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My Dying Bride : The Manuscript (EP)


My Dying Bride’s latest EP remains inconclusive and does not quite deliver the promise made by their last full-length, but fans still need it for the title track alone.



With their latest album A Map of All Our Failures, UK veterans My Dying Bride stirred up quite some enthusiasm throughout the scene. Even though they did not return to their Death Doom roots, they surely presented some of their best material since they first turned to a softer approach with their classic The Angel and the Dark River back in 1995. And as announced by Aaron in the phone interview he gave for our website, that was not the end of it: they had recorded four more songs during the same sessions which were yet to be released in the form of an EP. Said EP, The Manuscript, has been out for almost a year now, but this is Doom after all… Still, it would seem about time to take it under scrutiny.

Upon pressing the play button, the close connection to the last album is immediately perceptible. The opening title track alone makes the EP an obligatory purchase for all fans of the band: it brings you all the qualities of a great MDB song, including lush riffs and lead guitars, fantastic violin lines, classic vocals and pounding drums, all of this embedded in a mature arrangement and presented through a crystal-clear production. To top it off, “The Manuscript” closes with a surprising acoustic section, something we have not heard too often throughout the band’s catalogue.

For the second song, a Swedish title (“Vår Gud Över Er”, which translates to „Our God Over Yours“) has been chosen, supposedly to reflect the band’s perception of it as epic, warrior-themed Death Metal (according to what Aaron said in another interview). It is indeed the only track on the EP that features Death Metal vocals, and it does sound slightly more aggressive and epic than the rest of the tracks, but still the difference in style is not as striking as suggested by Aaron. Just like the title track, the lyrics seem to deal with how religious doctrines are, and have been, used to excuse violence and bloodshed, introducing a welcome sense of continuity to the release. Unfortunately, the first track puts listeners in too optimistic a mood, making the unexpected drop in musical quality all the more disappointing. Mind you, this is by no means a bad song – the arrangement is coherent and has been thought out carefully. But where has all the freshness and emotional immediacy gone that made A Map of All Our Failures such a success? With its straightforward approach, “Vår Gud Över Er“ is a step back to the average quality of previous MDB albums (A Line of Deathless Kings comes to mind in particular), which were never actually weak, but often too polished and predictable to inspire a downright euphoric response.

With “A Pale Shroud of Longing”, the style returns to that of the opening track, but after a promising beginning including another great violin melody and (most importantly!) a very pleasant acoustic break, the song drifts off into shockingly simplistic and unimaginative riffing which is repeated ad nauseam to no discernible end. Even after repeated listens, the arrangement seems inconclusive, resulting in a regrettable waste of potential. Again, it is not actually bad, but in connection with the preceding album, I would have expected much more (and clearly, the band can do better than this). The EP closes with a stripped-down doomy ballad the likes of which you do not hear too often. However, “Only Tears to Replace Her With” seems a little lost in the context of this short release and might have worked better in the context of a full-length, but of course this does not diminish the quality of the song as such. The opening and closing tracks are thus the most relevant and interesting compositions.

On the whole, The Manuscript is a solid EP and fans will most likely feel obliged to add it to their collection (if they have not done so already). It is, however, a bit of a mixed bag and therefore hardly one of MDB’s most essential releases, and neither is it a good introduction to their catalogue. Close followers will most likely notice its shortcomings right away, and unfortunately it does not really grow on you; instead, its strange aftertaste remains no matter how much you try to fully enjoy it. Imagine eating a soup which has not been stirred properly: with the first spoonful you are lucky and it tastes as expected, but then all of a sudden, the potatoes are missing, next time there is too much pepper and with the last spoon, you feel like eating a different soup altogether which calls for a proper dessert. You may not be hungry anymore once your bowl is empty, but your meal was a strange and, ultimately, not a satisfactory one. Stir more carefully next time, I say.


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Reviewer's rating: 7/10

Information

Tracklist :
1. The Manuscript
2. Vår Gud Över Er
3. A Pale Shroud of Longing
4. Only Tears to Replace Her With

Duration : Approx. 27 minutes

Visit the My Dying Bride bandpage.

Reviewed on 2014-03-12 by Dominik Sonders
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