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I can't help but feel that the dislike/indifference towards this album is based on the title moreso than the music. The title alludes to a bunch of pretty irritating things- an arrogant boast from MDB that it's a rush job, a failed attempt at being deep (which based on interviews seems to be what it is), and just general shittiness all round. But really, aside from Heroin Chic this isn't that big of a departure from the typical MDB fare, and some of the material here sits easily among their best. It's hell of a lot more interesting than most of their mid-era stuff, anyway.
My generally favourable viewpoint here can probably be entirely attributed to that flat out beast that's the first song (first impressions and all that stuff). "The Whore, The Cook and The Mother" is one of the finest songs MDB have done. Aaron's nasal, soaring vocals over that massive guitar riff is hard to beat. The album seems to carry a theme of "having sex with someone while on drugs" (or alternatively, drugs in general), and the ecstasy fueled moneyshot that's this song is a fantastic example of. Sure, the ambient section is a bit long but it just makes the return to the massive intro riff even better.
Yeah, the first song doesn't really get touched by the rest of the record but that's hardly surprising; it's a fantastic song and MDB always have that one song per album that rises above the rest. Things continue on a fairly solid note throughout the album, however. "Der Uberblende" is typically solid death/doom/sob rock from these guys, "Apocalypse Woman" a competently done faster track with some pretty cool riffs, and the one-two punch of the last tracks end this on a really solid note- wah pedal abuse aside "Base level erotica" mines a rich vein of slow, desperate and hypnotic doom- the majestic and really damn depressing outro is a really fine bit of music, whereas "Under Your Wings..." is typically solid My Dying Bride; a few excellent riffs and leads arranged with a very careful hand, graceful, despairing, pretty damn solid.
One amazing song, two great songs and a few decent ones.. no different from the usual, then? The whole "not really all that different from the usual" theme is continued by the one typical a-grade turd (and ironically the only genuinely weird song on the album), "Heroin Chic". It's not a bad idea and I can sort of applaud them for trying something genuinely different, but the simple fact is that 8 minutes is way too long for a trip-hop song, especially one as lacking as this. Not really any progression, just a repetitive drum beat, the instruments meandering on uninteresting, worthless patterns, and a rather boring vocal delivery by Aaron. It's a really, really average bit of work, just a bunch of ideas thrown together for no real reason then, perhaps, to be different. It's an awful song.
But again, when we come down to it, when you have a look through their catalogue, this is nothing new. Heroin Chic is musically their worst song, possibly, but it's no more boring then, say, "Shadowhaunt", it's less cheesy then "The Blood, The Wine, The Roses" and it's a lot more daring then the entire "Like Gods of the Sun" album. Ok, so perhaps the production and mix is somewhat weak; keys are too loud in places, drums sound flat, the vocals sound cheap and fairly average. Nonetheless, with a skip button handy I think this is quite a good album; not MDB's best, perhaps, but certainly a few of the songs hold their own with anything else they've done, and most of it is decent enough. I'd recommend this to everyone, whether you're a fan or not you owe it to yourself to check out the first song.
(originally written for www.heathenharvest.com)