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My Dying Bride : Songs of Darkness, Words of Light

After three years of waiting, My Dying Bride has unleashed the follow up for 'The Dreadful Hours' unto the world. Expectations were high, as ever, to see if the band would be able to live up to its reputation, which has grown to immense proportions over the past few years. Especially since the band's change of style on 'The Light at the End of the World', critiques were always mixed. On the one hand, one can only praise the apparent return to death/doom, but on the other hand the band hasn't been very innovating since then. But this release is sure to turn a few heads that had dismissed the band because of this, as well as gain the band many new fans.

As the first notes of 'The Wreckage of My Flesh' hit your eardrums it becomes clear that this album has an emphasis on dark atmosphere, perhaps even more so than any other My Dying Bride album. This feeling lasts throughout the album, on which obscure riffs, low, heavy keys and ominous spoken word parts determine the colour of the sound, which is near pitch black. Especially Aaron's 'storytelling' is an important asset of this album, giving some of the songs an epic, tangible quality. It's almost as if you're there at times. In these respects, the band has finally been able to transcend the previous albums.

This isn't a unanimous success, though. For starters, Aaron's clean vocals and lyrics are a bit of a drag at times. One can only hear him go on about "death", "desire" and "laying (someone) down" so many times before getting enough of it. My guess is that this only goes for those who have known the band for a time, but still. Over more, one is reminded of previous works too often to be able to speak of a truly revolutionary album. The band still walks its own trodden path, which is all but paved after fourteen years of work. It seems that the band has little desire to experiment with their music and have chosen to remain within their own self-styled niche of doom, where their success stems from.

As a final point of criticism I just have to note the horrible cover art. While some will probably not understand what I dislike about it, it reminds me far too much of the style certain popular black metal bands employ to draw the attention of unsuspecting teenagers in music stores. The whole thing looks rather tasteless to me, while we are used too much more imaginative things from MDB.. Rather than hire out the work to Andy Green, Aaron should have picked up the (digital) brush himself and done a proper work.

Despite these previous three things, MDB. has actually improved a great deal since the last album. The absence of too much experimentation, combined with a more profound idea of the sound they wanted to achieve make this album more focused, pure - more doomy, even - than 'The Dreadful Hours'. One needs only note the crushing atmosphere of the opening track, the dark romantic (MDB. pur sang) quality of 'Catherine Blake' and the tasteful use of organ on some songs, etc. to discover that.

In short, this is a quality album. Not spectacular, considering the band's already intimidating oeuvre, but a great deal better than many, including me, would have expected. This is a must for any (aspiring) doom lover and also recommended to those who have put this band aside; this album may very well pleasantly surprise you!

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. The Wreckage of My Flesh
2. The Scarlet Garden
3. Catherine Blake
4. My Wine in Silence
5. The Prize of Beauty
6. The Blue Lotus
7. And My Fury Stands Ready
8. A Doomed Lover

Duration : Approx. 59 minutes

Visit the My Dying Bride bandpage.

Reviewed on ??-??-???? by Oscar Strik
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