active, each release has revealed a band that is not content with staying in one lane for exceedingly long periods of time. From their auspicious beginnings as forerunners of the death doom movement in the late 80’s, pioneering gothic doom and experimenting in the 90’s, firmly establishing themselves as elder statesmen in the 2000’s and finally returning to their roots in the 2010’s, PARADISE LOST enter another decade of existence with a true prime mover in the form of their sixteenth studio album Obsidian.

Following the massive return to death doom stylings on The Plague Within (2015) and Medusa (2017), the West Yorkshire doom gods have crafted one of the most layered and interesting listening experiences in their discography since Draconian Times (1995) hit the ears of the world nearly twenty five years ago. So, what makes the band qualified to stand toe to toe with the rest of the doom world in which the style they helped pioneer has now gained worldwide admiration? Well, the truth lies in the fact that a band who helped forge a sound can still bring the necessary energy and vitality to the genre that plods and yet still manages to give the young bucks another blueprint to base their sound and aesthetic on.

Formed in the West Yorkshire town of Halifax in 1988, PARADISE LOST began and has remained consistent with the core lineup of vocalist Nick Holmes, guitar wizards Gregor Mackintosh and Aaron Eady and bass lord Stephen Edmondson with a revolving door of drummers. These four men, along with founding drummer Matthew “Tuds” Archer, would record two highly influential demos entitled Paradise Lost, which came to light in December of 1988, and the Frozen Illusion demo in the summer of 1989. Off the back of these two demos and their explosive live performances, the group were signed to the Peaceville Records imprint and would later release their first full length record Lost Paradise in the early months of 1990. The record was a brutal mixture of mid-tempo death metal ala AUTOPSY and BOLT THROWER combined with the slow grinding pace of CANDLEMASS, BLACK SABBATH and TROUBLE. But as history would play out, the band were not content with staying in just that course for long.

Soon after, the band would release their arguable masterpiece Gothic (1991) the very next year. While downplaying a lot of the death metal, the record saw the group incorporating influence from THE SISTERS OF MERCY, JOY DIVISION, and classical music to create what would eventually become gothic doom. 1992 saw the release of Shades of God through new label Music For Nations, which would introduce the world to the cleaner vocal stylings of Mr. Holmes, becoming a large success despite the record having a hefty track listing with many songs breaching the seven minute mark. It saw the band at a point where they could take the then experimental nature of Gothic and combine it with totally unique songwriting and riff work. This style would culminate in the 1993 masterwork Icon and refined further on 1995’s Draconian Times. After the release of Icon however, Tuds Archer would exit the band and Lee Morris would take the drum throne.

The next release from the band entitled One Second (1997) would see PARADISE LOST strip much of their metallic sound in favor of a more straightforward gothic rock approach. This experiment would come to a head on the band’s most divisive record, 1999’s Host, which saw the band go full DEPECHE MODE with synth pop and an overall cleaner prod