Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2023
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Privacy Policy

The Blood The Whine The Roses - 85%

lostalbumguru, November 19th, 2023
Written based on this version: 2006, CD, Peaceville Records (Limited edition, Boxed set, Enhanced)

For an album with very Spartan keyboard arrangements, more haunting abstraction than classical melody, for an album incredibly riff and drum-heavy, the emotional depth of A Line of Deathless Kings is quite impressive. I consider this to be the second best My Dying Bride album after The Angel and the Dark River, but its charms are subtle. The thickness of production is highly satisfying and Bennett's drumming is flawlessly slack and emotive. The feeling he puts into strange odd-metered bass drum, snare, and cymbal interplay is uncanny. It's an object lesson in playing for, and within, the song.

The guitars are slabs of warm distortion, always playing the minimum to heft an emotion or convey an atmosphere. Stainthorpe's vocals are mixed exceptionally well, and his singing is more restrained than usual, with plenty of whispers and only the occasional roar. Lyrically, his sexual metaphors are pared back, thankfully, but the funeral roses, decaying gravestones, lashings of rain, red wine shirt-stains, melted candles, and romantic hopelessness, are all present and exquisitely intertwined.

I really enjoy how long and fuzzy and cryptic A Line of Deathless Kings is. In a way, it's a perfect slice of 2006, which was itself a decadent, dark, uncomfortable year, oversaturated and corrupt. The keyboard orchestrations, and sampled choir vocals are stunningly layered, so organic and ethereal at the same time, nothing dropped clumsily on top of the metallic din.

The honey of romance, so sweet for us
Through swaying grass we run in arms, just us
The honey of romance, our treat to us
These arms I fold around you. It's just us.

On another album the lyrics of Love, Ruined (L'amour détruit) would immediately go full sex, full Gothic, but A Line of Deathless Kings shows Stainthorpe can do innocence and heartbreak, without the grimy sluttiness his lyrics usually evince. Actually the more My Dying Bride moves away from sexuality as a theme the better their lyrics and music are. The Angel and the Dark River is more about existential despair than witches, wolves, cunts, black magic, and cum. So it's no surprise their next best album should in fact be next best precisely by going a little asexual also.

I Cannot Be Loved is the only overtly sexual song on A Line of Deathless Kings, and it's a great example of that My Dying Bride trope.

Your pain, it talks to me and I heed it well
My hands, your neck, they greet each well in a loving hell
This hold we have can't last because it's killing me
Farewell my love. Please walk away and take away my pain.

Love, sex, suicide, self-loathing. We've heard it before.

It's OK, the rest of the songs are more mature and interesting. All the songs on A Line of Deathless Kings are similar, in a good way. It's all about a really solid album experience. Everything is mixed identically all the way through, and many of the guitar lines are re-used from song to song with small adjustments. It's not a sign of lack of inspiration, it's a sign of total confidence in the themes, music, and atmosphere of A Line of Deathless Kings. The whole thing is cripplingly redolent of specifically British Isles unhappiness, it's hard to know if it travels coherently. Would a guy from Brazil or Sweden really feel the stings of Gothic metal lashed by humid sideways rain, oily black tar roads lit sporadically by industrial yellow flickering streetlamps, no company except your own mortality, and black forests on one side, and closed down boarded up what used to be family businesses on the other. Look! There she is! With someone else, I can smell her hair from here, I hate him. They seem so happy together. Why are my parents so old and frail now? My life is just a cheap dream, fading in time, brittle and cliché.

Anyone who has heard A Line of Deathless Kings before will know about the middle break in Love's Intolerable Pain.

What if you love someone you know you shouldn't love?
What will your dying father's last words to you be?
What now, the painting of young lovers is complete?

Deeper Down was released as a single at the time though it's the most familiar procedural sounding of the songs on A Line of Deathless Kings, and One of Beauty's Daughters is slightly throwaway lyrically but the looping groove is really compelling, and the ornamentation of ride cymbal-bell is exquisite. The Blood, the Wine, the Roses is a great album closer and brings the musical level back up to the heights of the first two thirds of the album.

So overall apart from two slightly weaker songs towards the end of A Line of Deathless Kings, and the slightly passé sexuality of I Cannot Be Loved, this album is completely intoxicating and sombre and quite mature, and My Dying Bride hasn't captured an emotional depth like it since, with the possible exception of the mysterious opacity of The Ghost of Orion. This line-up deserved more albums, but then again A Line of Deathless Kings is so intense and reflective you probably couldn't summon it up twice. I have no idea why it isn't mentioned more, but anyway it's certainly the most overlooked My Dying Bride album, and nearly their best.