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 – The Hypothesis / Origin (2016)

A complete lineup change and almost four years to conclude an album? In the case of these Finnish metallers, it was definitely worth the wait.

Rating4

The_Hypothesis_cover_2400After what happened with Guns N’ Roses and their controversial album Chinese Democracy (2008), whenever a band suffers significant lineup changes and takes a good amount of time to release an album, people get really skeptical about the final result. Fortunately, that’s not the case with Finnish Modern Melodic Metal band The Hypothesis, who after a complete change in their lineup and four years locked in the middle of a dark forest of Viitasaari, in Central Finland, are finally releasing their debut full-length album, entitled Origin, an excellent display of modern and melodic heavy music.

Formed in the city of Kouvola, Finland in 2009, but currently based about 130km to the southwest of that, in the capital Helsinki, The Hypothesis have already built a solid reputation in Melodic Death Metal, playing in renowned festivals such as Nummirock and Qstock, and sharing the stage with names like Swallow The Sun, Scar Symmetry, Wolfheart and Before The Dawn. And that’s after having released only one EP, named Nightshade, back in 2010. And now, without further ado, it’s time to hit play and start moshing with those Finnish metallers.

Right from the first few notes in Shades to Escape, you’ll notice how much they love futuristic keyboard noises, providing a sound that’s very harmonious and polished as usual, but always as violent as this type of music demands. In addition, frontman Antti Seppälä offers sharp and harsh growls nicely complemented by some clean vocals to give more balance to the song, with the powerful riffs and solos by both guitarists Juuso Turkki and Asko Sartanen filling all the spaces left. Leak, an old school Melodic Death Metal with hints of Metalcore, sounds less experimental and a lot heavier and more vicious, with the precise drumming by Waltteri Väyrynen enhancing the electricity found in the music; while End of Your Days somehow “takes off” from where the opening track stopped, with Antti going on with his furious screams and both guitars blasting some awesome riffs, all supported by the song’s background keyboards and the intricate bass lines by Markku “Neissu” Ruuskanen.

The_Hypothesis_promopic_largeOnce again exhibiting a futuristic and metallic aura, Scarface is a decent composition that unfortunately doesn’t live up to the energy found throughout the rest of the album, with its rhythm sounding a bit confusing (or maybe too progressive compared to what the other songs offer). Exit puts the band back on track with its high level of violence and nonstop action, boosted by an amazing guitar solo by guest musician Daniel Freyberg. Moreover, Markku can’t stop pounding his thunderous strings in this modern and melodic Death Metal chant tailored for fans of the genre, and almost immediately they connect it to Atonement, another song presenting potent riffs and high-end solos by Juuso and Asko where Antti showcases some clean vocals before going back to his demonic mode.

In Eye for an Eye, the rhythmic beats by Waltteri craft the perfect sonic tornado for Antti to fire desperate and harsh vocal lines in the best song of the album. This is how a Melodic Death Metal band should always add progressive elements to their musicality, not to mention its yet again flawless keyboard notes. On the other hand, Weak Story, despite its instrumental pieces being as good as the rest of the album (in special its guitar solos), brings forward out-of-place clean vocals that sound taken from a generic Metalcore song. And closing the album we have the interesting instrumental song Second Chance, where the modern elements added to its polished production turn it into a nice experimental voyage in Melodic Death Metal. Besides, you can pretend to be Antti and add your own lyrics and vocals to it, how about that? Or you can simply relax and relish the beautiful guitar riffs and rumbling bass lines offered by the band during the whole song as well.

This up-and-coming band from Finland can be found on Facebook and on YouTube, and you can purchase Origin at the Inverse Records’ webshop, on iTunes or on Amazon. It might have taken almost four years for The Hypothesis to conclude their first full-length record, but after listening to it you’ll realize it was definitely worth the wait thanks to all the energy and passion those guys put into the making of the album.

Best moments of the album: Leak, Exit and Eye for an Eye.

Worst moments of the album: Scarface and Weak Story.

Released in 2016 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Shades to Escape 4:20
2. Leak 4:25
3. End of Your Days 4:47
4. Scarface 3:51
5. Exit 3:34
6. Atonement 3:28
7. Eye for an Eye 4:46
8. Weak Story 4:03
9. Second Chance (Instrumental) 4:43

Band members
Antti Seppälä – vocals
Juuso Turkki – guitar
Asko Sartanen – guitar
Markku “Neissu” Ruuskanen – bass
Waltteri Väyrynen – drums

Guest musician
Daniel Freyberg – guitar solo on “Exit”