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My Silent Wake : Damnatio Memoriae

A stripped-down line-up for this latest full-length sees My Silent Wake putting modern polish to the classic Peaceville sound.

My Silent Wake have been around for 10 years now, and if you look purely at number of records released, they must surely beat most other bands by a long shot. By my estimate, 'Damnatio Memoriae' is their eighth full length, with numerous singles, EPs and compilations to their name also. Other than band founder Ian Arkley, the line-up is completely different to that of previous records, but this is nothing new, with numerous line-up changes throughout the bands history. By all accounts this latest record has been completed for some time but has seen a few setbacks on the road to release setbacks that have happily now been resolved.

The last full length from the band, 2014's 'Eye of the Needle' consisted mainly of long atmospheric experimental/ambient compositions (including some reworkings of earlier songs), with sparse clean guitars instead of more traditional heavy/distorted sounds. 'Damnatio Memoriae' returns to a sound closer to that heard on 2013's 'Silver Under Midnight', a sound that is reminiscent of the English Gothic Death/Doom acts of the early 90's, with Paradise Lost probably being the closest comparison. Excellent death growls are mixed with deep and foreboding clean vocals, lead guitars layer harmonies upon harmonies upon harmonies and the rhythm section lays down some very satisfying riffing.

The record kicks off with a number of mid-paced riffy affairs, full of the aforementioned multi layered harmonies. For me though things, get most interesting when things are slowed down, such as on 'Black Oil' which to me sounds very much like a tribute to Toto's 'Main Theme' from the 1984 Dune soundtrack. This could be entirely coincidental, although coupled with the title 'Black Oil' and all the fact that the spice melange in Dune could be seen as an allegory for oil... I'm not so sure. Either way, this is an excellent moody track that sees the best usage of cleaner vocals on the record.

Another highlight is the 14 minute 'The Empty Unknown' which starts with a Jesu-alike semi distorted guitar lick before breaking into the doomiest section on the whole record. A sparse and atmospheric middle section builds back up to epic heights.

The rest of the songs reside at a similar mid-paced level as the first three, which seems to be the albums signature sound. There is enough variety to keep things interesting though, with interesting guitar and vocal effects added to the mix, and sections such as the intro of 'And So It Comes To An End' (disappointingly found midway through the album, as that is a great name for a closer!) which emphasise the bands ear for a beautiful melody.

Recording/Mixing was handled by Esoteric's Greg Chandler at Priory Recording studios. If you have heard recent records from the likes of The Prophecy, Pantheist, Indesinence, (EchO), or any number of other bands Greg has worked with then you know what to expect on a production front. Everything is crystal clear, tight and extremely polished. The end result is one of mainstream levels of quality, without sacrificing heaviness. Production wise, it is certainly My Silent Wake's most accomplished effort to date.

For me, I think the record could have used a few extra slow/atmospheric sections, but that is very much a personal preference, and I certainly don't have a shortage of records to listen to that offer me that, including some from My Silent Wake's back catalogue. When taken in the context of the bands career as a whole, 'Damnatio Memoriae' certainly strikes a good balance between various tempos and styles and should keep most fans of the 'Peaceville Three' sound happy.

My Silent Wake take a classic sound that had its heyday over 20 years ago and successfully bring it into the present. While some bands have been content to completely ape the early 90s sound, including the often poor early 90s production, My Silent Wake have brought a modern polished sound to the style. Recommended to old and new fans alike.

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Reviewer's rating: 8.5/10


Tracklist :
1. Of Fury
2. Highwire
3. Now It Destroys
4. Black Oil
5. And So It Comes To An End
6. The Innocent
7. The Empty Unknown
8. Chaos Enfolds Me

Duration : Approx. 55 minutes

Visit the My Silent Wake bandpage.

Reviewed on 2015-04-10 by Kris Clayton
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