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I am a huge My Dying Bride fan... and that’s why I WON'T defend this album. It would be far too easy to hide behind statements like “At least, they’ve had enough balls to try something different” or “They don’t care for selling” or whatever. At least when Moonsorrow, well-known for their epic and bombastic Viking metal, recorded a grindcore album, they had the good taste to release it under a different band name (Lakupaavi). When you release something under My Dying Bride name, make it good or bad, but make it at least sound like My Dying Bride, not like some atmospheric/indus/gothic/avant-garde/noise crap.
Ultra-distorted vocals and guitars, overwhelming use of keyboards, lyrics about sex and/or mental illness, shitty artwork between raw art and industrial trend or neverending tracks filled with useless background sound effects are never likely to give a good release. This is indeed not. The songs here, without being utterly fast, are slightly higher-paced than on any other MDB release, but that don’t prevent them from being incredibly boring. Actually, the majority of MDB slow-paced death/doom songs are NOT boring, while these are. Why? No structure, and far too much of the crappy indus stuff mentioned before, which almost constitute the core of most of the songs.
Overall, this album bears one good track, and the six others rank from average to unlistenable. Average includes Der Uberlebende, a slightly melancholic piece of work with solemn keyboards and not too distorted guitars, but which is just too repetitive and sleep-inducing, and Under Your Wings And Into Your Arms. This last track is said to be the only 34.788%’s song a bit close to usual MDB work, and it’s indeed the only song from this album the band is used to playing live, as far as I’m aware of. Granted, it is less atmospheric and industrial than the other tracks, less keyboard-filled, far more guitar-driven, but it’s still not standard My Dying Bride, if only because of the faster tempo. And to be honest the band has done far better.
Then, mediocre tracks includes first the opener The Whore, The Cook And The Mother, which is one of the best works here musically-wise, but which is ruined by the use of distorted vocals and above all by the awful over-long middle part of noise, electronics and senseless background babble. Then The Stance Of Evander Sinoue and Base Level Erotica which, apart from boasting some of the worst titles I could think of, show just too much guitar distortion and vocal effects to be really enjoyable. A pity, because Base Level Erotica especially exhibits otherwise one of the most haunting and beautiful tunes MDB has ever thought of, and the end, when the aforementioned tune, backed by eerie and majestic keyboards, is repeated over and over again, can stand the comparison with the band’s finest moments. So the connoisseur just feels like screaming: why the fuck didn’t you use all your great ideas to produce a genuine MDB masterpiece rather than wrapping everything in this pseudo-avant-garde shit?
The unlistenable is the fourth track Heroin Chic, which is, well... unlistenable from the first minute to the last. Other tracks may be crappy music, but are still music, while this one is not. This one is pure indus noise, and I’m ready to bet half of my metal collection that the drums and more generally two thirds of the “music” here are programmed. Aaron, singing in duet with some unknown chick, sounds just pitiful, even more pitiful than on The Whore, The Cock And The Loser. Oh, sorry, he doesn’t sing, he raps. I’m not joking. If you like MDB as much as I do, please do yourself a favour and scratch this track to never be tempted to give it a listen.
To conclude on a more positive note I will eventually mention the good track, Apocalypse Woman, some song about a stalker and a slut or something similar, lyrically nothing really different from the rest of the album. Musically-wise it is another story even if it has strictly nothing to do with standard MDB and with doom metal in general. A minimalist semi-acoustic riff, neverending drums rolls and a slight touch of background atmospheric keyboards concur in building a very gloomy and oppressive atmosphere well in touch with the lyrics. And you know what? The song even exhibits a genuine SOLO. To sum up they just should have released an EP with this track and a bunch of live versions of some of their good old doom anthems; I would have been the first to praise them.
The mark is written on the cover. Stupid joke, but My Dying Bride themselves have been stupid to record this album in the first place. Granted, it is art. But it is shitty art.
Highlights: Apocalypse Woman