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For almost every decent band there's that album that most people view with a look of distaste. For Metallica, most would say it was their album "St. Anger." For Alcest it would most likely be "Cailles De Lune". For Amorphis it would have been the moment they stopped doing death metal that their releases lacked any substance. But as far as My Dying Bride goes, it's a bit unclear as to where they picked up, or where they let down. For those heavily into their earliest releases, "Towards The Sinister" and "As the Flower Withers," people would say "Turn Loose The Swans" was where MDB lost it. However, since MDB is best known for their gothic doom metal, let's say for now that was the album where they found their style and really launched off their career. That would lead us to say that "For Lies I Sire" was when they released a truly uninspiring release. The follow up to this being the "Bring Me Victory EP," which was the only song of any decency from the "For Lies I Sire" album, coupled with two covers, and a live song from their first ever demo. And then they gave us "Evinta."
This album had possibly one of the best beginnings I've heard for a very long time. Their song "In Your Dark Pavilion" was an incredibly haunting ten minute track. Launching off with some soft spoken word and elegant violins dancing around each other, female operatic vocals coming in and then fading out. Keys and synth working with each other to create some truly moving moments. Horns accentuated with percussion and organs, once again topped with more operatic sections and then piano coming on it's own before more strings and synth start filling out the background before moving on. All of this works within itself for a good first five minutes of the song. But the whole composition style suddenly changes once it hits the seven minute mark. It's like it stops trying to be a piece of oppression and suddenly becomes a lot more... free. Suddenly it's lighter with piano notes dancing all over the place, horns picking up the atmosphere among "high clouds" so to speak. As though a great big section of light has suddenly forced itself through dark and heavy overcast skies. The song starts picking up, building up, working itself to a very tasteful and incredible crescendo. But even still, it takes it's time to get there. Not forcing you to suddenly face it without some internal preparation. In come Aaron's vocals just when appropriate, saying exactly what needs to be said before suddenly... the song gently drifts itself to an end. After hearing this song... I gleefully anticipated the rest of the album, expecting great things. How wrong I was...
Track number two of disk one then came on. "You Are Not The One Who Loves Me." It started off with potential. Some rather moody piano chords being struck down with a moodiness only the depressed seem to really notice. Violins following that for a short while. After that comes a small piano section. Slightly flavourless, and not terribly inspired to any degree. Aaron starts some rather vague and meaningless vocals that don't really seem to follow any particular direction, story or anything really. The violin comes back, following the same tune it was doing before. Once that finished we get some truly second rate digitally created ambiance. To complete this particularly lifeless song Aaron decided to put in some more uninspiring lyrics not worth paying attention to. Not only are the lyrics rather bland, they don't even fit the particular song. This was to set the bench mark for the rest of the entire album.
Yes, this album does have some sections where the mood captures you and carries you to places of complete melancholic beauty. It does have sections where everything was composed perfectly. And everything holds it's own jewel of elegance. The real letdown is that almost all of those sections are held together by incredibly mediocre and forced sections of hollow sounding emptiness. Songs with irritating out of place harpsichord, horrible lyrics and badly created digital placements.
You hear a lot of influence from other well created neo-classical masterpieces. "Of Lillies Bent With Tears" has a strong resemblance to Ulver's "A Quick Fix of Melancholy," "In Your Dark Pavilion" has strong Dargaard elements to it. However, that doesn't necessarily work in this releases favour. Regardless of the fact that My Dying Bride re-used a lot of their famous riffs from earlier, popular songs in this three (or two disk if you didn't get your hands on the "deluxe" edition) disk abomination, it doesn't have it's own personality to the release. And by that I mean that this release has been so stretched by outside influences and tedious inserts that it doesn't have it's own soul. It's just a smattering of this and a splattering of that.
At this point, I'm just going to go right ahead and say it. My Dying Bride have finally lost it. And if the next release they have to give us is as mediocre as the compositions they've had to give us in the past three years, then it's pretty obvious they've given up the throne of UK gothic doom and it might just be time for an artist like My Silent Wake to come and hold the torch for the next few years to come.