Welcome to day six of my 2020 ‘Album of the Year Top 30 countdown’.
Just a quick reminder that numbers 30 down to 16 are really not in any particular order; they all deserve their place in the list and I found the exercise of trying to order them very difficult and a largely redundant exercise. All you need to know is that if they’re in the top 30, they are excellent. Simple.
You can check out the other picks so far in this year’s series at the end of this post alongside the entire lists from previous years.
Score Of Much Metal: 93%
A deserved spot in this year’s list for one of the genuine stalwarts of the UK metal scene, Paradise Lost. The Gothic, doom merchants have tried many paths over their extensive career, but have seen a real resurgence of late, led by a string of impressive albums. On ‘Obsidian’, they have built on this recent success but have also dipped into their past to create arguably their best record since the mid-nineties.
‘Obsidian’, to my ears, is a great blend of the heaviness of their early death metal days, combined with a more grandiose, Gothic element, seen in their mid-era and beyond. Vocalist Nick Holmes positively revels in the fact that he can bark out some menacing growls whilst also opening the taps to his powerful, emotional voice to offer something more nuanced and melodic. Behind him, the band never misses a beat, providing such a deep and rich soundtrack, both aggressive and refined, supported by a great production. It just feels like a really accomplished record all round.
The end result is that I simply couldn’t ignore ‘Obsidian’ when compiling this end-of-year list. To do so would have been a big error in my opinion, an opinion that hasn’t wavered since I wrote my review.
What I wrote at the time:
“…being presented with a rich and varied opening song from the quintet of Holmes and Mackinstosh alongside guitarist Aaron Aedy, bassist Stephen Edmondson and relatively new drummer Waltteri Väyrynen, should be something long-term fans should be able to take within their stride. And, to be honest, after the initial, temporary, mild discombobulation, so have I.
… after a couple of listens where I clearly had cotton wool for ears and as such wasn’t listening carefully enough, early feelings of ‘it’s ok’ have grown to a point where I’m fully revelling in listening to an album that shows demonstrably that the UK doom and gloom stalwarts are at the very top of their game.
What else can one really say except ‘well played Paradise Lost, well played indeed’, whilst doffing one’s cap in their direction. I have enjoyed the heavier material that Paradise Lost have been plundering over the last few years, but when blended with those rich Gothic overtones, and sense of morose, dark drama, this is the band at their best. And ‘Obsidian’ is undoubtedly the product of a special band at the peak of their morose powers.”
Read the full review here.
The list this year so far…
If you’ve missed my lists from previous years, you can check them out here: