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 – Goatchrist / The Epic Tragedy Of The Cult Of Enlil EP (2015)

One of the most promising Black Metal bands in the world steps their game up with a unique concept and more of their thought-provoking music.

Rating3

Goatchrist-EpicTragedyWhen the demo She Who Holds the Scrying Mirror by British Blackened Death Metal band Goatchrist was reviewed here at The Headbanging Moose last year, I said the band was surely going to leave their mark in the world of extreme music in the years to come so electrifying the album was. In less than one year, this Wakefield/Halifax-based group has substantially improved in terms of songwriting and quality of their music, leading up to their superb new EP entitled The Epic Tragedy Of The Cult Of Enlil and solidifying their place atop the list of most promising Black Metal bands in the world. And if you don’t believe me when I say they’re the future of Extreme Metal, please read this review and listen to their thunderous music, and you’ll promptly understand why.

To begin with, remember we’re talking about a 17-year old musician, Dominator Xul’Ahabra, who still has a long way to go in his life but who at the same time is already capable of crafting extremely complex and meaningful music at such a young stage of his career. For instance, he even plays some very unusual instruments in this EP such as the mellotron, the theremin, the glockenspiel and the ice bells. In addition to that, there’s an incredible concept behind the whole EP, increasing its depth and level of intricacy compared to the majority of all other recent metal releases. The Epic Tragedy Of The Cult Of Enlil is based upon a story from traditional Sumerian folklore: a brief outline of the story is that it follows a trio of sorcerers in ancient Sumer (where modern-day Iraq exists) who are summoned to the temple of the god Enlil, who informs them that his Tablet of Destinies (the relic that enables him to be universally recognized as the Supreme deity) has been stolen by the Anzû bird. You can read more details about this awesome concept HERE, but either way you have to admit this is not your regular subject matter from such a young musician, right?

However, it’s the music itself in The Epic Tragedy Of The Cult Of Enlil that trespasses all boundaries of darkness and the unknown, providing us headbangers a unique experience in extreme music. The eerie organ and background voices in Intoduction properly set the tone for the tempest that’s about to come in The Triumvirate’s Flight to Nippur, which is almost the same powerful and intense song from their 2014 demo, this time with Dominator’s dark vocals to make it even more diabolical and therefore a billion times better. A Message Blows East on Sumerian Winds is top-notch Black Metal with hints of Middle-Eastern elements, especially in regards to the rhythm, also presenting solid guitar lines and an interesting theremin solo that end up taking the listener through an intense music journey.

goatchrist-logoThe following song, Plaguewood, showcases more atmospheric passages and symphonic elements, without abandoning of course the obscurity of the blackest form of metal music through Dominator’s vocals and riffs. It’s so captivating it doesn’t feel like it goes over six minutes, and I assure you that your head won’t hurt with such brutal musicality either. Then we have the masterpiece The Great Battle at the Ruins of Ninurta’s Temple, a song that perfectly represents its name: a battle amidst ancient ruins to the sound of old school Black Metal with a strong harmonic vein. I’m sure Behemoth’s one and only Nergal would love such darkly engaging composition, just as you will.

In the excellent Enki (The Ascendance of the Three to the Immortal Seats), including: a) Anu and b) Eternal Revitalisation,  Goatchrist get closer to the sonority of their 2014 demo, bitterly devilish and with its last part being a savage denouement to the story told in The Epic Tragedy Of The Cult Of Enlil. Actually, after all that devastation there’s still an outro entitled Epilogue, where the church organ is back to close this incredible concept EP in the most climatic way possible.

As aforementioned, Goatchrist have truly stepped their game up in The Epic Tragedy Of The Cult Of Enlil. What an amazing and original concept put forth by Dominator and his crew enhanced by their unique extreme music, and honestly I can’t see another EP (as well as lots of full-length albums) being better than this one in 2015. Moreover, the next release by Dominator and his horde is already in the planning stage, with a shift in history to traditional 17th century French occultism and Luciferianism, which makes me eager already for more of their dark music. Anyway, The Epic Tragedy Of The Cult Of Enlil is available through the band’s official BandCamp page and through SixSixSix Music’s Big Cartel page, and if I were you I would grab a copy of it without thinking twice. Goatchrist are not only the future of Extreme Metal, but with releases like The Epic Tragedy Of The Cult Of Enlil they’re proving they’re also the present.

Best moments of the album: The Triumvirate’s Flight to Nippur and The Great Battle at the Ruins of Ninurta’s Temple. As a matter of fact, the whole EP is amazing.

Worst moments of the album: None, of course.

Released in 2015 SixSixSix Music

Track listing
1. Introduction 2:50
2. The Triumvirate’s Flight to Nippur 5:18
3. A Message Blows East on Sumerian Winds 2:40
4. Plaguewood 6:27
5. The Great Battle at the Ruins of Ninurta’s Temple 4:05
6. Enki (The Ascendance of the Three to the Immortal Seats), including: a) Anu and b) Eternal Revitalisation 5:10
7. Epilogue 1:57

Band members
Dominator Xul’Ahabra – vocals, electric lead guitar, electric rhythm guitar, electric bass guitar, drums, percussion (including glockenspiel and ice bells), a variety of keyboards, church organ, mellotron, theremin, lyrical sorceries
Conqueror Va’sh – electric rhythm guitar
Blood-Count Aamon Vetis – electric bass guitar, backing vocals

Album Review – Goatchrist / She Who Holds the Scrying Mirror (2014)

Fans of extreme music, behold the rise of this extremely talented and obscure Black Metal band.

Rating5

goatchrist-coverHailing from Wakefield/Halifax, in the UK, comes Blackened Death Metal band Goatchrist, a group that despite having started as a one man band is now coming together as a full band, re-releasing their debut demo album from earlier 2014, She Who Holds the Scrying Mirror. And I don’t know if this album should be called only a “demo”, so professional and consistent it is compared to many other more experienced Black Metal bands. In other words, why not treating it with a little more respect as a full-length album already?

And it really deserves to be considered as such, especially if you take into account the fact vocalist/guitarist Dominator Xul’Ahabra was just 16 years old and when he was the sole band member. Not only this means it’s an awesome opportunity to enjoy the creations of a musician at the very beginning of his career, but also a chance to acknowledge his amazing talent for crafting extreme music in a way lots of veterans are not capable of even after so many years on the road. But don’t worry, Dominator and his “herd” stay true to the foundations of extreme metal, keeping an enormous distance from any type of commercial or pop stuff.

A smooth piano intro helps set the atmosphere for Through Flames, We Invoke Him (awesome song name, by the way), with its very dark and dense Black/Doom Metal musicality enhanced by the desperate vocals by Dominator, followed by the even rawer Catacombs, with more intense drums by Kaahl and riffs by Dominator and a melancholic break with an interesting duo of guitar and bass lines before an apocalyptic ending. This song can be really disturbing for non-fans of Black Metal, I should say.

goatchrist-logoAnd the derangement goes on with The Four Horsemen, another very decent and solid dark tune with harsh vocals again conducting the havoc, with the addition of some keyboard notes to lighten up a little the overall result. Then we have Bloodletting, Part 1, an intro to the title-track focusing on some interesting guitar lines, followed of course by the title-track, She Who Holds the Scrying Mirror, a demonic and atmospheric track where harsh vocals blend really well with traditional Black Metal instrumental, with highlights to bass and drums for being really strong and in total sync.

There’s still a lot more to come, beginning with a 3-minute fuckin’ violent massacre entitled Fatal Equinox (Perpetual Resplendence), a very professional cover version of one of the songs by Brazilian Black/Death Metal band Goatpenis. The next song is another intro, Bloodletting, Part 2, this time more atmospheric due to its organ and keyboard notes, “opening the gates” for the awesome Inferno. How do you think a song called “Inferno” would sound like? It’s truly infernal, with drummer Kaahl violently pounding his drums and Dominator delivering some dark riffs and solos while he screams like hell during the entire song. And for the total delight of fans of extreme metal, this re-issue of She Who Holds the Scrying Mirror also includes a brand new instrumental track, The Triumvirate’s Flight To Nippur, a feast of blast beats and traditional riffs where not even a single second sounds weak or empty.

In order to acquire this sonic storm, simply visit Goatchrist’s BandCamp page, or also visit SixSixSix Music’s official website and Big Cartel page, who by the way does an amazing job with tons of other truly underground metal bands. Fans of Black Metal, behold the rise of Goatchirst, a band that will surely leave their mark in the world of extreme music in the years to come.

Best moments of the album: Catacombs, She Who Holds the Scrying Mirror and Inferno.

Worst moments of the album: The Four Horsemen.

Released in 2014 SixSixSix Music

Track listing
1. Through Flames, We Invoke Him 7:43
2. Catacombs 4:51
3. The Four Horsemen 6:39
4. Bloodletting, Part 1 2:02
5. She Who Holds the Scrying Mirror 6:55
6. Fatal Equinox (Perpetual Resplendence) (Goatpenis cover) 2:39
7. Bloodletting, Part 2 2:08
8. Inferno 6:05
9. The Triumvirate’s Flight To Nippur (Instrumental) 5:18

Band members
Dominator Xul’Ahabra – guitar, vocals
Blood-Count Aamon Vetis – bass guitar, backing vocals
Kaahl – drums