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After the loss of a major band member, most bands are often stuck at a crossroad. They ether try and find a replacement and continue releasing albums in the vein of the ones prior,or take the loss as an opportunity to experiment and try thing they wouldn’t have otherwise. In the case of My Dying Bride, with the loss of violinist Martin Powell, they took option B.
“34.788%... Complete” is sort of the black sheep in the My Dying Bride discography. Fans are often divided on it, some calling it a masterpiece, wishing that they never returned to their doom roots, while others treat it like an unwanted child cursing its very existence. My stance is somewhere in between, it is a very strong and unique album indeed, but it lacks the beauty that makes a majority of My Dying Bride’s releases so special.
First off, this is not a doom album, not in the least. It has doom elements but it has a more industrial, gothic and experimental sound. The music is still dark, but in a different way than previous albums. While albums such as “Turn Loose the Swans” are dark in a more tragic and theatrical sense, “34%” is dark in a more dirty, scummy and drug fueled way.
This may not be apparent on the first three tracks as they all retain their doom roots to a certain degree but once the almost dance like synth of “Heroin Chic “ starts up, the album keeps descending in this direction. “Heroin Chic” is possibly one of the strangest and dirtiest songs My Dying Bride have ever made. The song itself is very synth driven song, with Aaron pseudo-rapping over a very Euro- pop sounding female vocal sample. The lyrics revovle around a very blunt description of the drug lifestyle, and are void of the poetic nature of their previous albums.
The next two songs “Apocalypse Woman” and “Base Level Erotica” both are lyrically centered on raw dirty depictions of sex, which is a major change from the romantic depections of sex and love portrayed on their album's up to this point. “Apocalypse Woman” is probably the highlight of the album as it features one of the best bass lines and catchiest choruses in any My Dying Bride song. Another major change can be found on the album closer “Under Your Wings and Into Your Arms”, which is probably the catchiest and most upbeat song in the bands career. The main riff is very bouncy, and dare I say it….fun.
“34.788%... Complete” is not a bad album, quite the opposite in fact, but those looking for a doom album with the traditional My Dying Bride sound might want to look elsewhere. Fans who embrace change or who may not have liked My Dying Bride prior should give this unique and drug fueled album a chance, its well worth it.