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My Dying Bride's career progression has become interestingly circular. Shying from the (at the time) poor reception to 34.788%...Complete, The Light at the End of the World was a stunning epitome of their sound on Like Gods of the Sun. After pursuing that sound to a gothic conclusion on Songs of Darkness, Words of Light, A Line of Deathless Kings was an excellent effort to push the envelope, easily the most interesting album by them of the decade. Harder, heavier and gloomier. Once again the reset button has been pushed however, with the main selling point of their 2009 opus, For Lies I Sire - the return of the violins that characterized their early output. And the results are mixed.
The mixed results are mainly in the parts of the album that heavily reference early '90s material - although it generally surpasses Turn Loose the Swans and the debut due to better performances and better songwriting, there are some tracks which don't really communicate in the way they should. 'My Body, A Funeral' and 'Echoes From a Hollow Soul' really don't seem to be anything but a My Dying Bride platter - Stainthorpe's grisly wail, more refined and honed than ever, deep, keening guitars and of course the violin. But it's all just sat there on the plate. Nowhere near as memorable as a cut from The Angel and the Dark River or The Light at the End of the World.
The use of the violin across the album is very much in the style of Martin Powell, used rarely but with exquisite sorrow, and to Katie Stone's credit it sounds like Powell had never left. The title track is more in line with the feeling of genuine despair I would want from them, as is 'Santuario Di Sangue', both with album-defining performances by both Stainthorpe and Stone. His best moment might be on the enjoyable (if not incredible) closing gothic epic 'Death Triumphant', with the whole group again pulling out the stops. They're really playing their fucking hearts out on this album, you can tell.
The band is at its best however where it isn't revisiting the windswept tombs of old elegies. 'Fall With Me' is a groaning, propulsive bit of 'Mass-like doom that edges more toward the sound of A Line of Deathless Kings. Now this is fucking great, Craighan and Glencross at the top of their game with heavy chugging guitars and hissing snares in the middle complementing the vocal lamentations, and the climax getting real melodic and choppy. Things pick up speed by 'Bring Me Victory', with triumphant violin blasts, palm-muted guitars and tumbling drums.
When trying some more confrontational emotions, the Bride seem to hit upon new veins of inspiration in their well-mined little cave of gothic doom. The eerie, minimalist drear of 'Shadowhaunt' reminds of 'And My Fury Stands Ready', except it snarls into this huge, chugging monster with rasped vocals. Perfect! An absolute standout is 'A Chapter in Loathing' which opens with the riff from the end of 'The Blood, the Wine, the Roses' and evolves into a beautiful blackened tremolo riff with appropriately evil growls from Stainthorpe. The middle of the song is Autopsy style death metal in the style of the Bride's demos. Fucking amazing, and I wish they recorded more songs like this.
There's good moments aplenty here, but it loses a few points for the same problem I often find with albums that deliberately attempt to unite all eras of a band's work - it usually only achieves a kind of weird stasis in the songs that try to glance at the past. As Stainthorpe himself notes, The Dreadful Hours is the album that's really representative of everything My Dying Bride can do. This is worth picking up. Basically I really like the band and always have, and I have a good time listening to this. This is a mostly solid album from a band still going strong but who, I believe, could do some really interesting things if they had stuck with the sound of the 2006 record.
My Dying Bride. The band easily ranks in my top three favorite metal bands, and at least my top ten bands of any genre, if not in the top five. Aside from Like Gods the Sun and 3-whatever-percent-complete, I listen to each and every release from this band religiously. I love the dirty, basic death metal of their early days; the brooding, haunting death doom of Turn Loose the Swans, The Dreadful Hours, and Songs of Darkness; the pure gothic haunt of Angel and the Dark River, The Light at the End of the World, A Line of Deathless Kings and now this release For Lies I Sire. But does this match up with the rest of the band's discography?
Short answer: probably not.
It's not bad. It's just not as good. I wouldn't recommend it as a starting point for any prospective fans is all I'm saying really.
There's almost no grit to this release. For Lies I Sire plays very smoothly. It's melodic, haunting and picturesque. The twin guitars dueling beautifully, harmoniously, with violin strokes interrupting every so often, or a brief key line breaking through the melancholic storm. And that's all not to mention Strainthorpe's vocals soaring over the mix in what might be his best clean vocal performance on any album. I'd say his best overall performance came on The Light at the End of the world, but in terms of exhibiting range in clean singing this release is his pinnacle. Actually, Strainthorpe seems to get better at clean vocals with every subsequent release; I'm not sure if this has anything to do with the general deterioration of his harsh vocals, but it's nice.
I should repeat and clarify that last part. Strainthorpe is not the same vocalist he was in Turn Loose the Swans, As the Flower Withers, or even as recently as Songs of Darkness, Words of Light. He can't belt out those growls in quite the same manner he used to. This is not surprising for a death metal vocalist after nearly two decades of performing in the style. Luckily Strainthorpe has his clean vocals to fall back on, which is not something I can say for someone like, I dunno, Chris Barnes.
Unfortunately this ruins the one death-metalish song on the album: A Chapter in Loathing. It's really too bad because the riff in that song is a killer, sounding at once completely evil and epic and soaring. It's the same climactic finish that ended the last song on their last album: The Blood, The Wine, The Roses, which is one of my favorite closers from the band. Now, I'm not sure if this is a sequel to that song of some sort- the lyrics don't seem to reflect it- but that opening riff is exactly the same. It's intellectual recycling unless it is in fact a follow up, but it's not the worst form of recycling ever as I do love that riff.
I also deduct points from this release for how Strainthorpe's poor harsh delivery very nearly made a good song bad. Shadowhaunt is a brooding little number with miserable lyrics accompanied by Strainthorpe's melancholic crooning and soaring high notes. Then comes a segment where in days gone by he would have beat the listener down with a series of well-executed and throat tearing growls. He just can't do it anymore, and the result is something almost hard to listen to. Still, I look past the minor indiscretion to enjoy the bulk of the song, which is really rather good.
The one song I absolutely cannot abide in this release is Bring Me Victory. The combination of almost groove-esque riffing and melancholic violin lines doesn't do anything for me, I'm afraid. It's the only song I consistently skip.
But, I've been focusing on the negatives of the album for a few paragraphs now. The album opens wonderfully with My Body, A Funeral. Strainthorpe croons out the first few lines of the album, accompanied with very slight plucks of guitars before the lead riff breaks in and he starts singing in that beautiful, effortless fashion that has become customary for him in recent releases. Fall With Me is a nice follow up, with a brilliant structuring, flowing effortlessly through a number of tempos and building a great atmosphere that explodes with well-written poetic lyrics. Echoes from a Hollow Soul is a good song with some border line lyrics. "From the church of children's cries" isn't the best line Strainthorpe has ever construed but his delivery of, "From her mouth, a further request, the sons of Adam to be put to death," almost makes up for it.
My favorite song on this album is Santuario Di Sangue and because I've been singing Strainthorpe's praises throughout this review, I should note that this song presents his finest hour on clean vocals. It's all so effortless. The song is structured perfectly around his delivery whether he's singing at his accustomed level or belting out the lines of the song's- for lack of a better term- chorus.
All in all, this album is sure to appease My Dying Bride fans. Though, again, I wouldn't recommend it for the prospective fan. I would probably start with The Light at the End of the World as it's a good midway point for the band's material. As for, For Lies I Sire, it's a worthy addition to the band's catalogue.
Some things in the musical world will never cease to be: Limp Bizkit will always be shite, Metallica will never get close to how good they were in the 80's, My Dying Bride will never sound happy, and Kerrang! will always manage to sound hopelessly misinformed, even when unusually being correct about something. Describing Britain's kings of misery as "the Champions of Gloom" as quoted in the blurb of "For Lies I Sire" sounds hilariously bad, even if actually true, that I wonder why Kerrang! even bothers covering any real metal at all these days. My Dying Bride should be a household name to anyone with the faintest interest in depressing, dark, gothic-y, doomed metal are back in town with their 10th album since 1992's debut "As The Flower Withers". And yes, even after all these years they have not cheered up in the slightest.
Describing the sound of MDB is pointless - every single death/doom band since owes their existence to these Yorkshire men. They crystallise the already down-trodden sound of Candlemass and Trouble into a more fragile, mournful, morose tone, before adding the masterstroke of some serious heavy death metal into the mix, resulting in a style perversely likable yet wholesomely negative. Key ingredients in this have always been Aaron Stainthorpe's bleak vocals, often reduced to a whisper-in-the-ear, and to the delight of MDB's legions of fan, the return of a full-time violinist in the band. Nothing quite wrenches the heart as does the grating strings of a well-played violin, best evidenced in "Santuario Di Sangue" on this album, but used to classic effect on so much of the band's early back catalogue. The 'Bride haven't changed a great deal of late - the predominance of the DM/growled material is now a sideshow, only raising its head in the excellent "A Chapter In Loathing", but the painful melody that underpins every MDB song is possibly it's most potent here on "For Lies I Sire" than it has been in ages. Though probably the other way round in respect of who might have influenced whom, there is a distinct feel of Warning in the monumental scales of "Echoes From A Hollow Soul", where the lead guitars do their damned best in attempting to beat the miserable violin at it's own game, and probably in a first for a My Dying Bride album, the strong smell of Kreator in "Bring Me Victory".
I get the impression "For Lies I Sire" will feature different favourite tracks for many people - the aforementioned "Santuario Di Sangue" with a lead riff so DOOM it should be patented, "A Chapter In Loathing", and my numero uno, closer "Death Triumphant" showcasing the finest example of twin lead guitars on the album, set in the grand tradition of the just-as-negative Mourning Beloveth. Though MDB will probably never top the much-loved "Turn Loose The Swans", "For Lies I Sire" is wonderfully admirable and deserving of respect in it's own right. In the world of doom metal few are consistent as My Dying Bride - they really are some champions of gloom. Shit, now I'm saying it...
Originally written for Rockfreaks.net
First of all, allow me to state that the following lines are not born upon the impact of the first wave of enthusiasm against my unsuspecting mind, but rather they are the result of thorough assessment of the work that is to behold. And now, that being said, get ready to accept the staggering truth: this certain piece of music is a masterpiece.
Yes, you read correctly, a masterpiece delivered by MDB. I was just as surprised, mind you! But enough with the introduction, let’s get on to the review.
Upon hearing about the release of the last My Dying Bride to date, i somehow got the feeling it will be worthwile, as i have to say that, unlike for many other people, their 2006 release wasn’t my cup of tea. Sure, A Line of Deathless Kings had it’s moments, but overall it wasn’t something capable of blowing me away. Consequently, i took my chance and purchased it. I was not wrong to abide by my intuition, it’s worth it weight in gold!
The opener, My Body, A Funeral... is, in my opinion, the best track out there. I was reading the lyrics while listening (although there is actually no need to do so, as Aaron’s vocals are comprehensible throughout the whole record), and i could follow the song, the idea behind it. It managed what very few metal songs, let alone albums, are able to do, i.e. it made me think about what i was hearing, it made me really listen, not just be exposed to some ambient noise to which no meaning whatsoever can be attached. I could almost grasp the grief behind the beautiful clean vocals, as the track slowly builds up the depression-inducing lyrical development weaved upon the melody, which is steadily taken over be the guitars towards the end, becoming absolutely crushing and overwhelming, suffocating the listener within the sadness. And then it ends.
The next track, Fall With Me, begins with the masterfull guitar work being delivered straight away, but avoiding what would be, to this effort, futile agression. This piece of music isn’t, i think, at all intended to be, nor it should be, deemed agressive. This is pure, crushing doom metal at it’s finest. But, by all means, crushing not in a mindlessly-playing-as-fast-as-we-can-and-as-distorted-as-possible-so-no-one-can-understand-us (!) kind of way (indeed, who ever heard of fast doom metal? It’s unconceivable, as it is a contrdiction within the meaning of the words put together to form a whole.), but rather calmly and thoroughly building a dark and drowned in the ashes of despair atmosphere. The lyrics of this second track are, to me, quite interesting, following two different paths and leaping from one to another very gracefully: the references to the image of the death of God, as christianity perceives it, and thus the subsequent loss of hope of those who witness it and understand what they are seeing, are interspersed between the lines referring to more mundane issues, i.e. love, as it is conceivable to be cast upon another human being, and loss thereof. The end of the song comprises one last biblical reference, building a very suggestive apocalyptic imagery.
The musicianship behind this album is at it’s best. The song structures are conceived in such a way as to not get boring or annoyingly repetitive, but to keep the listeners’ unmoved attention throughout. The vocals... well, Aaron’s voice is beautiful, fitting the music well, as i can’t find any flaw to it. Interestingly enough, the vocal approach remains within the same range and style up until the fourth track, within which we get a quick glimpse upon some harsh, searing performance by A. Stainthorpe, only to return to clean singing for the next couple of tracks. At the end of the sixth song, the harsh vocals return, coherently setting the conclusion. Finally, A Chapter in Loathing is reminiscent of the band’s old work, but i dare say that this song illustrates how they should have carried their efforts back then, all in all a well crafted piece of death metal influenced musical composition, with even some touches of black metal.
Summing it up, this is easily one of My Dying Bride’s best albums so far, i even go to such lengths as to call it the best, definitely worth getting (and all these lines come not from within the mind of a MDB fan(boy), mind you, but are just the fairly deserved tribute owed to a beautiful piece of metal music).
I could tell you I'm not the biggest My Dying Bride fan in the world, nor really a fan at all, but on occasion the band has done something to surprise me, and they have released a few worthy crushers like 'The Light at the End of the' World or the underrated '34.788%..Complete'. 'For Lies I Sire' isn't much of a crusher, in fact it reinforces my theory that playing slow does not always make you sound as doomed as playing slow with a proper organization of notes into effective riffs. This is the style of 'Calgon take me away' doom metal which unfortunately adorns a great many albums in their catalog, replete with violins and very gothic textures. Oh, the woe!
Aaron's clean vocal style still sets the band apart, and I will admit that despite my disdain for the album as a whole, he delivers one of his better performances (though the supporting music is extremely weak). The album does have a few tracks, like "Fall With Me", where my boredom began to lift in the sonic, slow grooving black textures of the riffing and creepy whispering. "A Chapter in Loathing" has some blackish metal vocals and breaks for some background chanting and ambient whispers which are a stark and refreshing change from the surrounding mediocre tracks. If the album featured more tracks such as these and less like the brooding and dull pandering of "Echoes from a Hollow Soul" or "Shadowhaunt", I probably would have drawn more from it.
I realize the very point of this band is to remain bleak at all times and offer only the slightest sliver of silver light, but I simply wasn't swayed by the vast majority of the writing. It's one of the cases in which I found myself staring at my watch, wondering when this would end, yet with the exception of the first two tracks mentioned above, I found no reprieve. The band is in prime form as far as the production standards; the use of strings is both subtle when necessary and boldened seemlessly during the swelling of its more passionate excursions into an emotional void. The lyrics aren't terrible but they do contain many of the same dull cliched expressions and numerous references to angel wings, 'she does this, she does that' and the like. Granted many metal bands and genres have their lyrical cliches, but in this case they are far from favorable.
I'd love to once again be pulverized into blackest despair by My Dying Bride, but this isn't the album to do it.
I've heard a few people call this a 'return to form', 'back to Turn Loose the Swans' and various things like that. Perhaps there was some brief period where that fine line between brilliant gothic death/doom and self parody got crossed, but everything I've heard by these guys sounds great, and sounds pretty much the same, the only difference being the amount of clean vocals and/or violin. So while (obviously) Lies I Sire isn't much of a progression or anything, it's still rather good. ALODK had some higher highs but also lower lows, this has a lot less filler, even if there's nothing that's as good as "Thy Raven Wings" or "To Remain Tombless" on this album.
My Dying Bride have established a sound that's pretty much their own; drums that are perhaps a bit more complicated then you'd think, stately, woeful vocals that are a bit limited in range but work well enough, and some strangely enigmatic guitars. I've always felt MDB's guitarists never got enough love and this album's a good enough example. Bits all fast 'n' blasty, solid doom riffs with a strange, funeral procession type vibe, and heaps of crunching, mid paced riffing. "Fall With Me" is probably the best example of the guitars- and, indeed, the band in general- getting it all right on this album. Heavy slow riffs, an inspired interplay of violin and a military style beat, some dual lead action before we return to doom and then mid paced steamrolling. It's hardly the most complex stuff ever but there's obviously been some work done with the arranging; as there's plenty of riffs changing and mutating, lots of times when the drums change feel and give a riff a completely different feel. Simple verse/chorus stuff this ain't.
The thing I like about this more so then ..Deathless Kings is that there's a lot more up tempo parts. Perhaps that and the violin (which, it must be said, is used sparingly but to great effect) are what's driving the Turn Loose the Swans comparisons. Tunes like "Bring me Victory" is possibly the catchiest thing they've done; a driving tempo, memorable vocal lines, a short running time. Likewise, "A Chapter of Loathing" is short-ish, fast and rather nasty in it's death metal-ish opening (and the rather horrible screamed vocals). Even if the opening riff is ripped straight off a song from their previous album it's still pretty cool. Make the production worse, add some more growls and it could almost be off their first album!
Not that it's all amazing stuff. Unlike most MDB albums there aren't really any stinkers on this album, but certainly a few songs where things dip a bit in excitement- "Shadowhaunt" being a prime example, and there's a few parts where Aaron's lyrics cross that previously mentioned line between awesomeness and self-parody. (From the church of children's cries/the awaited one, anticipates)? Overall I guess that'd be my main criticism, the album never gets horrible but there's no really amazing songs, either. A few get close, some of the more upbeat tunes and the pure doom workout that's "Echoes From a Hollow Soul", which recovers from a slow start before becoming a rather cool (and really depressing) doom epic. The piano's a nice touch, too. It's hardly a "The Crown of Sympathy", though.
Overall this is certainly a decent album, not matching their first two but that's no major surprise. Worth getting if you like them, definitely, and if you've never heard them before it's not that bad an album to start with.
As all should know, My Dying Bride is a gothic-doom band from England credited with influencing the whole death/doom genre with beautiful masterpieces such as "Turn Loose The Swans", "The Angel and The Dark river", and even "Like Gods of the Sun". The thing that really made these albums hit a chord with many a listener was the dark and gloomy beauty displayed in their music. This sense of gloom and despair was mainly achieved with a strong focus on the violin. After their original violinist departed from the band, My Dying Bride hit kind of a rocky spot. Teetering on the edge of experimentation (34.788% Complete) and a classic doom sound (The Light at the End of the World), the melanchonic violins that made My Dying Bride who they were, were absent from their sound for the five albums following 1996's "Like Gods of The Sun". Fast forward to 2009, and My Dying Bride have released their tenth opus "For Lies I Sire", and the violin has made its triumphant return. But was it worth the wait?
The album opens with the absolutely gorgeous "My Body, A Funeral". This song just drips of sadness and beauty. From Aaron's deep, defeated vocals, to the pained sounding violin, this song is sure to be an absolute classic among fans of My Dying Bride.Upon first listen, one may find the album flows together into one long and monotonous song, but further listens reveal this is not the case. "For Lies I Sire" is (with the exception of the notorious 34.778% Complete) one of My Dying Brides most creative and unique albums to date. With songs like "Echoes From a Hollow Soul" sounding almost like a piano ballad, and "A Chapter in Loathing" being a strange death metal song. IN fact, the band even goes upbeat for one track on the song" Bring Me Victory", with the bouncy sounding violin and riffs.
"For Lies I Sire" also sees the introduction of a new bassist, drummer and violinist. The new drummer was the member who surprised me the most, with a lot of his fills sounding very interesting and original especially for a doom record. Katie Stone, the new violinist, has a very unique, almost folksy style to her violin that is much different from previous violinist Martins'. New bassist Lena does a good, but not astounding job of fulfilling this role. Andrew and Hamish, the two guitarists of the band, are in top form here with some of their better riffs in the last couple years being showcased on this album. Then of course, their is Aaron, whose vocals are some of his strongest in years. The melancholy in his voice is at it's prime and has never been displayed in such a stunning manner.
Fans of My Dying Bride, new and old, will most likely love this album as it contains the strong points of both "Turn Loose The Swans" with "The Dreadful Hours" while still adding its own creative touch to it. This album is a labour of love and it really shows.
“A Line of Deathless Kings” was an odd step for My Dying Bride to Take. After the release of arguably one of their best albums “Songs of Darkness, Words of Light” they chose to do a more mellow approach. There were few if any death metal vocals on this album and the sound was more atmospheric for lack of a better term. I found it to be a great album in spite of the absence of Stainthrope’s growls. Now why am I going on about the lack of growling in MDB’s last album? Quite simply because after this album was released Aaron Stainthorpe stated that he would do growls on the next album and these growls came but not in strong enough numbers. I find it appropriate that this album is called “For Lies I Sire” because Stainthorpe lied before the album was even recorded.
This review does sound as though it is starting off on a negative tone, but I assure you that is not the case. Instead, what MDB has done here is something that both sticks with you and makes you think. All of the riffs are memorable and in typical MDB fashion there are beautiful switches from slow tempo clean interludes to fast paced chugging riffs.
Now it is also important to remember that this album was recorded with a new drummer, bassist, and keyboardist. I feel that the bass is audible and has a level of technical ability associated with it, the keyboards add to the overall atmosphere of the album while not taking away from the other instruments or vocals. Finally, the drumming of Dan “Storm” Mullins shows that he has not missed a beat. He is hammering on the drums at the right times and also is less ferocious at appropriate times as well.
I also found it interesting that in the track “A Chapter in Loathing” we hear the unmistakable continuation of the riff from, “The Blood, the Wine, the Roses” from the previous album. This is also where we hear the growling and to be honest, I find it to be the perfect place for the growling to fit on the album because it sounds as if A Chapter in Loathing picked up right where The Blood, the Wine, the Roses left off.
Even though MDB did not produce an album with the amount of death metal vocals I along with other fans were expecting they have still put forth a quality release in a relatively short amount of time with three new additions to their ranks. Now if that is not impressive I don’t know what is. Also, even though mister Stainthorpe told a little white lie about the album per say, sometimes as in this case a little white lie never hurt anyone.
The last My Dying Bride album I heard was 1999s The Light at the End of the World which I thought was a quite magnificent slab of doom and gloom and is an album I tend to revisit every now and then. For whatever reason I never bothered with the albums that came after and returned to the band after a gap of ten years and three more albums.
Unfortunately, I would have been perfectly fine if I’d never bothered with For Lies I Sire. This is mostly a dull and boring album and the band is mostly trying to rehash past glories while laying on a thick, almost impenetrable layer of cheese on top of their doom metal. Now, long time fans of the band will know that MDB has always had a slight gothic cheese bent to their songwriting. Unfortunately, where before that element of the band was held in check with some crushingly heavy songs, here it seems to have been given free rein.
Right from album opener Fall with Me, it’s apparent that the band is running on empty. The song sounds like something that could have been on Angel and the Dark River except that it’s a bit too cheesy for even that album (Caress me, undress me, forget me as winter comes, your pale skin, crystal eyes I will weep forever, oh my god why?) and when a slowed down Iron Maiden gallop comes in at halfway through, it’s just a bit embarrassing. Aaron Stainthorpe’s mostly uses his nasal whiny clean singing voice through this album and while that is one of the main weaknesses on this album it is not the only one. The songwriting on a whole suffers from ideas that have been rehashed from past albums and riffs that can only be called weak. It’s also a bit pointless to talk about individual songs because by the time you get round to the title song (which is third on the list) the songs have already taken on a similar feel and everything dissolves into background noise.
Aaron Stainthorpe and Andrew Craighan (guitars) are the only original members left in the band and I honestly think it’s time for them to take a break. For Lies I Sire sounds like the product of a tired band that is scraping the bottom of the creative barrel.
Originally written for http://www.kvltsite.com