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The “dark sequel” is a common theme found in Hollywood movies with the second installments in popular series such as Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and Harry Potter all being noted for being considerably darker. Although all these movies succeed in creating something more mature and grim, by doing this they often lose a bit of the heart that made their precursor such an amazing achievement. How does this relate to a band that has always been as shadowy as My Dying Bride? Well, their 8th album “Songs of Darkness, Words of Light” serves as that sort of dark sequel.
“Songs of Darkness..,” essentially takes the sound found in the already gloomy masterpiece “ The Dreadful Hours” and tweaks it in a few minor ways to have a sound so dark that it makes you think the band may not have seen the sun in a few years.
The first and most notable tweak found on the album would be on the vocals. While “The Dreadful Hours had a dominance of clean vocals, with harshes used mainly to enhance small sections of the song, “Songs of Darkness” sees about a 50/50 split. This thrown at you right of the bat, with the opener "The Wreckage of My Flesh," being one of the most vocally impressive tracks of My Dying Bride's career. Aaron’s gutturals on the album are some of his best and really add to the sinister mood of the album, while his cleans at times sound so emotional that he may burst out into tears at any section. Although his cleans may be a bit to dramatic for some, they fit the music so perfectly it’s hard to fault him. Along with these styles, the feared “whispered” vocals are used here, but strangely never get as annoying as they do on most albums.
Another notable tweak can be found in the keys, which are give a much larger importance than they were on their previous album. Don’t worry though; the keys resemble a funeral organ more than they do a fluffy power metal band. The use of keyboard in the album can be seen at its best in the very creepy intro to “And My Fury Stands Ready”.
The album is very well produced with all the instruments being put the highest in the mix when they are meant to be listened to. The production on the guitars is especially good, with all the riffs sounding very sinister and ominous.
While the album may sound close to perfection, it does suffer from one very minor fault. With its roots being being planted so firmly in their previous release “The Dreadful Hours”, comparisons between the two are hard to avoid, and although “Songs of Darkness” is a much darker, heavier and dare I say evil sounding recording than their prior release, “The Dreadful Hours” was so sad, beautiful and had so much heart to it, that the sequel just doesn’t quite live up.
Regardless of that though, “Songs of Darkness, Words of Light” proves to be another phenomenal output from the masters of all that is tragic and dark, and is easily in their top tier of their discography. Quite simply, it is one of the finest pieces of doom or gothic metal that money can buy.
With a title like 'Songs of Darkness, Words of Light' one could get several ideas of what to expect. While clever is a word that comes to mind after listening to this, it seems to fall short of properly expressing the true genius that lies within. This album is such that you can listen to pieces of it or as a whole, but its better as a whole. To quote Xathagorra Mlandroth (of Catacombs & Hierophant (US) fame) "Doom is meant to be experienced, not just listened too..." this album is the epitome of his words.
Envision if you can, a bleak darkened landscape, post dusk and as black as pitch. The moon's gentle light is masked behind a virtually endless cloud barrier with one tiny pathetic ray of light acting like a spot light on the one living thing within its reach; a man near death. Looking as though time has raped his very soul, this wretched and beleaguered being crawls; desperate and bloody towards what he thinks will bring him redemption. Beyond the point of no return and utterly lost in the seemingly endless wasteland before him does he suddenly realize the futility of it all. This is quite possibly one of the best Doom Metal albums of all time.
The albums name couldn't have been more apropos as it’s very easy to lose yourself in this epic tapestry of misery and woe. The production, top notch by all accounts, forces the songs to be at their most painful and stomach churning levels. The guitars are a perfect mix of heavy to melodic, weaving in and out of bleak and suspenseful passages of depression and self doubt. There is perhaps a little more open chorded to palm muted playing but it adds to the drama. There are several dreary leads and one solo (almost).
The bass is standard for the course, not really doing much but accentuating and segwaying here and there. It does add to the over all musical vibe but in minimal quantities. The drums are brilliant and couldn't have been better. They are minimalistic, yet all over at the same time. As if kicking the listener while he's down, forcing the hopelessness and utter chaos of movements into an already battered and broken body.
The keyboards are good enough. While any could argue that Martins' involvement would've made a greater impact, Sara does an admirable job of moving the slow impending horror that is the atmosphere along. More than complementing the guitars that without a doubt steal the show.
The vocals are perhaps some of Aaron's best and utterly devastating in their delivery. His voice (at least from the growling standpoint) has been getting worse with each passing year (see the Sinamorata DVD for more verification if necessary) but actually work exceedingly well on this album. The first song "The Wreckage of My Flesh" starts out with Aaron randomly shrieking for the first few measures before ceasing all "grim" aesthetics and singing. His voice is truly wretched and fits the music better than any one else’s could. The lyrics are passionate and perhaps a little more on the fictional side of things. This is not to say that they are lacking anywhere, but the few songs that are non-fiction are perhaps more discernable as a summary of personal situations and thusly very powerful. While not peaking (thankfully) his poetry does standout more so than usual.
This is the best My Dying Bride album. Had this not been released its predecessor 'The Dreadful Hours' would claim the title. While it’s not as heavy as TDH it darker, more spiteful and sinister. The music is intense, harsh and yet beautiful. This is an album to commit suicide by and to have played at your funeral. Where they got the idea(s) for this masterwork of Doom is beyond the average mans comprehension but thank god they did. This is what EVERY Doomdeath/Doom Metal band should aspire too. This is easily one of the most damning things you could ever hope hear and a great place to start if your new to the band and/or style. Truly, a beautiful piece of bitterness, longing and death.
The Wreckage of My Flesh starts off Songs of Darkness, Words of Light, right from the start, you'll notice the difference between this record and the previous one, that goes by the name of The Dreadful Hours. Whereas the aforementioned one, had a more gothic, mellow and even a somewhat accessible sound, this one is a true ode to all surrounding blackness. The Wreckage of My Flesh offers a certain apathy, as does the entire album for that matter - it sounds truly lifeless, Aaron plays a huge role in creating this effect, his vocal work sounds rather monotonous and not very melodious, on occasion he also uses spoken word, almost preaching his way through the song, giving it an epic touch. The rather monotonous approach, gives the entire thing a good injection of apathy, a sense of comfort, accepting what horrible fate has been bestowed upon their wretched souls. Other elements, such as an organ, help to emphasize this.
Songs of Darkness, Words of Light uses the effect of keys perfectly, they never overuse them, but instead place them within the music in an intelligent way, adding to the evergrowing gloomy ambiance. The guitarplay is drenced in reverb, a perfect example of this, is A Doomed Lover...- also one of the best songs on the album - right from the start the guitars creep up from beneat the soil and penetrate the earth, making its way to the surface, to spread an overwhelming blackness. Songs of Darkness, Words of Light is packed with melodies, going from a rather apocalyptic (epic) approach (A Doomed Lover...) to mindnumbing, hopeless tunes that will continue to drain you of all positive energy (My Wine in Silence). My Dying Bride are one of the better known doom metal bands in the genre, but don't let that hold you back, as with this record, they've delivered something which would better remain unheard, as it's one thick, black mass that will curse you with poisonous expressions. If that sounds appealing, then by all means purchase Songs of Darkness, Words of Light, as itâ€™s truly essential within its genre.
Once again MDB changed, and changed for good. After the return to the growls (remember that The Angel and the Dark River, Like Gods of the Sun and 34, 788%... Complete avoided the rotten voices) with The light at the End of the World, Aaron and co. choose a mellower and not so dark path. With this release they changed that, maybe giving up some of the The Dreadful Hour kindness, may be putting aside the most Gothic metal side, to welcome back a really Dark/Doom metal style. The title of the album is representative of what come inside. They are really songs of darkness; in fact, this is the darkest work of the band ever.
The Wreckage of my Flesh is the first track and is the perfect example of the darkness of the album, with clean vocals all the way, but is slow and depressive, and this spirit goes on and on, from track to track giving lessons of “how to create dark and heavy moments” up to the end. The sound is really dull, like faded away giving an obscure atmosphere, specially the guitars, which are like violins from hell, really heavy. The work involved in the melodies, courtesy of Andrew Craighan and Hamish Hamilton Glencross, is brilliant as is costume. Shaun Taylor-Steels proved to be one of the most talented drummers in the Doom/Death metal scene, his drumming is very complex even in ordinary riffs, and it goes out of this world in the first and last tracks. Keyboards and bass guitar are a perfect complement, giving the solid core that this album has but with no special moments or solos, they just come with the music, what seems little but, given the spirit of the album Ade Jackson and Sarah Stanton made a terrific job.
The clean vocals sound like “disguised” under different effects, and the result of this is perfect, it’s like Aaron is singing inside a tomb, and the most important, it seems that he is learning how to manage his clean voice, creating different moments with just a phrase. In my opinion, the clean vocals play a less important role than in any other album (with the exception of As the Flowers Wither) but the technical work on them is greater than before. The growls are, as usual, awesome!
What calls the attention is the “ballad” of the album My Wine, In Silence, a very romantic, mellow song, with distorted guitars just at the end, even though it is a heavy song may be due to the dark atmosphere it has, or may be for the simple and sad guitar melody, anyway, is a great song. The lyrics in general are very poetic and all have been conceived perfectly for the climate of each song, they bring romantic and tragic images in the low tunes, and are rage full in the heaviest, like in The Blue Lotus or And My Fury Stands Ready. If I have to define this album in one phrase, I would say: they are Songs of Darkness with Words of Light. And if you ask me if this is the final masterpiece of MDB, I would say no, each album is masterpiece, all of them have one thing or another that makes them great and unique, this time that thing is darkness.
Sorry, this moronic pun was so tempting, I just couldn’t resist. Some may still consider Turn Loose the Swans as the ultimate MDB album, but people like me who hold The Dreadful Hours for their best effort and one of the ultimate gothic/doom albums of all time just have to love this one. Simply because it is just the logical following of this previous MDB opus, that means, the band keeps on melting the death-doom metal they are well-known for with more gothic influences. So, if you dislike MDB later works, what I may fully understand, just stop reading there, there is nothing more for you.
This album might be a step below The Dreadful Hours because of some filling moments, like And My Fury Stands Ready where more than half of the song consists in annoying minimalist guitar chords backed by ambient sounds, giving undoubtedly the weakest track here. But apart from that, this album only consists in the dark, depressive beauty of gothic/doom metal. Sure, joyful it is not, and MDB has never been anyway, but contrary to their first attempts at softer music, their last efforts never fall into sleep-inducing monotony. The Angel and the Dark River as well as Like Gods of the Sun had their moments and included some of my favourite MDB tracks (The Angel... especially, with The Cry of Mankind, A Sea to Suffer In and Two Winters Only), but failed to really keep the listener attentive until the very end in my opinion. This is not the case with this release, though one can’t really say the band has noticeably sped up. Still the same slow, creeping, slightly down-tuned doom riffs, Aaron’s deep and discouraged voice, and poetically sick lyrics.
As stated before everything that has been said and written about The Dreadful Hours could apply to this album, but this is fortunately not a sterile repetition of the aforementioned masterpiece. The band has gone a step further in the gothic direction, with the more widespread use of slightly distorted vocals and more blatant keyboards, thus a stronger emphasis on dark atmospheres, without ever falling into mellow so-called atmospheric blandness fortunately. Spoken parts are also still well present, as well as more aggressive growls which might well add the energy the softer works were lacking of. After all, My Dying Bride is one of the last well-known acts to keep the flame of early 90’s death-doom metal alive, when almost every famous band, from Paradise Lost to Katatonia, has turned to pop-rock.
Granted, this album doesn’t exhibit such utterly gloomy tracks as The Dreadful Hours (the song) or the agonizing Le Figlie Della Tempesta, but crushing pieces of 1000 tons weighing doom as the opening track The Wreckage of My Flesh (which takes quite a while before really beginning though) or the closing A Doomed Lover and its impressive crescendo ending are not likely to make you feel very light and easy. Nor is the beautiful bass and guitar-driven ballad My Wine in Silence, which again shows how an impressive clean vocalist Aaron can occasionally be. Don’t worry, growls are also present, this album may even be the most growled MDB album in years. Eventually my personal favourite may be the both touching and complex Catherine Blake, perfect mixture between MDB old doom/death style and their more gentle works, but this album has really to be listened to as a whole as each song, though sounding very different from the others, is part of the general dark, and almost MORBID, atmosphere.
With this release My Dying Bride’s future looks very gloomy. What, for this band, means of course it looks bright.
Highlights: The Scarlet Garden, Catherine Blake, My Wine in Silence, The Prize of Beauty, A Doomed Lover
Formed in 1990, My Dying Bride is probably the most well known Doom Metal band of all time. With such monumental albums like “As The Flower Withers” or “Turn Loose The Swans”, the English act established as pioneers, giving birth, together with Anathema and Paradise Lost, to what would be labelled as Doom Death Metal.
The evolution since their first album has been mainly done by details that, in some ways, have changed their composition, but never affecting the incredible dark and depressive environment they always manage to create. “Songs Of Darkness, Words Of Light” is the logical continuation of My Dying Bride’s career since 1999. “The Light At The End Of The World” saw the almost literal end of the violins, leaving more space for the keyboards to shine; the growls, absent for some albums, returned and the aggressiveness increased. “The Dreadful Hours” followed the same line. Now, this work continues having all those elements, but there are some slower songs, mostly with clean vocals and beautiful guitars, like “A Doomed Lover” and “My Wine in Silence”, that sound not just sad, but absolutely tragic.
The keyboards have their most influential role ever on My Dying Bride’s discography, sometimes giving that sound of “betrayed romance soundtrack”, like in the end of “The Prize Of Beauty” or pushing us heavily for suicidal tendencies (“The Scarlet Garden” for example).
Personally I think Aaron Stainthorpe is one of the best Metal vocalists, he can sing whatever he wants and always sound obscure and depressed. After all this time he manages to put out his best performance ever, using all of his experience and resources: enraged growls, whining vocals (those that almost make you cry on how much he seems to be suffering) and sometimes even very calm almost speaking his lyrics but with different tons on his voice, inspiring different feelings.
Besides being solid, diverse and interesting from the beginning until the end, there are some really memorable moments on this album: the initial part on “The Wreckage Of My Flesh” is very weird and brilliant at the same time, specially because it works so well as an introduction and fits the song; the brilliant changes in the middle of “The Scarlet Garden”; the whole “Catherine Blake”, a true anthem to everything the band represents; the creepy environment of “And My Fury Stands Ready” or even the emotionally brutal riffs on “A Doomed Lover”.
No review can prepare a person’s spirit to the sentimental rides My Dying Bride’s albums are, even if, like me, you are totally absorbed by their music. In conclusion “Songs Of Darkness, Words Of Light” is perfect on everything, definitely one of the best albums they have done.
My Dying Bride is one of the greatest doom metal bands, with albums like Turn Loose The Swans, The Light At The End Of The World and The Angel And The Dark River, they really stand out from other bands. Songs Of Darkness, Words Of Light does not make any exception, the album is great from beginning to end. This was the first record that I had heard from My Dying Bride and at first I did not like it. It may be hard to get into if you are not used to the doom metal style, because the songs are about the lyrics and the singer talks more than he sings, but he talks with a complaining voice, in order to emphasize on the moroseness. So the instruments being played very slowly, with keyboards and violins (I believe) and the “whining” vocals, it creates an incredibly gloomy atmosphere.
I, personally, enjoy listening to Aaron’s voice. He is able to sing beautiful melodies, whisper in a sorrowful voice or do some very nice growls. The guitars on Songs Of Darkness, Words Of Light is absolutely wonderful. There are so many catchy riffs, especially the one in My Wine In Silence. This last is easily the best song of the album, everything about it is great, I have never heard anything this dark, and then the guitarist comes in with a simple slow riff that catches the attention of any listener, it is amazing. Later in the song, Aaron changes voice and growls for a while and then the heavy distorted electric guitars come in, which is really awesome.
Also used in a few songs on this album is the organ. Not often used in metal, I found that the organ created something special about the songs on which it was played. The drum was also well played, every instrument was brilliantly executed, and they did not try to overdo it. They kept it slow and simple, that way it did not ruin the dark and sad atmosphere of the songs.
Doom metal lovers will fall in love with this album; however, if you are not into the whinny sad songs, well you will probably need some adaptation to this album, because it is not similar at all to any other genre of music. Stand-out tracks on this album are My Wine In Silence and A Doomed Lover. After a few listens, Songs Of Darkness, Words Of Light gets better and better. I rate it 90/100, it is a brilliant album from the masters of doom.
The masters of doom metal are back with their seventh full-length album (not including their two live albums, EPs, compilations, etc.) Songs of Darkness, Words of Light. And what an album they have created here, full of beautiful melodies and some of the most sorrowful lyrics I’ve read. These guys know how to make doom metal, after all they’ve been doing this for around 14 years now. My first exposure to this band was when I picked up their 1996 album Like Gods of the Sun, after having read/heard many good things about the band and that album. Upon hearing that album for the first time I was taken about at how sorrowful this band really was, the music was so slow and melancholic it was unreal. Add to that the vocals of Aaron Stainthorpe and you’ve got one hell of a doom metal album.
So here it is 2004 and we are given another eight tracks of doom, clocking in at around 58+ minutes. There is not a bad track to be found on this album, each song is a keeper as far as I’m concerned. Each track contains haunting guitar riffs (provided by Hamish Glencross and Andrew Craighan), tight drumming, a thick bass sound (easily heard in the mix, but not overpowering), and Aaron Stainthorpe’s excellent vocals. Stainthorpe has one of the best voices I’ve heard, he can sing the low whispered styled vocals, mournful styled, and give some pretty good growled vocals all within a single song. A perfect example of this comes in the third track, Catherine Blake. The song starts out with this droning opening riff, followed in short time by the vocals. The vocals are almost spoken in the beginning, but then around the 4:24 mark the song takes a different direction. The riffs become a little heavier, in my opinion, and Stainthorpe breaks out the growls. Such a beautiful song, it’s definitely one of the best tracks on the album.
If you like doom metal, or are interested in checking out the genre, don’t hesitate in picking up this album. There’s no better way to get into a genre of metal than by getting an album by one of the masters in the field. For doom metal, those masters are six individuals who call themselves My Dying Bride.