It seems things are creeping back to… normal *touch wood*. Pioneers of goth metal Paradise Lost and Moonspell take over Glasgow for their Obsidian Moon Tour. With both pioneers crafting music for over three decades, it’s very welcome that there are no supporting acts, permitting both veterans to deploy longer sets to better reflect their careers.
Portugal’s most accomplished metal export Moonspell take the stage, armed with the introspective ‘The Greater Good’ from last year’s Hermitage album. This year sees the band enjoying its thirtieth year of existence; it’s unsurprising that they unfurl an engaging and full-bodied live experience. ‘Common Prayers’ chases the opener, still demonstrating their freshest music for the Garage. Despite their active performance, the venue’s sound is unforgiving, with guitars getting corroded a little in the mix. The more familiar set staple ‘Opium’ coaxes the crowd into more lively spirits. Frontman Fernando Ribeiro is amicable in his stage banter, embracing the return to the stage and praising one of their original inspirations – Paradise Lost – for taking them on tour.
The set concentrates on the latter portion of Moonspell’s goth metal discography. ‘Night Eternal’, ‘Extinct’, ‘Breathe (Until We Are No More)’ and ‘Hermitage’ validate how far the quintet have ventured in their musical observations. Song structures are more complex, harbouring a wealth of emotive gothic romanticism. However, their origins are not left forsaken; ‘Alma Mater’ from 1995’s debut Wolfheart gets the congregation moving with its punchy rhythms and atmospheric vigour. The curtain-calling paean is the beloved ‘Full Moon Madness’, etching the venue with icy guitar leads and a mournful ambience, a perfect way to conclude their hour-long set.
After a half hour changeover, English goth metal vanguards Paradise Lost commence their set with ‘Widow’ from their 1993 classic Icon. This delicious blend of rigorous riffs paired with quintessential ‘90s gothic moods promptly gets the blood circulating around the venue. With a career that dips into five decades, it’s impressive that the Yorkshire band’s lineup remains intact since their debut, besides the addition of Finnish drummer Walterri Väyrynen in 2016.
Equally as remarkable is that, unlike most artists with a career this even half this long, Paradise Lost are still highly capable of releasing formidable full-lengths that always make competitive album of the year lists. 2020’s Obsidian is loaded with mournful metal hymns and a sizeable selection of the songs materialise live tonight. ‘Fall From Grace’ is a celebration of opposites. It bleeds meandering melodic guitar leads and rhythmic distorted chugs from axemen Greg Mackintosh and Aaron Aedy with Nick Holmes’ hallowed singing and bitter growls. The hard-hitting ‘Serenity’ gets heads banging and fists pumping with its rolling thunder drums and bass weaving among undulating guitar work. This track contrasts with the slower-paced ‘The Devil Embraced’ and its sinister yet ear worm-y chorus.
With such a storied discography, the quintet whisk the audience away on a whirlwind tour of their genre-defining oeuvre. Younger songs, including ‘The Plague Within’, ‘Beneath Broken Earth’ and ‘Blood and Chaos’ sit alongside hardened classics like ‘Eternal’, ‘Say Just Words’ and ‘The Last Time’. Even a song from the divisive new wave/goth rock release Host is served up in the form of ‘So Much is Lost’. The only drawback from this live show is Holmes’ vocals getting lost in the mix, with the drums and keyboards overshadowing. Nonetheless, he is an affable frontman with friendly and humorous banter, thankfully not bothering to linger on the dreaded C-word much. An hour and a half storms by and before long it’s the final ode of the night; the set ends with another delectable Obsidian song, ‘Ghosts’, wielding demonstrable Sisters of Mercy appreciation.
While other UK metal tours were cancelled this month due to the plague, it’s fantastic that this show was spared. The live return of two goth metal icons at their best on a chilly winter Friday night is a perfect way to kick start a devious weekend.