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PARADISE LOST (MARCH 2020)


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GOTHIC METAL



The representatives of gothic metal are back with a new album, "Obsidian", that guitarist Greg Mackintosh came to present to Music Waves readers.
DARIALYS - 18.05.2020 -
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Born at the end of the 80's, Paradise Lost is today one of the unavoidable figures of gothic metal. The English band is releasing this year its 16th album, called "Obsidian". The band's original guitarist, Greg Mackintosh, talks to us about the background of this opus while giving his opinion about the current health situation and the music industry.

"Obsidian" is the 16th album of Paradise Lost. The first single, 'Fall From Grace', has just been released, and it is the link with the previous album. Can we consider "Obsidian" as a sequel to "Medusa"?

Greg : No, it's just a chronological sequence but there is no direct link. 'Fall From Grace' is the first song I wrote for "Obsidian". That's probably why it reminds of "Medusa" in style. But when you listen to the whole album, you realize that there are a lot of different things in it, and it's different from "Medusa". I wouldn't say there is a continuity between "Obsidian" and "Medusa". "Medusa" was a Doom album. This one is more varied, more eclectic.


The cover of "Obsidian" is very elaborate and it's all in shades and shadows with many elements. Is the purpose precisely to show that this album is varied and eclectic?

Greg: In a way, yes. We wanted a cover that reflects the pagan beliefs of the time. It has nothing to do with our beliefs because we are atheists. We just thought it would go well with this album as obsidian was a volcanic rock that was widely used in British and European mythology and folklore as well as pagan iconography. The cover is a summary of all that.


I have a little question about the cover that might make you laugh. There are four nails on the cover. Are they there to hold your drummer and avoid a new drummer change (the band has had 5 drummers since its creation, editor's note).

Greg: Ah! (Laughs). Who knows? You never know with drummers! They are strange ! (Laughs).


More seriously, Waltteri Väyrynen joined the band on drums in 2016. What was his involvement in the writing of "Obsidian"?

Greg: On "Medusa" he did a very good job. This time, I asked him to do some things he's less used to. More subtle snare drum strokes, things like that. On this album, he must have had a less rock/metal approach than on "Medusa". He has more styles to cover this time.


The album starts with 'Darker Thoughts', a nice acoustic introduction with violin, which is not usual for Paradise Lost. Why this choice?

Greg: I originally started writing an intro for this album. I sent it to Nick (Holmes, on vocals, editor's note), and he added vocals that reminded me a bit of the Fleetwood Mac. Then we developed that. We thought that this song had no place on the CD, except as an introduction, because it was going to surprise people. It has the potential to divide our audience. It's something different for us but change can be a good thing! We like to challenge ourselves. I think it's a very good song and it's interesting! Let's see if it touches people!


The approach of this album comes from the gothic rock of the 80's, in the structure of the songs, especially on the songs 'Ghosts' and 'Hope Dies Young'. What explains this return to the roots for you? A form of nostalgia perhaps?

Greg : Throughout our career, we've been using these influences. We grew up with the gothic rock of the 80s. From time to time, we like to come back to it! When I wrote this album I listened to a lot of that music, which explains why some tracks have that touch, without trying to recreate the genre. We did it in our own way!


It reminded me of a mixture of Depeche Mode and The Sisters Of Mercy.

Greg: Yes, and we took it back to our own style. But it's nothing new to us. We thought it was time to go back to that!


"Obsidian" is a journey for me. From beginning to end, title after title.

Greg : Yes maybe, I guess so. We spent some time taking care of the writing for the album. So yeah I think you're right, if you're intrigued and encouraged to keep listening, it's kind of a journey, yeah. And that means we've built the set-list in the right order!


Each one of you has a parallel project to Paradise Lost. Yours is Strigoi. How much does this project feed into Paradise Lost, if at all? And why do you need to have parallel projects?

Greg : My previous side project, Vallenfyre, was born after the death of my father. That's the only reason I got into this. I put an end to it after my mother's death, as if the book had closed. When I stopped with Vallenfyre, I felt like there was a void in me, a void I needed to fill.




On 'Hope Dies Young', you seem to explain that hope diminishes as time goes by. Does this mean that only youth is hope for the future of the world, as we can draw a parallel with Greta Thundberg and the ecological situation.

Greg: I don't think so! 'Hope Dies Young' is about those dreams you have as a teenager. For a lot of people, those dreams don't come true. When you're young, it doesn't have that much impact on you. But when you grow up and look back, it's harder to accept. That doesn't mean you have to give up your dreams! That's usually why midlife crises happen! (Laughs).


'Serenity' is a surprising title. To me, this title embodies everything but serenity! Why did you choose this contrast?

Greg : We really like to play about that, about dichotomies. It's something we do often, always voluntarily. On 'Fall From Grace', the chorus is very heavy, but paradoxically, the vocals are much more subtle, silent, and clear. We really like to play on that, and surprise people.


We seem to be living in one of the darkest periods of our contemporary history. Music, like art in general, is often a refuge for people. Paradoxically, musicians are not in the best conditions to promote their art given the current situation. How do you apprehend the release of this album in this context?

Greg : That's a good question because two weeks ago, Nuclear Blast (their label, editor's note), talked to us about it. We thought that with this period of confinement, people were going to need security and comfort, and that the music was maybe too frivolous to release an album at that time. And then finally, when you think about it, we're not like animals. We don't just need warmth and light and food to live. In a situation like that, we need art even more than usual. So we made the decision not to postpone our album. We think that the current situation means that it needs to be released even more today.


 

I read somewhere and that when you feel bad, listening to dark and sad music helps you get back on track. So it goes in the direction you're pointing. Paradise Lost has a role to play with its fans, don't you think?

Greg: I don't know, I can't say that because I don't know what people's situation is, but it does for me. That's how I live the music. If our music can help people, then it's perfect. What could be better than that? It's not only Netflix, it's also music, books... If music makes you feel better, then listening to music is the best thing you can do!


When you look back at your discography, how would you situate this new album in this one? Is it a culmination, the end of a chapter, the end of a cycle?

Greg: No, I don't think so! We tried to implement new things on this album, on the songs 'Darker Thoughts' or 'Ending Days' in particular. This album covers several eras of Paradise Lost anyway.


It's a synthesis of what you've done so far.

Greg: I guess! We didn't do it on purpose, but if you know the band well, I think we can say that.


It's kind of a gift to the fans that have been following you from the beginning.

Greg: I guess, yeah! People who have listened to the album notice that this record will draw inspiration from many eras and I think that's good.


 

What do you expect from this new album? Do you expect something in particular ?

Greg: Not really. I'm a little apprehensive because of the current situation. Sales will obviously be affected by all this. 70% of people today listen to music online or streaming. But there's still 30% of people who listen to albums in physical format. But we need to release this album now for all the people who can't get out of their homes. But it's a general situation. If this album sells less than normal, all the albums will sell less.


A little word to our readers to finish?

Greg: Take care! We hope we all make it through! Music is a good way to move forward, whether it's with "Obsidian" or another album! Whatever you do, stay safe and stay calm!


Thanks a lot! Goodbye!

Greg: Thank you! See you soon!



More informations on http://www.paradiselost.co.uk
 
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LINKED LINKS
LAST REVIEW
PARADISE LOST: Obsidian (2020)
4/5

Building a bridge between the Gothic Metal of the 90s and the darker aspects that Paradise Lost has been performing for a decade, "Obsidian" is a great vintage.
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