Reviewed: January 2000
Released: 1999, Peaceville Records
Reviewer: Nathan Robinson
It still seems like My Dying Bride’s last album “34.778% Complete” just came out, but here we are with another new album! And holy shit does it RULE! Everything you may have heard is true…they have gone backwards in time and created a heavy, emotional, dark, sorrowful slab of doom! Yes, these guys have gone back to the classic My Dying Bride sound ala “Turn Loose the Swans” and “The Angel and the Dark River”!
First of all, let’s back up and just look at the CD. The old logo is back. The artwork is dark. The song titles sound gloomy. And the songs are damn long! There are nine songs on this disc, two of which break the ten-minute mark and one that breaks the 11-minute mark. The total running time for this album is almost 72 minutes!!! Beautiful!
The music is a combination of the styles presented on “Turn Loose…”, “The Angel…”, and also “Like Gods of the Sun”. The guitars are heavy, with those classic eerie passages, depressing harmonies, and lonely melodies. From slow plodding doom to midpaced aggression, everything you’d expect of classic My Dying Bride is here. Once again there has been some lineup changes. Guitarist Calvin Robertshaw has left Andrew Craighan to perform all of the guitars on the album. And he pulled it off fabulously! You won’t even know Calvin is gone, sorry to say. The guitars are quite layered to give the album a full sound. And some of the most monumentally doomy riffs ever written by the band are on this album! For example, track 3 (“The Night He Died”) at the 1:55 minute mark and track four (title track) at the 2:48 minute mark. Andrew also performed all of the keyboards, which builds up the atmosphere effectively. Also departed is drummer Bill Law, who apparently never was a permanent replacement for original drummer Rick Miah anyhow. Taking Bill’s place is Shaun Steels, who does an excellent job and who must have studied Rick’s performance, as it sounds like Rick never left! But let’s get to what everyone really wants to know…has Aaron Stainthorpe done it? Has he used his death vocals? Hell yes he has! Welcome back! It has been a long time since he’s used them, but they are back and in plentiful quantity! His overall performance on this album is one of his best, due to the variation between his clean and death vocals. And even his death vocals alone have variety. Plus, the lyrics are in the traditional gothic My Dying Bride vein. So there you have it!
Appearing on the new album is “Sear Me III”. You will recall that the original version, on the debut album “As the Flower Withers” was doomy death metal. The second version, on “Turn Loose the Swans”, was just keyboards, violin, and vocals. In other words, NOT heavy. Now we have the third version, which is consistent with the rest of the album in terms of style. And it’s an altogether different song than the original version. But though the use of a copied drum beat, part of a similar guitar riff, and parts of identical lyrics, this third version hints at the previous two. The only thing missing from this album is violin…like classic My Dying Bride. I am still miss former violinist/keyboardist Martin Powell. I mean, how often does a killer violinist come across in metal? A second guitarist has joined the band. His name is Hamish Glencross, and he is not present on the album. So you Europeans will have to catch him when My Dying Bride hits the road this year!
This album is just plainly AWESOME! And you would be a fool not to get it if you are a fan of this band! Visit the band’s web site for additional information: www.mydyingbride.org
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