Everyone has that band or style of music that they turn to in rough times. Sometimes, when the lights are off, the room is dark, and things just aren't going your way, you find solace elsewhere. Our emo brethren have long been fans of The Smiths, something to make the outsiders feel welcome into the club. For country fans, there have always been floods of songs about how "she done left me, took mah dog and mah truck." But for metal fans, it isn't always so simple. The undisputed kings of doom and gloom, My Dying Bride, hold that special place in the hearts and minds of many fans across the world, their unique combination of pain and salvation so often welcomed. But even more than that, is the consistency with which this band has created these masterpieces. Even as the laundry list of members, past and present, grows, the music has not wavered far from the graying path. Instead, it has evolved into something darker, more empty, and yet so much more fulfilling. The new EP, "The Manuscript" is 23 years removed from the beginning of this band, but it may be a crowning achievement on a career that shows no sign of slowing down.
There is no doubt, a mere two seconds into the title track, that you have stumbled back into the melancholic territory of My Dying Bride. Vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe, whose voice could be considered synonymous with sadness and morose, croons over the usual bed of slow drums and guitars. His whispers can haunt your dreams, sounding as though they've come from the other side. Paired with the cries of violin from Shaun MacGowan, you have a stunning mix of moving and emotional elements. The latter stages of the track, comprised of two clean, acoustic guitars furnished by Andrew Craighan and Hamish Glencross, is the perfect setup for the next track. Whimsy gives way to crushing guitar lines and a deep growl from Stainthorpe, a theme that floods "Var Gud Over Er." Their guitar sound, dueling in so many ways, is a signature of a band that has been around the block more than a few times. This is the band at their darkened best, providing not only contrast from one track to the next, but within each movement. Even knowing that an eruption of drums is coming, as is the norm in a My Dying Bride opus, you are always excited when it finally hits. Rolling double kicks come and go, with the crash of cymbals book-ending them. It would seem impossible to sound so sad, and yet so evil at the same time.
A menacing guitar riff opens "A Pale Shroud Of Longing," which, while falling short in the time battle with the previous track, might perhaps be the more epic of the two. MacGowan gives a dazzling performance, one that is sure to tug at your strings in just the right way. But it is the way the band ties the two halves of the track together that rings most true. Solemn moments are surrounded by heavy ones, with some devilishly heavy guitar work crushing you at the most opportune moments. Stainthorpe's vocals just before the six minute mark, upbeat and yet somehow depressing, are an amazing elevation of the norm. Unlike so many of the tracks in the catalog, this one lends itself well to the notion of being played in a live setting, perhaps inspiring many a sad individual to lift their heads up in enjoyment. And what more fitting way to begin the closing track than with a spoken word passage of emotionally devastating themes? Yes, "Only Tears To Replace Her With" is a telling title, one that could not possible be confused for being a happy-go-lucky tune. The melody that dominates the track is mesmerizing. This stands out from the rest of the EP for so many reasons, and deserves multiple, uninterrupted listens to be fully appreciates for all of its simplicity and glory.
There is simply no disputing the power with which My Dying Bride operates, with every album, every song, every riff, every word handed to you, wrapped in a neat, bleak package. It's as if they can look into your innermost workings, and know exactly what they must do to tug at your heart strings. They might not depress you, though they do with many, but they will always strike a familiar chord. For more than two decades, they have been playing us, their fan base, like the solemn strings that coat their music. We bend, to and fro, with the emotional investments that are given and taken from us with each release. if that were all we had gotten from the library of this band, we would be thankful for it. But there is something so much more to it than that. Sure, we have our dark room companion. But this isn't a one dimensional, crying, sobbing piece of nonsense. There is merit to what they do, and what they've done here, that cements each album as a jewel in the crown of the unrivaled leaders of the pack. 23 years of cloudy skies have brought us to this point. And "The Manuscript" is exactly the disc we wanted, and needed.
Official Site - http://www.mydyingbride.net/
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