My Dying Bride
1. Silent Dance
2. Sear Me
3. The Forever People
4. The Bitterness And The Bereavement
5. Vast Choirs
6. The Return Of The Beautiful
7. Erotic Literature
To the doom faithful, My Dying Bride represents a towering monument to human misery. Despair reigns supreme throughout this album, gripping the listener with waves of depression and gloom. Or, if you're not really a doom fanatic, it just sort of rumbles by without much of an impression. As the Flower Withers is not an album that compromises anything for the sake of appealing to anyone besides those who proudly stamp "I Need Prozak" on their hands. The oppressive wall of crushing guitars, occasional symphonic washes and of course Aaron's tortured death sounds do not make for a very pleasant listen. As an outsider, I can recognize the inherent appeal to fans of the genre but at the same time I cannot find my way through this gauze of despair without wanting to pop something happy, like Emperor, into the CD player. On the several listens I've given this CD, it has still yet to make an attempt to draw me in. You can read that as indifference on my part towards doom metal or the lack of songwriting punch on their part to truly soak the listener in waves of sadness.
Review by John Chedsey
Review date: 06/1999
1. Sear Me MCMXCIII
2. Your River
3. The Songless Bird
4. The Snow In My Hand
5. The Crown Of Sympathy
6. Turn Loose The Swans
7. Black God
Sure it has flaws: the drums are not loud enough, the bass sound is too hollow, the recording seems a little "empty" at times. But these are all secondary and external to the music - largely irrelevant. And sure you won't find any paeans or hymns here: the mood is always resigned, melancholic and definitely anti-religious. But that's what you're looking for if you seek to buy this CD in the first place. All players are technically proficient, but more importantly, they really know how to express certain experiences of their life as music. In addition, the album flows very well - you won't ever need to skip a part or a track in spite of the slowness. They're considered to be a part of the "big three" of British doom, but outshine their peers by a large measure. This album, though, especially stands aside. Everything else in the genre or indeed other records by the very same band everything is soiled by human imperfections and fallibilites. It will forever stand outside of the genre as the rightfully arrogant gauge for all albums to come - it is objectively good. Nothing quite as moving has come out of metal, since. Get some hallucinogens, don't sleep for two days, off the lights, gag your pets, and enter...
Tragedy becomes an art form, the world becomes blurred and people and events become surreal in the afterglow of experiencing this masterpiece. My Dying Bride take sorrowful music to the next level - using violins, piano and guitars to create melodies of devastating despondence. This is immensely intense...yet sublimely detached. This comes scandalously close to musical perfection: every note has a purpose and is a brick in a structure enviable by the most accomplished surrealist/gothic architect.
First comes Version MCMXCIII of "Sear Me" (originally heard on As the Flower Withers, their previous album). The guitar parts from the original are played on the piano, with the violin weeping behind Aaron's sombre vocals. Starkly minimalistic threnody with elegiac lyrics: imagery of medieval lovers...on their deathbed. Of just the right length at seven and a half minutes, too.
"Your River" is introduced with some sedative piano, but soon explodes into an amazing interplay between heavy guitars and violin: incredible chugging riffage (reminiscent of early Celtic Frost and Candlemass), haunting "stretched out" violin sections and some great drum work. Drumming for a doom album is difficult, but Rick manages it flawlessly providing a skeleton and a "feel" of time for the listeners to follow. It is so good to hear that he didn't indulgence in sloth or sloppiness "just because it's doom metal".
The plodding middle part is really where the vocals start - the riff stretches out into cycles repeated every about fifteen seconds; the cymbals are all that prevent loss of coherence due to the painful slowness. And yet, it is beautiful. What can I say? Aggressive growling concludes the epic...Aaron becomes the doomsday-lunatic on the street screaming into the face of bypassers:
The delivery is chilling.
"The Songless Bird" is the least soporific among the tracks on this album, but no less intense. Mid paced (fast relative to the rest) metal with roaring instruments and terrifying vocals/lyrics:
And how could I forget the beautiful interlude? The violin sings like a flute with the joyous accompaniment of the piano. Aaron is present yet again to complement.
"The Snow in my Hand" is a scathing attack on christianity, with some classic riffs and arrangements. No other doom band has such an intuitive sense of sequencing riffs and blending a brilliant one into another. Aaron spites Jesus with his trademark growls, philosophises on life while the other resident nihilists carry a well-written song on their then-inexperienced shoulders. This is great work!
And with "The Crown of Sympathy" we get the crowning glory, the pinnacle, the attainment of my Elysium. All instruments build segments of a dismal ecstacy: dark, lush guitarwork that will evoke strong responses from any sentient being. The violin and piano probe and pierce the musical foreground of our traditional metal instruments - compromise is reached with no compromise at all; we get an interesting fabric weaved by the rock solid heavy metal noisemaking units [distortion pedal, double bass, thumping bass guitar...] and fluid dances of the wild cards [violin, piano, keyboards, horns]. Riffs are fabulously downcast and right from the start we get a build-up and a sence of anticipation towards something even more beautiful and surreal. And the reward: convergence of independent timbres to a frightening interlude. It is practically a period of limbo, of stagnance with empty space making most of the magic.
Drudging drums and ethereal horns fall into place behind the slow and stylish vocals and this catatonic state is sustained masterfully for about 3 minutes before reverting to an earlier segement and a sensible fade-out finish.
"Turn Loose the Swans" is the tale of home - the earth pillaged by a regressive species. Told entirely as an account of the violation of the allegorical Diana, it employes a highly abstract literary and theatrical style. Autistic poetry, effective as anything (everything) else on this record. Abstract to the point of seeming retarded, almost, sometimes, anyway.
Sonically this is conveyed by diabolical, sinister guitar/violin/bass work with definitive elements of gothic composition: the feel that emanates needs no lyrical aid to tell the story. Sounds of rainfall and nature add to the realism...all they really needed was a church organ, and they would've been satan's court musicians.
Last comes "Black God". Lachrymose, pacific female vocals are a suitable backdrop to Aaron's spoken word and a gently caressive violin. It relaxes, definitely, but it also disturbs. Stygian moods, and a return to the medievalesque romanticism found in "Sear Me MCMXCIII". Fade out, and silence.
Review by Rahul Joshi
Review date: 03/1999
1. Symphonaire Infernus Et Spera Empyrium
2. God Is Alone
3. De Sade Soliloquay
4. The Thrash Of Naked Limbs
5. Le Cerf Malade
6. Gather Me Up Forever
7. I Am The Bloody Earth
8. The Crown Of Sympathy (remix)
9. The Sexuality Of Bereavement
Early My Dying Bride was not really something that was meant to be given many listens or enthusiastic initial responses. Considering their utterly morose musical style and truly wretched approach to doom, a listener must give their music quite a few spins before a solid opinion can be formed. And even then it's rather difficult to precisely cover their sound properly. Trinity is a collection of three early EPs in the band's career and makes for a good addendum to your My Dying Bride collection, acting very solidly as a full length.
The first three songs, derived from the 1991 Symphonaire Infernus Et Spera Empyrium Ep, are really nothing more than the blueprint for the "classic" My Dying Bride sound: slow brooding tempos, heavy guitar chunks and violin sprinkles and of course Aaron's bellow. Very early My Dying Bride, including this EP and As the Flower Withers, has never been particularly effective for me. But as Trinity moves forward in time, the music becomes much more interesting. The sound doesn't particularly change a great deal, but blossoms into a more fully realized approach. "Le Cerf Malade" is a very haunting, ambient piece that is effective and captures a very strong mood. "The Crown of Sympathy (Remix)" is more reminscient of recent My Dying Bride and features Aaron's mumbling, pained clean vocals as well as a fairly ambitious song structure. "The Sexuality of Bereavement" is another prototypical My Dying Bride song that begins with the saddened violin passage and thoroughly plodding guitars and hard hit drums.
Overall, Trinity is the kind of thing that deserves the occasional listen when your mood is utterly appropriate for dismal, oppressive music. You certainly won't have the urge to put this on every single day, but for doom enthusiasts, this is definitely a required package.
Review by John Chedsey
Review date: 06/2000
1. Cry Of Mankind
2. From Darkest Skies
3. Black Voyage
4. A Sea To Suffer In
5. Two Winters Only
6. Your Shameful Heaven
7. The Sexuality Of Bereavement
1. Your River
2. A Sea To Suffer In
3. Your Shameful Heaven
4. The Forever People
In physics, there is a perplexing theory called Schroedinger's Cat. In essence, a cat is placed into a box and sealed off. With a whole lot of baffling quantum mechanics & lack of a qualified observer, one cannot say for sure if the cat is dead or alive. Instead, one can only assume a state of quantum limbo.
My Dying Bride is in a similar state. As of this new release, MDB finds themselves enclosed in a box, also in limbo. The listener, in effect, becomes the qualified observer by placing this CD into his/her stereo and asking the question, "Is MDB dead or alive?"
Logic would dictate a cut and dried answer. Real life results a different solution. On the epic opening track, the band erupts from the box fully alive. They even find a slice of atmosphere in the beautiful closing minutes of the song. Further into the album, however, MDB appears entrenched in quantum muck. The songs plod, the singer whines in a cartoonish off-key goth voice, and it is hard to feel anything from the music. MDB comes off yearning for identity, to be classified dead or alive. In the final song, "The Sexuality of Bereavement" (ever wonder what Brits do at funerals?), they appear dead, with Aaron using his decent death growls from yesterday.
Overall, MDB is definitely in an experimental stage, with their leanings towards a blend of gothic doom metal & atmospheric metal (similar to what Tiamat has been doing). There are moments of shine throughout, but too many passages blandly run together to lose the listener in the fog. They have all the violins and keyboards necessary...now they just need to write brilliant songs to come out alive.
P.S. The bonus live CD captures the band playing live at the Dynamo (as if you hadn't gleaned that from the title). Aaron sounds horribly off-key on the newer material, but his 'tween song chit-chat makes the listen worthwhile.
Review by John Chedsey
Review date: 02/1997
1. Like Gods Of The Sun
2. The Dark Caress
3. Grace Unhearing
4. A Kiss To Remember
5. All Swept Away
6. For You
7. It Will Come
8. Here In The Throat
9. For My Fallen Angel
10. It Will Come (Nightmare)
This album seems to be My Dying Bride's least talked-about record. Is it not oppressing enough? Too fast? Too slow? It may simply be because it is nothing to write home about, at least as far as My Dying Bride music is concerned.
While a few song bits ("A kiss to remember") are quite rocking and suggest that nobody died in any of the musicians' families the day they were written (as rocking as pre-34.788%...complete MDB let themselves be, anyway), the music is generally slow, dirgey, doomy, and oppressive. The vocals are clean, expressive, depressed and monotonous. The production is better than on earlier releases, but not significantly more pleasant than it was on The Angel and the Dark River. But it has all been heard before, and while that is not inherently a flaw and might in fact please die-easy MDB fans, Like Gods of the Sun is rather redundant and not very compelling.
Maybe that's why nobody talks about this album.
Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier
Review date: 06/2001
1. The Whore And The Cook And The Mother
2. The Stance Of Evander Sinoue
3. Der Uberlebende
4. Heroin Chic
5. Apocalypse Woman
6. Base Level Erotica
7. Under Your Wings And Into Your Arms
Somewhere along the line My Dying Bride decided taking major detours soundwise was the appropriate course. Befitted with a oblique, mysterious album title (34.788%...complete) and a more experimental approach than the past, this latest offering is a product that on first listen is very unfocused. However, on each subsequent spin I have actually found myself digging up more and enjoying it more. The number one top complaint as reported by consumer advocates is the vocal department. Aaron, who has improved his clean vocals from what I last remember in The Angel and the Dark River, tends to mumble and talk sinister a bit much throughout. His worst offense is the truly unfocused "Heroin Chic", which is more of a sound collage with Aaron incessently muttering "Nah nah nah, nah nah nah". However, momentary weak vocals and unrecommended songs aside, the rest of the album is quite good. "Der Uberlebende" contains a bit of a throwback to the violin days of the Bride, with slow, haunting orchestration. The opener "The Whore and the Cook and the Mother" contains an excellent quiet but ethereal middle passage and "Base Level Erotica" succeeds with a simple, moving descending guitar riff. 34.788% is one hundred percent enjoyable, assuming you give yourself enough time to let it sink in.
Review by John Chedsey
Review date: 01/1999
1. She Is The Dark
3. The Night He Died
4. The Light At The End Of The World
5. The Fever Sea
6. Into The Lake Of Ghosts
7. The Isis Sript
9. Sear Me III
Amidst the overall dislike for My Dying Bride's previous album, 34.788%...Complete, the band immediately seemed to embrace an "older style" in interviews. Naturally, a skeptical guy like myself who did like 34.788% and is not so fond of the older doom and grump sound is not necessarily going to be impressed. This latest product, which supposedly re-embraces their older style, is not particularly an earth-shaking, mind-blowing piece of work that is going to plummet me to the depths of terrible, terrible sorrow. However, though the initial listens have been spaced out over the period of a few weeks, The Light at the End of the World is actually beginning to flicker brighter bit by brighter bit. Facts are still essentially the same for My Dying Bride in the late 90s. Aaron still does not have a voice that is going to really catapult the band. He is reasonably effective when hitting the harsh moments, but his mumbling monotonous clean voice is more comical than depressing. But what does help this band is just a workmanship reliance on slow, melodic and morose guitar lines throughout the entire album. Somewhere around "The Fever Sea" it occured to me that I was enjoying the album for the most part. Never you mind the plodding nature of this beast. It is nothing more than a solid release that does lack the general likeable nature of 34.788% but makes up for it by being a good gloomy album that will occasionally be pulled out for a listen.
Review by John Chedsey
Review date: 11/1999