Yorkshire quintet MY DYING BRIDE have been a staple in most Doomheads’ diets for 22 years now (probably longer than some of them have been on this planet for) and while going a little off the deep end with their more experimental “34.788%...Complete”, they have not only been one of the seminal acts of Doom Metal, but also one of the most consistent. “A Map Of All Our Failures” is album number 12 and it will once more equally satisfy and stir up some controversy among the fanbase.
Two things that have always been mainstays in the Brits’ sound have been the eerie, at times almost theatrical atmosphere and the unique vocals of Aaron Stainthorpe, who knows perfectly how to instill anguish and despair into his performances, second to none. And “A Map Of All Our Failures” is no exception to this, even though there are a few surprises to be beheld.
That MY DYING BRIDE are no strangers to stronger Death Metal influences than many of their peers is no new development, but “Kneel Till Doomsday” still manages to surprise. Starting out with the bell tolling and giving way to a classic Doom riff, the sudden Death Metal assault takes you by surprise, venomous and wrathful going for your throat when you least expect it before returning to the Doom of before. And the Death Metal comes back in “Hail Odysseus”, even though on a less successful plane, because this what seems to be a choir behind the growls and over sewing machine double-kick drums just does - not - fit. Which is a pity, because on the rest of the track drummer Shaun Taylor-Steels can display his chops, with the drum patterns being very complex while maintaining the slow and dark character of the song.
The true strength of the band, though, has always been in their take on Doom (just look at the pure Doom of “Like A Perpetual Funeral”. maybe my personal favourite on the album), which is aided greatly by the tasteful infusion of the violin, where it never takes over the song or pushes into the foreground, instead adding to the atmosphere. I had mentioned the theatrical quality of some of MY DYING BRIDE’s work and “A Tapestry Scorned” has this spine-chilling narrative section with just the church organ in the background or the spoken word of the title track, which adds this extra dimension to the atmosphere. Short closer “Abandoned As Christ” has one more theatrical moment of grandeur, when Stainthorpe screams “Where was God when I most needed him?”, perfectly portraying the sense of abandonment and solitude.
With “The Map Of All Our Failures” MY DYING BRIDE once more manifest their status as one of the pillars of the earth, eh, Doom Metal genre, comfortably resting within their own niche without falling prey to the complacency other bands have had to succumb to. If you have been a fan of the Brits, this will be another favourite, if you have hated them up to now, rest assured that nothing will have changed for you either.
(Online October 18, 2012)