Album Review: Limb Hymns by Cynicism

Releasing just in time for the July 3 bandcamp event where the service waives their profit sharing for artists, Boston’s Cynicism releases this illustrious debut album of grind-laden, gore-filled death metal songs with “Limb Hymns”.

This album is an excellent collection of death metal songs that are sure to please anyone who is a fan of those nasty riffs, pounding blast beats and fills with lots of *ting* and lots of chug, lyrical themes centered around cerial killers and dismemberment, and clever song titles that indicate dark humorous undertones. This one made me really miss live shows right now, there’s nothing like a good death/grind show, and I can tell this shit would be super fun to experience live. Hopefully when the virus chills out, I’ll get to see these guys make a stop through Rochester.

Check it out available now on their Bandcamp, in digital or CD format and with a cool little merch package available too! Good stuff. Hope to see you all on the road soon!

EP Review: Ascension by Thirsting Altar

Black metal serves the purpose of exploring the darkest parts of human nature. It gives voice to primitive dark emotions that we no longer have adequate names for. It’s a feeling most humans try to forget. Those of us that embrace our darker elements are drawn to these most extreme forms of music. If you’re a fan of extreme metal, I’m sure you know that feeling I’m talking about. It weighs heavy in your head, makes you grit your teeth and ball your fists, and sits right in the pit of your gut.

When I first listened to Ascension, the 3-track debut EP by the Portland-based two-piece black metal project Thirsting Altar coming out on July 14, I was hit with that feeling that made me fall in love with black metal the first time I heard it. With pounding drums, heavy and driven riffs, and the same adventurous experimentation that the pioneers of the genre have demonstrated throughout the years, it evoked all those old feelings that made me want to paint my face and hang out in the forest at night as a teenager – with a little less cheese. 

Thirsting Altar’s debut EP, “Ascension” is a concept album about a man who, driven to despair, turns to the dark path of the occult, allowing the opening of a gateway to the chaos realm. Disgusted with his world, longing for a way out, he turns to darkness. Through this isolation and loathing of himself and others comes transformation, but first must come self-annihilation. His spiritual path reaches its zenith as he surrenders, witnessing chaos’ ultimate plan and pledging himself as servant to its design.

This is a short and sweet one, so I’ll keep this review short and sweet. Thirsting Altar delivers a brooding, bold and sinister modern interpretation of the black metal genre with this EP. And I will be bookmarking these guys as an artist to watch in the future. Excited to hear more!

You can check out the EP for yourself when it is released digitally on July 14th through Spotify, iTunes, Google Play and Bandcamp.

Album Review: Dethlehem – Maelstrom of the Emerald Dragon

Our longtime love of the warriors of Dethlehem is not a secret. This RPG themed melodic death band from Pittsburgh, PA was our go-to headliner for every Metal Webzine anniversary show; including this last one which didn’t happen due to COVID. From the first time I ever saw them at Broadway Joe’s back in 2013 or so, to the first time I bought out their supply of foam swords for an epic battle at Rockin’ Buffalo Saloon in 2016, these guys have been a Metal Webzine STAPLE. I’ve never found a “gimmick” band at their level so appealing before. Sure, many bands do the medieval armor thing, coupled with their own mystical lore, but Dethlehem have a personality all their own, and that’s why I’m once again happy to review a new record from them.

The album is called Maelstrom of the Emerald Dragon. It includes 5 theatrical tracks and 8 musical tracks, all telling the story of the dark elf, Veldras, who seeks dominion over a cosmic force known as the Emerald Dragon. With this force, she seeks to conquer the realm, and of course, it’s up to the warriors of Dethlehem to stop her at the behest of an ancient wizard.

Right off the bat, we’re greeted with a tale of the end of the universe and an ominous message claiming that the warriors of Dethlehem are dead. The eerie voice informs the listener that they’re about to take a journey back to the dawn of creation, leading us into a brilliant acoustic passage that makes me happy to be alive. This all acts as a segue to the first actual song, “A Tale that Time Forgot”.

Layered with thrashy drums, harmonized, quickly alt-picked, note driven riffing, and a beautifully syncopated harsh vocal pattern spinning a story of ancient times, it’s impossible for any fan of melodic death not to fall in love. And as is typically the case with most Dethlehem releases, the word “epic” just doesn’t do it justice. Fantastical lyrics, beautifully intertwined clean vocal breaks, heavy, chunky chorus riffs and higher registered guitar melodies founded in classical music, all make up Dethlehem’s captivating sound. It doesn’t matter if you’re not all that into melodic death metal or Dungeons and Dragons either. Another brilliant thing about the band is that despite their ultra specific themes and get-ups, they’re still very accessible to most fans of metal and hard rock music. They even throw in the occasional “breakdown”, though I don’t see anyone in the fan base doing spin kicks or fighting “the invisible ninjas” anytime soon. Dethlehem write tasteful “chunk and chug” in moderation, leaving the hardcore kids disappointed and the metal kids out of breath.

I love this band.

I could go on and on about every track, but I’ll just wrap this up with a favorite. My top track on MOTED is DEFINITELY “On the Backs of Giants”. I think it’s one of the more diverse tracks, but it also has the best riffs and the catchiest clean vocal melodies in my opinion. It also toggles back and forth between melodic/epic riffing and tasty grooves quite a bit, while keeping everything hooky and note driven throughout. The bombastic sounding keys/synths that come and go throughout the album also add a special something, giving the intros, choruses and outros big evocative boosts across the entire record.

Once again, the warriors of Dethlehem have produced a gem. And I won’t be spoiling the ending of this epic tale, so you’ll just have to grab the album for yourselves to discover the fate of the universe!

Due to COVID, there will be no CD release show for MOTED, however the band is planning a live Facebook event, complete with skits and a full playthrough of the album. Both the album release and the Facebook event take place on July 17, 2020.

You can find the event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/255296479092685/

Dethlehem are:

The legend of DETHLEHEM began in the realm of GHORUSALEM many eons ago. During their journey, the warriors of DETHLEHEM have traveled through time and space to do battle against dragons, wizards, warlocks, leviathans, shape-shifters, and a shit ton of other things that needed to DIE.

MEMBER BACKSTORY:

BRUTALITUS THE BLOODBEARD
LVL-30 (War Cry)

Brutalitus hails from a Dethlehem of another time…before the first cataclysm. Born into royalty, he was once a honorable protector of the land alongside his brother Sulumor. An ancient evil was accidentally unleashed by his brother and covered the world in darkness, also cursing his left eye which is referred to as the “Eye of the Abyss”.


BOVICE
LVL-32 (Lead Axe)

A virtuous White Knight who holds a strong bond to the good spirited, yet holds no remorse in his ferocity. Bovice has an unprecedented power to reach Insanity LVL-10 if his Intimidation check is high enough. However, even without a modifier, Bovice’s Pretentiousness is MAX LEVEL.


OVERLORD BROM
LVL-?? (War Drums)

Brom is a very powerful brute knight who never takes his helmet off unless he gets hot and is always prepared for battle. Rumor has it that he slipped out of his mother’s womb with ease when the midwives greased his helmet with old butter. Today, Brom enjoys the three Bs of life — beer, boobs, and battle!

GRIMSHAW LONGFELLOW LVL-12” (Guitar With Less Strings) Grimshaw is the ranger of the group. He’s a dude. Legend has it that he is still a virgin.

Album Review: Wasted Space – I Repeat Myself When I’m In Distress

From the creators of Squatch, comes a brand-new arrangement of groovy riffs and heavy tones for WNY to sink its teeth into. Wasted Space‘s EP, I Repeat Myself When I’m In Distress is a fun listen on YouTube, catering to fans of sludge, hardcore, modern death metal and even a dash of punk rock. Much like with Squatch, Jeremy Swartout is back with his usual arsenal of simple grooves, chaotic speed picking patterns and cacophony of dissonant chords, providing a nice, thick layer of “CHONK” beneath Matt Lupkin’s harsh vocals.

Vocally, this EP I feel, has a lot in common with Poison the Well, Norma Jean and The Chariot. So, basically, the tones at the forefront of this album hearken back to the metalcore and hardcore bands leading the scene in the early 2000s. All this being said though, it’s hard for me to find anything wrong with this release. The nostalgia I feel when listening to I Repeat Myself When I’m In Distress makes it difficult for me to be objective. But on THAT note, could this album be “dated”?

After two full listens, I’m confident that there’s enough modern influence in these songs to cater to a younger crowd. People fairly new to the scene who are into this style will probably like it, while at the same time, this EP will GREATLY appeal to people like me in their mid-thirties, who were coming up in the scene twenty years ago and LOVING all the aforementioned bands leading the charge for metalcore and hardcore.

Switching gears now, I’ve heard Collin Folger (drums) play a number of styles proficiently. From straight forward heavy metal, to deathcore, to progressive, to the amalgamation that Wasted Space have become, Folger has definitely set a bar for himself and others. Speaking as a former drummer, he always has me guessing and his choices and arrangements are always spot-on.

Yet, the same can also be said for guitarist/bassist, Jeremy Swartwout, when it comes to his diversity as a player. Between Squatch and Wasted Space, Jeremy has brought a nice versatility vibe into the scene that will hopefully continue to churn out quality for years to come.

Personally, I’ll be tucking I Repeat Myself When I’m In Distress into my stack of almost twenty-year-old metalcore albums, and sneaking it into an online playlist of Poison the Well, Norma Jean and Dillinger Escape Plan songs. But again, younger fans of these styles should also love this. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last twenty years, it’s that breakdowns, dissonant chords, “chonky” riffs and bloodcurdling screams aren’t going anywhere. It doesn’t matter how “modern” your sound is, or how hard you “djent” in this crisp, digital metal age we are living in. Wasted Space’s sound is just as accessible now as it was twenty years ago. I look forward to more music from them. Cheers.

Wasted Space are:

Drums – Collin Folger
Guitar/Bass – Jeremy Swartwout
Vocals – Matt Lupkin

Check out the new EP on YouTube here:

Halothane: A Serpent’s Gaze review and interview

Halothane’s second full length album The Serpent’s Gaze is due to be released on May 30th. They’ve released it’s first track “Threads of Authenticity”, which I was given the pleasure of premiering on this week’s episode of Grim Dystopian podcast and is now available for streaming on their bandcamp. 

For me this is an exciting and pivotal release from a band I’ve been closely involved with since 2010. This is the first time in a long time I’ve heard all entirely new material from Halothane. On A False Reality some songs were re-workings of tracks on their debut EP Dissention, as well as material they’d been working on here and there for a few years before (as is bound to happen with 6 years between those two releases). Halothane has really pushed themselves with this release, delivering some killer tracks that display a new level of maturity and nuance. The old Halothane sound is there, but now cranked up to 11.

When I told Halothane’s Nicholas Alan that I’d be on this podcast and thought it would be cool if I could premier a song from their upcoming album, since the episode would be coming out just before its scheduled released, he was all for it, and basically sent me the whole album and had me pick out which song I’d premier. I knew right away it had to be Threads. That opening riff just grabs you and pulls you in. I get these little guitar melodies stuck in my head all the time. I knew this was a song that people would really connect with.

I’m not really one for breaking down each song individually, plus I find that kind of boring, so I’m not going to do that. All I will say is this album is exciting, dynamic, with varied tempos and moods, and even a surprising amount of clean singing on the last track. It really sets the bar high for the local melodic death metal scene. I’m very excited for everyone to be able to hear the rest of this album.

I had a chance to do a little virtual interview with Nicholas, founding member and the man behind the mixing console at Subterranean Audio where this album was put together, to talk about the album and future plans for Halothane.

Rachel Ardour: How did you approach the writing aspect differently on this album as opposed to previous releases?

Nicholas Alan: We approached this one as more of a collaborative effort. Everyone who wanted a say in the songs did their part and I feel like it comes across as a much more cohesive effort.

RA: What kind of new studio tricks were used recording this, or any special equipment you’d like to give credit to for the sound?

NA: We used this record as a trial by fire for the new studio we built. I could bore you discussing all the new microphones and studio toys we’ve been playing with but one of the standout things that had a huge effect on the sound of this one was our switch to Mesa/Boogie amps.

RA: What artists, authors, movies, etc. were you inspired by during the writing and recording process?

NA: Musically, the biggest influences on this one were Enslaved, Opeth, and Insomnium. We’re obviously huge fans of the Gothenburg stuff so Dark Tranquillity, At the Gates, and the older In Flames stuff deserves to be mentioned too!

Speaking for myself here with the other influences, I was digging into Albert Camus, Luke Rhinehart, and Aldous Huxley during the writing and recording process. 

RA: What was everyone’s main beverage of choice during the recording for this album?

NA: It’s hard to imagine Joe Sno without a six pack of Saranac Pale Ale and Joe Tash doesn’t really have a beverage of choice, I mean he’ll drink almost anything as long as it’s not scotch, which along with coffee happens to be my beverage of choice

RA: Any plans for physical releases, new merch to come out with this release?

NA: Most definitely. The pandemic screwed everything up; we’re constantly working with our friend Justin on new designs for T-shirts and other merch and as long as the demand is there we’ll be cranking some new stuff out during the next couple months.

RA: Obviously everything is up in the air right now, but do you think we can expect a sort of CD release/celebration show for this when everything opens back up?

NA: We were supposed to do a CD release show May 30th but obviously due to current events that won’t happen, so as soon as we get the okay we’ll be working on putting together a banger with some of our favorite bands from the region. Even if we can’t do it at a traditional venue we’ll be exploring our options and we’ll make sure it’ll be one to remember!

The album is currently available for preorder on Halothane’s bandcamp page.

Halothane Facebook
Halothane on Spotify
Halothane on iTunes
Subterranean Audio
Grim Dystopian: Metal for your Filthy Earballs

Album Review: TINES – 2-Song EP

Word about Tines has gotten around. People ask me to describe the band all the time. I always end up saying something like, “They’re just the perfect balance between classic rock and classic heavy metal.” Then, someone will reply with something like, “Really? I just heard they were a local metal band from Buffalo, so I thought they’d be death metal before anything else. You know, like Cannibal Corpse?” Then, I’ll say, “Nah, this band has more in common with Led Zeppelin than Cannibal Corpse. BUT DON’T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT!”

It’s funny how many assumptions get made in the local scene around here. I don’t just mean about Tines; I mean about the many locals that many national show attendees just don’t have the drive to research. This brings me to Tines’s 2-song EP, released April 2, 2020. I heard this for the first time at Music Matters in Niagara Falls the other day. (Yes, Rob is still open and it’s perfectly legitimate. He’s a 1-man business.) Glenn (guitar) was kind enough to leave me a 7-inch to sink my teeth into. You also have to respect the hell out of a band that will put a 2-song EP out on 7-inch in 2020. Last year, vinyls outsold CDs for the first time in who knows how long, but after a devastating fire at a major vinyl production factory in California, it’s uncertain as to how those numbers will be this year; especially with the pandemic on top of all that. But still, Tines are staying true to their roots, right down to the format they choose to represent themselves on.

To simply call this band “Rock ‘n’ Roll”, doesn’t do them the slightest bit of justice. Tines are just as unique, as they are high energy. I’ve seen them a number of times on various Buffalo stages over the past few years, and I can tell you that each and every performance I witnessed was filled with stellar musicianship and an over-the-top passion for the band’s craft.

“Well, are they closer to rock, or are they closer to metal?”

Who can say and who really cares? They band’s catchy, upbeat nature can be compared equally to both sides of that coin.

“Would fans of both enjoy Tines?”

Absolutely. I can’t say the same for the harsh vocal (scream vocal) elite, but for the open-minded metalhead who enjoys the classics upon which the genre was founded, I’d say that Tines will not leave you disappointed. They’ve got an energy and style will keep your ears glued to your speakers or your eyes glued to a stage. And at the same time, rock fans who love the classic upbeat styles of the ’70s and ’80s would …or should …appreciate Tines just the same.

Still not convinced? Looking for examples? I’m not looking to get crucified for my comparisons, but I’ll share with you, who I immediately thought of after taking in Tines’s 2-song EP.

Risky comparisons:

Iron Maiden (especially at the start of track 1, “Thin Blue Line”; I’m thinking the The Number of the Beast era)

Motley Crue (the mid-paced songs on Too Fast for Love)

Led Zeppelin (LZ II era)

Vixen (“Edge of a Broken Heart”)

The Beatles (upbeat songs)

The Rolling Stones (upbeat songs)

There you have it. My on-the-fly, risky comparison list is complete. Is Tines for everyone? No, but fans of “the classics” in rock and metal EVERYWHERE need to at least give them a shot.

Check out the “new” Tines here: https://tinesrock.bandcamp.com/

Tines are:

Eddie Pearsall – Drums
Mike Hermann – Bass Guitar
Arrow Fitzgibbon – Keyboards
Glenn Szymanski – Guitar
Kelly Murphy – Vocals

Album Review: Design the Void – Messages Through Lights

Never before, have I heard a modern metal band fuse deathcore and ’80s synth pop so well. Or at least, that was my initial impression of Design the Void’s Messages Through Lights. Hailing from Kane, Pennsylvania, these guys have certainly been forged from a uniquely diverse spread of metal influences, causing them to form a rather atypical deathcore/metalcore/djent sound. In an age where just about every modern metalcore, modern deathcore, and modern djent band with clean vocal sung choruses is sounding exactly the same as their neighbors, Design the Void are blurring the genre lines so much with this EP, that they themselves might be in line to have some copycats in the near future. Publicly, the band label themselves as simply, “metal”, which, for as broad as it is, is probably the most accurate description of the band.

Messages Through Lights is only 4 songs deep, but whilst taking in this band’s vast array of beautifully arranged keys, synths and clean guitars, along with their thick, meaty layers of chunky chug riffing, intricate soloing and lead guitar melodies, you might find yourself scratching your head at the end, wondering why the experience seemed so much longer than it was. Time displacement was one of the first side effects of Messages Through Lights that I noticed. It’s easy to get lost in this band’s transitions and interludes. Apart from their metal influences, I hear a lot of jazz and prog rock present in Design the Void’s instrumental passages, So much so that the band has developed a habit of “tripping out” mid song and producing “songs within songs”. So, if you feel like you’re having an “Inception” style moment, you’re not alone. Consider these passages, “intermissions”, where huge dollops of Between the Buried and Me influence are piled on top of an already intricately layered cake.

Naturally, a ton of respect needs to be handed off to the bassist and drummer as well, considering how eclectic sounding these 4 tracks are. Any bassist and drummer in a position to work behind this kind of guitar work have to be on their toes. You have to be at a certain level of crazy and/or ADHD, in addition to having admirable, technical musical prowess to be the right fit for a band like Design the Void. Even Tosin Abasi would smile at some of these clean guitar and key transitions (specifically in the song, “Conjected Views”), heading into the chaotically heavy and essentially, multi-rhythmic grooves Design the Void are also known for.

The instrumentalists in this band are obviously top notch in their decision making. If you’re a guitarist, bassist or drummer in a band even remotely like this, it’s important to know when to sync up with your other players, AND when to go off on your own erratic tangents. Both worlds have a place in these songs, and this style, and the guys execute both methods flawlessly.

All this being said, in the realm of harsh vocals, this EP is a vocal labyrinth ON TOP of everything else. I never have enough to say about this vocalist. For the past four years, he’s been my favorite “screamer” in this scene, hands down. The man doesn’t just have “a range”. This vocalist uses an expertly layered web of characters. For every riff, he has a unique character with a unique story at the ready to take the lead. There are way too many monotone harsh vocalists out there, or vocalists who might have 2-3 screams, but never leave that “pocket”. Over the past few years, I’ve gotten so sick of harsh vocals, that for the past few months, I’ve been listening to almost nothing but clean singing. Yet, here I am, getting excited about screams again. It doesn’t matter if you’re not into Design the Void’s style of music. Many elitists of a certain metal generation won’t like Design the Void on principle, because it’s too great a departure from the pioneers of death metal, metalcore or djent. Regardless, there’s no denying a great vocalist, a great guitarist, a great bassist, or a great drummer, or even a great composer, when you hear one. Design the Void are a band lucky enough to have top notch players at every station. And yes, a man’s throat is in fact an instrument.

Go check out Messages Through Lights by, Design the Void by visiting the links below. Cheers.

Design the Void are:

Jesse Isadore – Vocals

Josh Johnson – Drums, Clean Vocals

Jeffrey Pennachio – Lead Guitar, Synth, Sampling

Koden Thompson – Guitar, Backing Vocals

designthevoidband@gmail.com

https://designthevoid.bandcamp.com

https://www.instagram.com/designthevoid/

Also, check out the podcast episode we did with vocalist, Jesse Isadore:

https://soundcloud.com/zee-metal/episode-13-jesse-isadore-design-the-void

Album Review: Turning Virtue – Beautiful

If there’s one thing local bands aren’t known for, it’s longevity. Turning Virtue, however, are quite the exception. Since 1992, David Karczewski and his closest buds have been churning out music for the WNY masses and beyond. As I learned on a recent episode of our podcast, the Turning Virtue story started out with punk rock and eventually morphed into the prog rock/metal amalgamation we hear today. The band’s new album, Beautiful, is due sometime in the summer of 2020, but of course, we were fortunate enough to be granted an advance listen.

Clocking in at 45 minutes, between 7 tracks, Beautiful is an eclectic, spacey journey into the unknown from start to finish. From soft rock, to jazz esque passages, to soft, spoken word segments, to heavy, distorted crushers, it’s hard to get too comfortable when taking in this album. I say this all the time, so I sound like a broken record, but I highly recommend taking this entire album in, in a single sitting the first time around. Musically, it’s incredibly diverse, and it’s important to hear every transition in succession before passing judgment.

It’d be easy to compare this album to the likes of Dream Theater, Fates Warning, Rush and other popular prog titans, but honestly, there’s only one Turning Virtue. It’s hard to adequately describe their sound without laundry listing several bands, genres and subgenres.

My favorite song on the album is, by far, track 4, “Bridge Toward Home”. At 10:44, it’s the perfect summary of Turning Virtue’s sound, as well as a full realization of their potential at this stage in their development. “Bridge Toward Home” showcases my favorite lyrics, vocal melodies, guitar riffs, solos, drum and bass licks, etc., all while traversing some pretty uncharted sonic waters. I’ve never heard a prog band cross this many “bridges”, within a single song. All of my favorite eras of prog rock and metal are covered in these 10 minutes and 44 seconds, so I can’t say enough about it.

Beautiful is just as much the perfect road trip album, as it is the perfect lounging around album. It was also nice to take a break from our usual harsh vocal infused content. There isn’t a single scream on this entire album, though Davey K. does cover a huge amount of the clean vocal spectrum throughout this exceptional piece from Turning Virtue.

Turning Virtue are:

David Karczewski – Vocals, guitars

DPA – Bass

Mark Hellenbach – guitars

Mark Zonder- studio drums

Rob Thurman – live drums

Album Review: Paradise Lost – Obsidian

It’s safe to say that Paradise Lost‘s sixteenth studio album is just what the doctor ordered for this pandemic season. The most common descriptor for this band is “Gothic metal”, but they’re so much more than that and I’ve always thought this.

My first Paradise Lost experience was at The Docks in Toronto in 2007. They were opening for Nightwish at the time. I was completely blown away by their set and I wish I could relive it again and again. Paradise Lost is my go-to band when I’m feeling too many emotions at once to properly process my feelings. One of my favorite things to find in a metal band’s formula is just the right amount of melancholy. If done right, I’ll almost never snub a band who incorporates it.

When it comes to their guitars, Paradise Lost are a band who sacrifice “flash” for the melody, yet they still implement just the right amount of flare to raise an eyebrow. I’ve always respected guitar players more for their songwriting abilities than their shredding capabilities. Obsidian is another step in this infectious direction of guitar writing. Once again, Paradise Lost are intertwining heavy chord progressions, catchy melodies, intricate hammer-on-laden harmonies and commanding solos that demand your attention during some serious grooves. All this said, Paradise Lost’s rhythm section is closer to the forefront of the band than even many of their avid listeners realize. Really, it’s the drum and bass choices that give the band’s low tones so much extra girth during heavy grooves. At the same time, it’s the drummer who truly works in tandem with the vocalist to determine the “mood” of each passage of each song. Tempo and rhythmic vibes can be everything when conveying darker emotions through music.

Vocally, what can be said? Fans of this band have been saying it for years. I’ve been saying it for years. Every Paradise Lost album represents another vocal victory for this genre and Obsidian is no exception. Lyrically, this is another depressive, brutally honest and evocative piece. And no set of poignant lyrics such of these would be complete without a barrage of heavy, harsh rasps with powerful diction, nor the vocal melodies carrying many of these songs which are nothing short of perfect. If there’s one thing you can clearly hear throughout this spectacular album, it’s the chemistry between Nick Holmes (vocals), Gregor Mackintosh (lead guitar/keyboards), Aaron Aedy (rhythm guitar) and Stephen Edmondson (bass). Since 1988, these four have been the creative epicenter of this long-lasting Gothic, death-doom combo. As is common, especially in metal (lol), the band’s most frequent lineup changes have been in the drum department. But again, with these four having been at the helm of the band for so long, it’s hard to mess up Paradise Lost’s formula from behind the kit. Waltteri Väyrynen joined the band on drums at some point in 2015 (I believe) and has been killing it, regardless.

I must confess, it wasn’t until just recently that a few new songs from Paradise Lost appeared on Spotify, that I even realized that Obsidian was on the horizon. Not to mention, this album is aptly named. It’s only fitting that a band named for a ten-book, ten-thousand-line poem about the Fall of Man, would name their latest album after an igneous rock, that just happens to be incredibly dark, volcanic glass. Obsidian is a dark, DARK album, just like all the others; but to set this one apart from the rest of the band’s discography, Obsidian tells a musical story that almost fits the world’s current predicament a little too well. Like it or not, the world is unified in a dark time right now. COVID-19 has, in many ways, changed our way of thinking. Depression is running rampant in a way I’m personally unfamiliar with, which is once again why I say that this album has come about at the ideal time. When I listen to this album, my swirl of emotions is aligned and channeled, and suddenly everything is made right again. I can only hope it’s doing the same for others. I also hope that Paradise Lost release another sixteen albums before the end of their career.

Paradise Lost hail from Yorkshire, England. Obsidian was released yesterday (5/15/20) on Nuclear Blast.