Released: 2011, Peaceville Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
I’ve been a loyal follower of UK doom stalwarts My Dying Bride for longer than I care to admit; through ups and downs, through good and EVINTA, I’ve been there. But its releases like their new THE BARGHEST O’ WHITBY EP that reaffirms my faith in the band. A single 27-minute opus based on a legendary hellhound who preys upon lonely travelers in the Whitby area of Yorkshire, it could have just as easily been titled “A MUSICAL SUMMATION OF MY DYING BRIDE IN 3 ACTS,” or simply “THE BEST FREAKIN’ TUNE THESE GUYS HAVE WRITTEN IN WHO KNOWS HOW LONG.” Yessir, this one is the ish.
Though I jest in my suggestions for alternate titles, but I contend that they both hold true. A lament performed in 3 distinct acts, the single track behaves like a crash course on everything you ever needed to know about My Dying Bride. Act 1 builds from the echoes of rumbling thunder, a the bleak strains of a violin are accompanied by single string guitar harmonies which give way to Aaron Stainthorpe’s growl and a musical backdrop that slowly ascends in prominence. The band settles into a riff carried by a now crooning Stainthorpe creating an ominous that either has been missing for a while or just sounds really good (I’ll let you make up your own minds on that one). Act 2 segways into sullen orchestration, forgoing that kinetic energy for a resigned level of melancholy. The tune slowly fades away, lulling you into a false sense of desolate conclusion only to slowly reemerge like a specter on the moors. Things begin to get a little crazy as the curtain opens on Act 3; the harmonies are off key, the warbles are pained, and then…a hostile crescendo of crunching riffs and manic vocals worthy of AS THE FLOWER WITHERS. It’s an ugly, heavy finale, and it’s amazing to hear. It’s not the most complex track in the band’s catalog by a long shot, but it’s masterfully arranged and executed. 27 minutes later, you only want to hear more.
Whatever mojo the band summoned for this tune, I really hope it’s not a fluke. This is the caliber of material that fans of the band have come to expect from My Dying Bride and that has helped to cement the band’s status as legends of the genre. The packaging is beautiful (complete with artwork again courtesy of Mr. Stainthorpe himself) and the lack of extras goodies shouldn’t phase you; “The Barghest O’ Whitby” is good enough to stand on its own and deserves to be the sole point of focus for the listener. Though it’s been out since early November, there hasn’t been too much hoopla in the press about THE BARGHEST O’ WHITBY, which is a shame compared to how many times I see names like Five Finger Deathcrap or Slipknuts. Pride yourself on being a listener of quality tunes and show your support with your wallets; this is another gem in My Dying Bride’s crown of sympathy and one that’s worth your coin.