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My Dying Bride... isn't dead yet. - 90%

Sean16, April 26th, 2006

Sorry, this moronic pun was so tempting, I just couldn’t resist. Some may still consider Turn Loose the Swans as the ultimate MDB album, but people like me who hold The Dreadful Hours for their best effort and one of the ultimate gothic/doom albums of all time just have to love this one. Simply because it is just the logical following of this previous MDB opus, that means, the band keeps on melting the death-doom metal they are well-known for with more gothic influences. So, if you dislike MDB later works, what I may fully understand, just stop reading there, there is nothing more for you.

This album might be a step below The Dreadful Hours because of some filling moments, like And My Fury Stands Ready where more than half of the song consists in annoying minimalist guitar chords backed by ambient sounds, giving undoubtedly the weakest track here. But apart from that, this album only consists in the dark, depressive beauty of gothic/doom metal. Sure, joyful it is not, and MDB has never been anyway, but contrary to their first attempts at softer music, their last efforts never fall into sleep-inducing monotony. The Angel and the Dark River as well as Like Gods of the Sun had their moments and included some of my favourite MDB tracks (The Angel... especially, with The Cry of Mankind, A Sea to Suffer In and Two Winters Only), but failed to really keep the listener attentive until the very end in my opinion. This is not the case with this release, though one can’t really say the band has noticeably sped up. Still the same slow, creeping, slightly down-tuned doom riffs, Aaron’s deep and discouraged voice, and poetically sick lyrics.

As stated before everything that has been said and written about The Dreadful Hours could apply to this album, but this is fortunately not a sterile repetition of the aforementioned masterpiece. The band has gone a step further in the gothic direction, with the more widespread use of slightly distorted vocals and more blatant keyboards, thus a stronger emphasis on dark atmospheres, without ever falling into mellow so-called atmospheric blandness fortunately. Spoken parts are also still well present, as well as more aggressive growls which might well add the energy the softer works were lacking of. After all, My Dying Bride is one of the last well-known acts to keep the flame of early 90’s death-doom metal alive, when almost every famous band, from Paradise Lost to Katatonia, has turned to pop-rock.

Granted, this album doesn’t exhibit such utterly gloomy tracks as The Dreadful Hours (the song) or the agonizing Le Figlie Della Tempesta, but crushing pieces of 1000 tons weighing doom as the opening track The Wreckage of My Flesh (which takes quite a while before really beginning though) or the closing A Doomed Lover and its impressive crescendo ending are not likely to make you feel very light and easy. Nor is the beautiful bass and guitar-driven ballad My Wine in Silence, which again shows how an impressive clean vocalist Aaron can occasionally be. Don’t worry, growls are also present, this album may even be the most growled MDB album in years. Eventually my personal favourite may be the both touching and complex Catherine Blake, perfect mixture between MDB old doom/death style and their more gentle works, but this album has really to be listened to as a whole as each song, though sounding very different from the others, is part of the general dark, and almost MORBID, atmosphere.

With this release My Dying Bride’s future looks very gloomy. What, for this band, means of course it looks bright.

Highlights: The Scarlet Garden, Catherine Blake, My Wine in Silence, The Prize of Beauty, A Doomed Lover