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My Dying Bride present us their second full-length with an impressionist, moody piece artwork adorning its cover. It imparts a feeling of bitter loneliness, of a funereal march, of gray clouds bringing its rain, of being powerless against an imposing darkness, of rage against the god who has abandoned us, of hurtful melancholy for unrequited love. This striking piece of art is indeed representative of the qualities you'll find in this record.
So what's the actual music like? Heavy, melancholic, dark, despairing, atmospheric, pathetic. My Dying Bride use elements like heavy guitar riffs, hateful growls, sorrowful clean vocals, moving keyboard and violin pieces, and immature yet romantic poetry to paint a picture that might seem imperfect on the listener's mind, but incredibly affecting to it's heart. The riffs don't make you want to move your head, they crush you and your hopes against the floor. The vocals aren't sung, they are cried. The lyrics aren't refined or made with the intention of being catchy as much as they are emotions transferred on to paper with ink made of blood and tears.
This is one of those albums that are much more than the sum of its parts. You know that the production could be a bit better. You know that most songs have a similar structure and some elements can get repetitive. You know that 'The Crown of Sympathy' is a bit overlong, that the first few minutes of 'Your River' don't flow perfectly, that the lyrics are awkward attempts at romantic poetry, that 'Sear Me' and 'Black God' aren't even metal songs... yet, somehow, it all works. This is not an album that needs to be understood and analyzed, but FELT. This is not a simple death/doom album, it's a piece of art.
Favorite moments: The hateful intonations of 'The Songless Bird' and it's moving violin piece, the crushing riffs and the longing, romantic lyrics of the title track, the depressing funereal atmosphere of 'The Crown of Sympathy', the sorrowful first verses of 'Your River'...
But do listen to the whole album in one sitting, preferably alone on a cloudy day while reading the lyrics to really be able to appreciate the complete picture.