MY DYING BRIDE are one of those bands that have severely tested my loyalty over the years, and with a discography that ranges wildly from excellent to downright mediocre, no one can call these English doomsters the most consistent bunch out there. They pissed away a lot of the potential showed on their landmark “Turn Loose The Swans” release with the rather haphazard “34.788%... Complete”, then the “Light At The End Of The World” and “The Dreadful Hours” (my personal favourite) saw them breathe second wind into their career, before once again lapsing back into utter mediocrity with fare such as “A Line Of Deathless Kings” and “For Lies I Sire."
Are they still a viable act at this stage of their career? I’m not sure, but based on the half-baked character of “For Lies...,” I’m not feeling too optimistic. Stylistically speaking, this album has all the trademarks one expects from MDB – the slow, sonorous riffs, a downtrodden atmosphere, Aaron Stainsthorpe’s agonized vocals – but the way it’s all put together simply reeks of formula and lack of inspiration. OK, so the much-missed violins are back in the sonic brew, but they don’t really do much. The main problem here is that the songs tend to take too long to build that palpable sense of dread and intrigue. The first two tracks are decent if unspectacular, with opener “My Body, A Funeral” only getting interesting around the halfway mark. “ShadowHaunt” works because it’s a slightly more compact song, while the aforementioned violins help to build a relatively strong atmosphere in “Santuario Di Sangue”. These are some of the better tracks on offer here, but they are offset by piss-poor fare like “Bring Me Victory” and “Echoes From A Hollow Soul.” The biggest offender here, though, is the interesting yet fatally flawed bluster of “A Chapter Of Loathing.” In stark contrast to the rest of the album, it starts off with a blazing Death riff (complete with blastbeats...), and while this aggressive approach sounds good on paper it simply feels completely out of place here – it sticks out like a sore eye. It’s like the band just decided to stick it in there just to provide some sense of counterpoint, but it never truly ‘clicks.’ After this curious little train smash the album goes back to its torpid way with the 11 minute “Death Triumphant,” and more massive boredom ensues.
So yeah – I really didn’t enjoy this album too much. It has everything that the average MDB would expect but the overall product smacks of insipidness. It’ll be interesting to see what they come up with on “Evinta,” and methinks that if they don’t pull a rabbit out of the hat on said album they may very well go from being a Doom band to a Doomed one.
(Online May 21, 2011)