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I'm fucking sorry. Really. As much as I've grown to absolutely LOVE [/fanboy] this band over the last year, I can't say I'm at all pleased with their back catalog; releases that are hailed as 'essential' or 'pivotal'.
In all honesty, this just fucking sucks. It may be an early representation of what this band was to BECOME.. but what they WERE (Thankfully) was just a god awful Gothy-doom band. This album was in no way making me feel gloomy or dark. In fact, it generally just pissed me off. Listening to this album pricked at my patience, because all the songs were shitty, and they ALL were ridiculously long. Sure, there were SOME (in this case, very few) moments where I went, "Wow. Not bad. That's pretty awesome!" However, the entire thing was just plain awful in my opinion.
The guitars were really thin. There was really no crunch to them in my eyes, compared to later releases, and even the band's previous album, 'As The Flower Withers', which was an average release, but very heavy compared to their material nowadays. The bass is barely there, so it really doesn't help the thin and sickly guitars at all.
The drums are not that bad. Everything sounds well, and effectively mic'd. The only real issue with them is that there are no good songs on this record. Due to this, they basically go to waste.
Aaron's vocals... how much more displeased can I get? His death metal vocals are fine. I've okay with those, but damn. His singing is atrocious. He's practically whining! When did the singer of Korn join My Dying Bride!? All I want to know is where the melodic, mournful cries of later albums like 'The Dreadful Hours' and 'Songs Of Darkness, Words Of Light' went?
If anything... I'd simply avoid this album. It's a Black Sheep within the My Dying Bride discography. Listen to 'As The Flower Withers', 'The Light At The End Of The World' and 'Like Gods Of The Sun' for an introduction to this band's early material. If you're feeling lucky, try '34.788%... Complete' and see if you like it. Despite negativity, I loved it.
As I conclude this review, I am beginning to listen to 'The Angel And The Dark River.' I hope it's not as bad as this album was.