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As a longtime fan of this band I’ve never been able to understand why so many praise this album. Even after I initially bought I never thought of classifying this album among their best. Time has only served to reinforce my opinion of this album as MDB’s worst, even the experimental 34.788%…Complete fares better. Angel… saw this band enter a decline and nowhere is this decline more apparent that this over-praised album.
Like its predecessor, this album utilizes strictly clean vocals exclusively. Unfortunately, Aaron’s vocals sound lackluster and passionless, its almost as if he’s bored with the music he’s singing over and I can’t say I blame him. The album begins with a whimper: this title track has nothing memorable to offer us, a forgettable guitar riff at its core, organ-sounding keyboards in the chorus and before we know it the songs over. Needless to say, its critical that the opening song an any album be an attention-grabber and the fact that this disc opens with one of the most non-descript songs in the history of Doom-Metal doesn’t bode well.
A Dark Caress fares slightly better. It brings to mind some of the great MDB songs of old, without reaching that level. The guitar riffs meld well with the violin. But its bridge section, centered on Aaron’s spoken narration, weakens this song. This brings to the forefront one of the many weaknesses of this disc: the lyrics. Aaron spoke openly in interviews that he was in the midst of a writer’s block when this album was in its formative stages and it shows. Aaron is a very gifted lyric writer but some of his lyrics on this album are downright asinine, and this song in particular. Even worse, I think his block was contagious on the rest of the band, which I will delve into later.
All Swept Away is one of the most bizarre songs on this disc. Its full of elements that just don’t work together. The song begins briskly with an almost thrashy vibe but the furious drumming and riffing just doesn’t blend well with the violin melody floating overtop. The song mellows out in the middle and then finishes furiously again and this song doesn’t flow well. Many of the songs such as the title track and It Will Come seem downright redundant. The latter made even more so by the unjustifiable inclusion of its “remix” as a bonus track.
Another fatal flaw of this disc is the songwriting. Previously MDB had focused around writing epic-length songs. This is one of the elements that made them a premier band. On this disc the songs are shorter. That can be a benefit in certain cases but not here. The songs may be shorter but they aren’t any more captivating. The songs just come and go without any fanfare or anything to make them particularly memorable. Its like the band didn’t spend enough time writing these songs and hashing them out. The music is no longer grandiose; it’s just standard. On this album MDB sound like one of the countless clone bands they’ve inspired like Silentium or Ashes You Leave.
The ultimate indication of this album’s mediocrity is that it doesn’t contain any great songs. Some are good, most are passable and there aren’t any songs that leap out and scream masterpiece. The music isn’t bad per se but when you’ve set such a high standard previously lackluster material tends to stick out more. There is nothing on this disc that MDB hasn’t done before-and at a much higher quality.