Paradise lost – Obsidian, Review & Interview with Greg Mackintosh


Diversity is my middle name. That to me is what Paradise Lost represent. Spanning over a long time (30-ish years) of releasing music the band has changed somewhat in their music. That is a modest description, I think.
On this new release the delivery starts quite calm, for a while in the first song “Darker Thoughts”. But just when you start thinking that this is a rather nice melancholic little piece, then your feet get pulled from under you. The nice acoustic guitars and strings changes about 2 minutes in. Heavy and doomy takes the song forward.
“Fall from Grace” takes our journey forward after that. Amazingly heavy riff and dark singing makes this song a future live favorite in my book.
What you get following on as we cross between influences via the Sisters of Mercy” smelling “Ghosts” and the collectively Paradise Lost-cliff Notes song “Devil Embraced” follows.

“Forsaken” is a bit of a heavier number with melodies resembling eighties new Wave with a passion. What you can hear through this album is a stronger influence from that era regarding melodies and influence then I have been able to identify so clearly in previous releases from the group.
The ending foursome of “Serenity”, “Ending Days”, “Hopes Die Young and “Ravenghast” goes more to a dreary, melancholic and gloomy side of Paradise Lost.
This is a well-arranged album. I cannot find a song I really dislike on it. You both get what you expect and there are as always some moments of surprise on a Paradise Lost album. You would expect nothing less.

Band: Paradise Lost
Title: Obsidian
Label: Nuclear Blast
Date of release: 2020-05-15
Rate: 8/10
Stand out track(s): Fall From Grace/Ravenghast

So, a new album from Paradise Lost. The first song I heard was “As I Die”. Feels like ages ago, feels like the band has been to the moon and back regarding changes in music during the best part of 30 years of existing.
I had the privilege of stealing some time from founding member Greg Mackintosh on a Friday afternoon. For having done quite few interviews about this album for an extended period, I found Greg a delight to change a few words with. Happy Chappy sums it up quite well.
A bit strange times to do this during corona. But doing this interview on link from the north of England during quarantine was smooth.

How is this quarantine effecting you? You live for this and you live on this?
G: Big change for me is that I have spent the largest part of my life travelling and playing shows. Never with more than a month of. Now, I do not know when my next show is going to be. I´m craving to be in the gig and festival atmosphere. It is a strange detached feeling at the moment.

You do take influence from the old 80´s synth band that I think you can hear in the music, especially the melodies. Even on this new album it is quite clear?
G: Yes, when I grew up and started going to clubs in Leeds, like goth clubs where you heard metal, punk & synth music. You have Sisters Of Mercy from Leeds, The Cult from Bradford and New model Army and the new wave stuff like Depeche Mode and New Order and the likes of them.

When you are working towards an album, your process seem to be like building a bathroom. You seem to put a lot of time on the foundations so that the outer layer will stick over time.
G: I do not mind that reference at all. I will counter it with my own: When you work with great producer, you usually end up with a decent result.

You seem to be forever hungry for exploring new paths with your music.
G: It´s not necessarily a hunger, it is about being content in your chosen life-path. To keep me happy and sane. It takes this thing where you must try different things out. Variety is the spice of life! It is not like: What can I do now to be different, because that would be equally cliché. It’s more the feeling of not being on a production line.

Your change in music is like going on a rollercoaster if you look at your career, bouncing over 30 years.
G: I do not doing the same thing all the time. I have to question the motive for doing that. It´s like working on a production line. It defeats the object of doing this for me. I cannot imagine a writer doing the same book over and over. It is an odd concept to me. I think about artists that diversify, like David Bowie where you might like anything from one off the albums to all of them. I aspire to a career more like that.

Looking at the song from the new album, for example “Ghost”, I get a lot of reference to Sisters Of Mercy in that.
G: True, I was looking at the early stuff in new wave like Reptile House and Siouxsie and the Banshees stuff I was referring to at that moment.

“Fall from Grace” feels like a song that takes your whole career in a 6-minute song?
G: That song and “Devil embraced” are that kind of songs to me. There is lots going on in the songs, lots of different parts of layers and textures. It is almost like a musical biography.

With your songs, even though you have changed quite a bit musically during your career, there is almost always something that can be identified as Paradise Lost.
G: There is only a couple of tracks on there that I can´t pinpoint listening back now what I was thinking about musically when we did them. They do stand out as slightly different. Like the opening track “Darker Thoughts” for example. “Ending days” is another example of that. They are both kind of more eclectic. The string section in “Ending Days “was an improvised thing at the last minute.

“Ravenghast” is a ghostly song that paints a picture of a foggy London city during Jack the Rippers heyday.
G: I love it when people talk about music in those terms. People should do it more than referring to other bands or their styles of music. I prefer it when it crunches up an image of something.

“Darker Thoughts” makes me think about Opeth.
G: This was to start with just an acoustic lick that I did and sent to Nick. Because I thought the album could do with some kind of introduction that is not what people would expect. Nick did not answer for 3 days, but when he did, he had looped the lick and put some vocals onto it. First; I thought it sounded like old Fleetwood Mac, but it grew on me. I got the idea to maybe develop it into a strange opening song where people do not expect the shift. I hope people will give it time and get that far. That they will think “What the hell is this” and turn off before the kicking´ in bit.

But if they have listened to you before they should know that you get surprised with where you are going.
G: Yes, but we do have to think about people that might never have heard Paradise Lost. Say you have someone that have just listened to Pantera and are given our new album a chance and puts on “Darker thoughts”. He might just think: What´s this shit! But if holding out for a bit in the song, he might just like it when it changes.

If I was to compare you to a movie director, I would call you Tim Burton. Thoughts on that reference?
G: Interesting comparison. I get what you mean, but I think he is a bit theatrical for Paradise Lost. He has all these different hats you can try on, but a little bit theatrical. Paradise Lost is not about full on depression, a bit of sweet melancholy. A lot of different levels to it. More introspective and reflective stuff. There is glimmers of hope here and there.

I think that sums up the conversation nicely. A nice bit of chat about the band and the new album. For me it is as always with Paradise Lost, I feel like I am always a bit surprised with what I hear on a new album with this group. Which is good.

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Paradise lost – Obsidian, Review & Interview with Greg Mackintosh

May 13, 2020

The ending foursome of “Serenity”, “Ending Days”, “Hopes Die Young and “Ravenghast” goes more to a dreary, melancholic and gloomy side of Paradise Lost.

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