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Gothic Ambien. - 60%

Crank_It_Up_To_666, March 23rd, 2015
Written based on this version: 2013, CD, Peaceville Records

Like any blossoming psychotic, I hate it when the universe turns out to be listening to me. Last week’s whole paragraph of blithering about how creepy the new Church of Misery album cover is has caused fate to drop ‘The Manuscript’ squarely into my lap, and what a horrible contrast it provides. Look at that cover. Go on, look at it. You’re right, it is one of the most utterly bland covers a doom band (or any band) of this standing could put out, but sadly, it’s a very appropriate one; like its binding, there’s not much to recommend ‘The Manuscript’ itself once it’s opened and laid out before you.

To be fair, only the most demanding pimp at Peaceville HQ could reasonably expect a stop-gap EP like this to be another ‘Songs of Darkness, Words of Light’, and avid fans will no doubt find enough of interest to fill up an idle twenty-seven minutes of the day. Hell, it’s admirable that My Dying Bride can go that length on an EP and keep things at the very least interesting – how many thrash and grind albums of that length can you name, right now, that can’t pass that muster? Exactly. It also feels a touch unfair to damn MDB for this after last year’s positively brilliant full-length ‘A Map of All Our Failures’, an essential release for contemporary doom fanatics.

But sadly, only about one-fourth of ‘The Manuscript’ will hold much interest for non-devotees. ‘Var Gud Over Er’ and the (more comprehensibly named) title track have the uppy-downy doomy-woomy parts all present and correct, with ‘Only Tears to Replace Her With’ popping up as the cheerily mournful prerequisite of any MDB release, but they can’t help but feel a touch too understated; lacklustre and workaday where MDB are usually hypnotising and/or pleasantly soporific. There is, however, a saving grace - the simply gorgeous ‘A Pale Shroud of Longing’ goes some way to make up for these deficiencies. The wail of the violin having now become the universal signifier for MDB cutting loose and indulging themselves on a great big slice of Black Gothic Gateau. Delicious stuff, and one song, at least, not worth missing.


{Originally published: Soundshock Webzine, 28/05/2013}