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Way ahead of it's time... - 100%

BeteNoir, February 21st, 2008

When people think of My Dying Bride, they immediately think of the classical, landmark, doom/death albums like Turn Loose the Swans and The Dreadful Hours. The band was at one point, however, a more purely death metal affair, and it was a damn good one, highly technical, and extremely ahead of it's time. The production aside, all tracks but the first have a very modern brutal death metal sound to them. This demo manages to capture all the intensity of a Suffocation or Morbid Angel record while still achieving that morbid, gloomy, darkness, and depression My Dying Bride's later releases focused on more exclusively. This is far different from any other My Dying Bride recording, it's blast heavy, it's very fast, and there is not a trace of beauty nor the trendy, somewhat commercial gothmosphere which seemed to entrench itself in later recordings.

Which brings me to one of the most important points, the lyrics and vocals. I don't know what his educational background is, but Aaron Stainthorpe's command of the english language supercedes some of the greatest poets, novelists, and writer's of our time. Whereas the recurring themes in following works tended to be based on angst, the pains of love, and yes even vampirism (*cringe), this release addresses the human condition in a mature, poetic, and far more scornful and furious manner. I have no idea what happened inbetween this release and Turn Loose the Swans, but the lyrics suddenly dumbed down into uninventive language and fairly simple, universal, themes, repeated over and over again. The vocals on this album are largely unprocessed and at their absolute most vicious and indecipherable. They're among the most evil sounding vocals in death metal, at a sickening mid pitched howl. He sounds angry enough to go back in time and help crucify jesus. Chris Barnes would be both jealous and proud.

The album is of course bound to have one crippling weakness, that being the production quality. Think worse than Darkthrone but better than Judas Iscariot. As you might expect, there is no bass guitarist. Two of the songs were given the treatment and rerecorded properly, Symphonaire Infernus Et Spera Empyrium and Vast Choirs, however Vast Choirs plainly sounds better in it's lo-fi demo version, largely in part due to the keyboard intro. The keys scattered throughout this release have a terrifying, creepy, and morbid sound to them, unlike the overused choir "ahhs" that ever doom/gothic band and their mother uses today.

Overall, this release will probably appeal to those death metal fans out there that are craving that sonic darkness and morbidity often lost in modern death metal, without sacrificing on excellent musicianship, speed, and intensity. The closest comparisons I can make to this release would be diSEMBOWELMENT, Funebrarum, Bloodbath, and maybe a bit of the oldschool Swedish stuff.