Album Review – Paradise Lost / Obsidian (2020)

The overlords of doom return with another majestic album, exploring the unknown and opening new horizons with their awe-inspiring music.

Still reigning supreme as the overlords of doom after over three decades on the road, Halifax, England-based Doom Metal act Paradise Lost never gets tired of stunning us all with their refined hybrid of old school Doom and Death Metal with 80’s and contemporary Gothic Metal and Rock, proving why they’ve maintained their relevance in the world of heavy music without disappointing their loyal fans not even once in their vast career. Now in 2020 it’s time for frontman Nick Holmes, guitarists Greg Mackintosh and Aaron Aedy, bassist Steve Edmondson and drummer Waltteri Väyrynen to darken the skies once again with Obsidian, their sixteenth studio album and the follow-up to their latest releases Medusa, from 2017, and The Plague Within, released in 2015. Recorded, mixed and mastered at Orgone Studios, with additional recordings done at Black Planet, and featuring a cryptic artwork by British artist Adrian Baxter, Obsidian might not be considered a classic yet like Gothic, Icon or Draconian Times, but I’m sure the album will reach its deserved cult status soon based on the amazing quality of the music found throughout its 47 astonishing minutes (plus the extra 10 minutes from the deluxe edition).

The gorgeous guest violin by Spanish musician Alicia Nurho adds a touch of finesse to the opening track Darker Thoughts, led by the always enfolding, deep vocals by Nick, sounding utterly grandiose, epic and doomed, and with Waltteri displaying all his refined skills behind his drum set. Then in Fall from Grace the band keeps slamming our heads mercilessly with their crushing riffage and damned beats, all led by Nick’s obscure roars while Steve makes the earth rumble with his bass (not to mention Greg’s hypnotizing solo), whereas Steve kicks off the 80’s-inspired dark tune titled Ghosts, enhanced by a brilliant performance by Nick with his Stygian vocals while his bandmates bring endless groove and electricity to the song from start to finish. And bringing forward contemplative lyrics that reek of modern-day poetry (“I’m tired of dreams, I’m tired of almost everything / Dreams deceive and living never lasts. / Too tired to sleep, denial of grief awakes my sins / Too weak to breathe, from living in deaths hands”), The Devil Embraced is another lesson in Gothic and Doom Metal spearheaded by Waltteri’s classic drums and the strident riffs by both Greg and Aaron.

Ominous sounds embellish the ambience in the also somber and heavy-as-hell Forsaken, where Nick is once again flawless on vocals supported by the slashing guitars by Greg and Aaron, while Steve and Waltteri sound absolutely thunderous with their respective instruments. After such dense tune, it’s time to bang our heads in darkness to the sound of Serenity, a hammering fusion of Doom and Death Metal tailored for admirers of the genre, also presenting some welcome breaks and variations, tons of progressiveness and the always macabre roars by Nick, followed by Ending Days, where Alicia returns with her gentle violin while the band gets back to a more serene and melancholic vibe, showcasing all their versatility and talent. Furthermore, the impact of the guitars and drums combined to the overall result is majestic, which can also be said about Hope Dies Young, featuring backing vocals by American singer Heather Mackintosh (Tapping the Vein), a very pleasant and enfolding sonority, and another round of their unique and stylish lyrics (“How could you know? / As pure as driven snow / Through a winter of descent / The splintered argument / Such a withering lament / Hopes will die young / Hopes will die young now”). The last song of the regular version of Obsidian, titled Ravenghast, brings to our ears a classic Paradise Lost sound, reminding me of some of their old school compositions from Draconian Times, with the level of heaviness and melancholy being beautifully insane while Waltteri blasts his drums in the best Doom Metal way possible and Nick fires his deep, demonic growls. If you decide to purchase the deluxe edition of Obsidian you’ll face the bonus tracks Hear the Night and Defiler, both very solid and classy Doom Metal compositions presenting all the elements we learned to love form the band’s distinguished music, making it totally worth the investment.

I guess I don’t need to ask you to take a good listen at Obsidian in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, especially if you’re a diehard fan of the band, and of course don’t forget to keep the fires of doom burning by purchasing your copy of the album by clicking HERE, and to follow Paradise Lost on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. If you search for the meaning of “obsidian” online, you’ll find out it’s a volcanic glass that’s supposed to be truth-enhancing, a strongly protective stone which forms a shield against negativity, blocking psychic attack and absorbing negative energies from the environment. Obsidian draws out mental stress and tension, stimulating growth on all levels, urging exploration of the unknown and opening new horizons. There couldn’t be a better representation of the new album by Paradise Lost, as their brand new opus is indeed a work-of-art perfect for heightening our senses and opening our minds and hearts for the glory of doom.

Best moments of the album: Darker Thoughts, Ghosts, Serenity and Ravenghast.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Darker Thoughts 5:46
2. Fall from Grace 5:42
3. Ghosts 4:35
4. The Devil Embraced 6:08
5. Forsaken 4:30
6. Serenity 4:46
7. Ending Days 4:36
8. Hope Dies Young 4:02
9. Ravenghast 5:30

Deluxe Edition bonus tracks
10. Hear the Night 5:34
11. Defiler 4:45

Band members
Nick Holmes – vocals
Greg Mackintosh – lead & rhythm guitar
Aaron Aedy – rhythm guitar
Steve Edmondson – bass
Waltteri Väyrynen – drums

Guest musicians
Alicia Nurho – violin on “Darker Thoughts” and “Ending Days”
Heather Mackintosh – backing vocals on “Hopes Die Young”

Album Review – Neverworld / Visions Of Another World (2014)

An exciting music journey to a “different world” created by this talented Heavy Metal band from the UK.

Rating4

Front CoverFormed in 2009 from the ashes of several local bands in Bedfordshire, UK, comes a Heavy/Power Metal band that offers fans of the genre a very professional and entertaining music feast, with all the traditional and melodic elements found in the music by giants such as Judas Priest, Deep Purple, Helloween, Gamma Ray and Savatage. After the release of an EP entitled Welcome To…, in 2010, British band Neverworld is back with their first full-length album, the interesting and solid Visions Of Another World.

According to the band members themselves, “Neverworld is a place of dreams, a world we all visit in our sleep and the band explore this magical realm in their lyrics and artwork.” They also say it’s a place where metal dreams come true, inspiring all of us to use our imagination while listening to their music, and let me tell you this is the best thing you can do while taking a listen at Visions Of Another World: not only this is a very technical album, but it’s just a matter of closing your eyes and following the story told in each and every song for a unique experience that will stimulate all your senses.

In order to properly kick off the “journey” proposed above we have Tempus, an intro that blends the sound of a clock ticking together with some smooth piano and keyboard notes, as if the band wanted to musically hypnotize and transport the listener to another world, before the title-track, the amazing Visions Of Another World, fills our ears and souls with that Symphonic Power Metal vibe, speed and energy the likes of Helloween and Judas Priest, with highlights to its guitar solos blended with some background keyboard notes. Simply raise your fists and sing the chorus along with vocalist Ben Colton, you’re going to love it.

band picThey Live focuses on more old school heavy music, like a mix of Deep Purple and Gamma Ray, with its ending showcasing a very harmonious and progressive side, creating an intense and fun atmosphere for the listener, while Blood And Romance, invigorated by the stunning vocals by guest musician Christina Gajny, is so delightful I would like to see more of that Ben/Christina duo in their future releases. It’s such a beautiful Power Metal ballad, with almost 10 minutes of powerful melodies and atmospheric passages transpiring pure emotion, it’s hard not to listen to it several times before moving on to the next song, Ghosts, with its “angrier” and more rhythmic musicality. Even the vocal lines by Ben are more aggressive here, providing a good balance with all its nice breaks and variations before culminating in a 100% Power Metal ending.

The band “spins the wheel” in the next track, The Wheel Of Misfortune, which has in its powerful keyboards and the amazing guitar solo “battle” during its last part its greatest strengths, followed by the more serious and introspective Eminent Reprisal, where Neverworld slow down things a bit and let the guitar lines guide the music. Each of the band members’ skills are truly noticeable here, with so many good solos and riffs it’s difficult to pick just one or two. Finally, we have Salt Water Bandits, which starts in a very mighty way, enhanced by an atmospheric break halfway through it and all the great sounding the band has to offer us, including many creative riffs, soulful solos, accelerated beats, high-pitched vocals and so on; and the very progressive This Fire, which sounds like a hybrid of Dream Theater and Gamma Ray with the band’s own touch, ending with the same clock from the intro to wrap things up in a very consistent way.

Visions Of Another World is available on CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon and other locations, and it’s a more than welcome addition to your list of metal albums. Let the energy and atmosphere generated by those British guys invade your mind and soul, and you’ll be more than happy to follow them to this new world of heavy music.

Best moments of the album: Visions Of Another World, Blood And Romance and Eminent Reprisal.

Worst moments of the album: This Fire.

Released in 2014 Dreamdemon Recordings

Track listing
1. Tempus 2:27
2. Visions Of Another World 5:53
3. They Live 4:44
4. Blood And Romance 9:13
5. Ghosts 6:40
6. The Wheel Of Misfortune 5:37
7. Eminent Reprisal 7:24
8. Salt Water Bandits 8:16
9. This Fire 8:33

Band members
Ben Colton – guitar, bass, keyboards, vocals
Jack Foster – guitar
Gary Payne – bass
Daniel Potter – keyboards
Mike Vaughan – drums

Guest musician
Christina Gajny – female vocals on “Blood and Romance”