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My Dying Bride is more or less synonymous with Passion, saying anything less is a flagrant lie. Few bands in the history of music have kept as true to their roots as they have and even fewer still have managed to update their sound/style while staying true to said roots. This album will take you to several different and horrible places internally and you will come back wanting more. If you don’t there is something seriously wrong with you as these masters of dejection have once again crafted an opus of hate and contempt that is so invigorating and new that you will be hooked seconds after the first few notes seductively find their way into your soul.
After the release of the bands gigantic leap backwards "The Light at the End of the World", and the annoying release of two compilations afterwards the men of My Dying Bride somehow managed to get their collective acts together and release what is by far the bands heaviest album to date. From start to finish this album simply doesn't let up going from beautiful ponderous moments to rage fueled tirades of utter bitterness. The songs and the lyrics make an atmosphere of dense and unforgiving pain and sorrow. What’s more is that the majority of the songs are ridiculously catchy to boot.
The production is tops as the band rip through vast choirs of misery and woe. The guitars are heavy, happily chugging their way through every song. There are the leads we've come to expect as well as the long dirges of emptiness. There is an imminent feeling of desperation and despair even in the more upbeat and moderate moments. There is not a solo to be found, but this doesn't hurt the songs. The bands hallmarks are securely in place but they venture into new territories, moving forward this time instead of backwards. While calling this the successor to "Turn Loose the Swans" or "The Angel and the Dark River” would be inappropriate, its certainly the album that the fans had been sorely waiting for.
The bass is more or less the standard from MDB and as such not that interesting, although it does lead the beginning of a song towards the middle of the album. The drums are fantastic and tight. They add a very welcome organic flow to the soul crushing guitars. The best way to describe them would be; original and well done. Anything less at this point would be a disservice to not only the band but the fans as MDB has always been more than exemplary in this particular field.
The keyboards (preformed by session member Yasmin) are excellent as well, but different from Martins. It does make one wonder what he would've done differently had he stuck around. They add a vast amount of oppression to the atmosphere at large. Neither as crafty nor intricate as the aforementioned masters’ they more than get the job done.
Aaron's vocals are acceptable on this album to say the least. His cleans are the best they'd ever been up to this point in their career. He actually decided to sing as opposed to sustained speaking. His growls aren't that bad either, although you can tell that they were starting to give out on him. His passionate lyrics add the final damning strike to this masterpiece of Doomdeath.
The music flows easily from song to song, almost as if the release was intended to be a concept album. The darkness and horror seethe from the notes of the players ebbing as flawlessly as blood from a damaged artery. This also seems to be the first album that shows the band updating their distortion. Trading in their tired and headache inducing sound (found on everything from their inception until this album) for something fresher and more visceral. This virginal sound adds the primal and raw feelings that seemed forced on their past efforts. This album could also been seen as the first of a trilogy of differently styled albums. The following two releases aren’t necessarily ending the ending to this new direction but rather the fleshing out and mapping of new territory. This is a great starting point for someone new to the band, or an old hat that wasn't pleased with the direction the band took after "The Angel and the Dark River ".