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balls - 22%

Noktorn, March 13th, 2008

'Like Gods Of The Sun' is frequently referred to as the 'forgotten' My Dying Bride album (though most people conspicuously abstain from mentioning that it's forgotten for a reason), rather handily eclipsed through being sandwiched between 'The Angel And The Dark River', a periodically interesting doom/death album, and the infamous '34.788%... Complete', probably the best example ever of My Dying Bride thinking that they're misunderstood geniuses. The interim album, though, never got much attention, which makes perfect sense, as this is probably the one My Dying Bride album that lacks identity and focus more than any other in their lengthy catalog. At once more dreary, shuffling, and lifeless than 'As The Flower Withers' and more dripping with gothic cheese than 'Turn Loose The Swans', 'Like Gods Of The Sun' manages to be everything present in My Dying Bride's career all at once and accomplish precisely nothing with all those elements.

Consider the opening track, the first riff of which seems to be the horrific byproduct of a back alley tryst between Black Sabbath and a vaguely pedophiliac thirty-something at a goth club with a semi and a flask full of rohypsbinthe. And just like the night you'll have if you decide to talk to him, the rest of the song, along with nearly the whole album, is entirely unmemorable. Generally operating at an utterly plodding midpace and boasting some of the most uninspired doom/death melodies known to man, 'Like Gods Of The Sun' manages to do what previously seemed impossible: make an album brimming with melodrama and pseudo-emotion feel completely and utterly emotionless. I don't know how; maybe it's how the band insists on using rehashed death metal melodies from the early '90s instead of just going for the weepy gothic moneyshot, or how Aaron Stainthorpe, for all his (hurrrrmph) lyrical prowess, is unable to convey a feeling beyond pretentious apathy, or how none of the songs seem to have any fucking idea what they're supposed to be doing, with all the members glancing at each other more to figure out where they're supposed to be than your average goregrind concert.

There is one bright spot; a veritable supernova of one, if all the more luminous due to the content around it. 'For My Fallen Angel' is amazing and has a subtlety to it completely absent from the rest of My Dying Bride's catalog, even though it'll just seem stunningly gay if you're not either A in the mood for it or B particularly receptive to violin-and-purring-gothic-narration-type stuff. It works for me because I'm really a closet goth who listens to early Cradle Of Filth and actually thinks 'Funeral In Carpathia' is emotionally compelling, i.e., an overwrought bitch. That being said, MOST people seem to really like it; it's a standout track in My Dying Bride's history. Now, this would all be well and good if the rest of the album was just violins and sad narrations and romantic misery, but it's NOT: it's My Dying Bride attempting to be a doom metal band instead of sticking to the fruity but awesome melodies that they're so good at. And that is why this album fails.

Hell, that's probably why My Dying Bride fails so often as a band: they keep desperately clinging to the things they suck at out of some sort of nostalgia instead of just going for the gothic jugular that everyone else craves. This sucks, but 'For My Fallen Angel' is a great song, so download it (if you really care, buy it on Itunes or something) and play it like twenty times while you weep into your Hello Kitty comforter. It makes for a great evening.