Welcome to the first edition of another one of my ever so bright and TOTALLY original ideas, Discography Dialogue. As I said, for these I will be giving my quick thoughts on each full-length album of a band of my choosing. This post may be a bit lengthy, so you may need a good attention span, but either way, I hope you enjoy it whether you get all the way through it or not… Just kidding, I don’t really fucking care.
Anyway, here we go. First band on the list, the almighty My Dying Bride!
One of, if not my favorite band in the entire Doom Metal genre and one of my favorite bands period, hailing from Halifax, England, My Dying Bride have without a doubt carved their legacy in stone within the Metal scene, having and big hand in the advent of the now vast and broad (and slightly oversaturated) sub-genre of Death Doom alongside fellow countrymen Paradise Lost, Anathema and Sweden’s Katatonia. In a span of well over 20 years now and in the process of a very significant evolution in sound, these blokes have secured their stripes as true innovators within one of Metal’s most compelling and darkest sub-genres. In a genre already ruled by the likes of Candlemass and Pentagram, these UK fellows along with the aforementioned others brought it to new levels of extreme, injecting it with the also at the time, booming genre of Death Metal and creating a marriage of styles that would very rarely be duplicated to perfection in coming decades.
Well I think that’s enough background on these titans, let’s talk about the albums that made this band what they are.
As the Flower Withers
My Dying Bride’s discography starts off with this gem. 1992’s As the Flower Withers is, while not one of their most popular albums (maybe to more old school or underground fans, but more open-minded ones, not so much), is without a doubt, the band’s rawest, harshest and unrelenting release of the bunch. Offering an 8-track, 44 minute flurry of murky, grimy old school Death Metal laced with slow, thick, trudging riffs and drumming patterns that would become a key component in the Doom Metal genre for years to come. Completing the package is the harsh, brooding vocal styling that Aaron brings to the table, as well as a little innovation, adding the element of violins and horns into the mix for a melodic finishing touch that fits their style like a glove. The addition of those instruments are one of the key element in creating the romantically melancholic yet devastatingly heavy sound that the band would become notorious for, which they would capitalize on on coming albums. This element doesn’t really kick in until the 12-minute track The Return of the Beautiful, but when it does, after being assaulted with the murky, grimy straight up Death Doom of the previous 5 songs, it’s a pleasant surprise and wowing moment at first listen. This album again while not their most popular, is the perfect launching pad to for the innovation and creativity that My Dying Bride would use to carve their name into the forefront of the minds of countless fans when they think of the words “Death Doom”. Great album and highly recommended for starting fans of this sub-genre!
Turn Loose the Swans
In October 1993, only a year and a half after their monstrous debut, came the band’s sophomore effort, Turn Loose the Swans, and not only did they waste little time in putting out a second record, they also wasted little time in further accentuating their unique and melodic style of Gothic Death Doom Metal, making the element of violins and keyboards more prominent in their sound. Also with this album, came the introduction of clean and spoken vocals by Aaron. While many may have expected another dark, murky straight up Death Doom album, this is what they were met with, I can only imagine to either their pleasant surprise, or socking dismay. This album still had the murky Death Metal element combined with the slow, thick, dragging Doom style that introduced My Dying Bride to the fold, just with a more creative kick. In a time where this style of Doom as well as other unique styles of Metal sub-genres was still budding, this album was without a doubt one of those albums that set the table for future acts to duplicate (or at least try to, many to no avail). This is a great album and a clear sigh of the shape of Doom to come. Again, maybe not the most popular of the bunch, other than for old school fans, but still a fantastic one nonetheless.
The Angel and the Dark River
On to 1995. The Death Doom genre was still on the rise, Paradise Lost and Anathema were still doing their part in the pioneering of this exiting new sub-genre with the albums The Silent Enigma and Draconian Times and it had already been about 2 and a half years since Turn Loose the Swans. It was time for My Dying Bride unleash their next effort onto the Extreme Metal world, and what they released was perhaps one of the best albums the genre would ever see. The Angel an the Dark River is not only what I consider the band’s best album of their earlier stages, but also one of my all-time favorite albums! Not only is this their most creative early outputs, but it’s their most epic sounding and gripping. For this album they not only accentuate their romantic, Gothy style of Doom Metal even further, but they also up the ante production wise as well, giving it a very ethereal and spellbinding atmosphere that just demands your attention. This becomes clear from the very beginning with the searing intro to The Cry of Mankind. The combined elements of the insanely beautiful intro riff that becomes immersed by thick, heavy chords and a beautiful sounding keyboard a few seconds later, then completed by Aarons, sorta creepy but very gripping spoken word passage and continues with tracks like From Darkest Skies & A Sea to Suffer in, continuing this formula and using it to it’s full potential. This album is an artistic masterpiece and keeps you immersed all the way until the amazing closer The Sexuality of Bereavement. This album is a perfect mix of violin and keyboard-laden melancholic Gothic Doom and thick, murky, heavy Death Metal-injected Doom, all laced with a spellbinding atmosphere that takes you on a fucking journey from start to finish. I love this album to death and I can’t recommend it enough to Doom fans of any stature!
Like Gods of the Sun
On to the fourth effort in My Dying Bride’s main discography. They continue the pattern of releasing albums in May and October, releasing this one on October 7th of 1996, just a year and a half after the incredible last album. For this one, however, the band’s sound takes a different route. This is where many consider, myself included, the start of their departure from the more epic, dark and spellbinding Death Doom style to a more melodic Gothic Doom Metal sound. The music on this album is still dark and murky and not too high on the production wavelength, but the difference in style is still noticeable and to some, a turnoff. I don’t consider this album My Dying Bride’s best album either but I don’t think it’s their worst. There are some sweet riffs throughout it and a pretty good atmosphere to it and Aaron is still doing some of his best vocal work, but there is a significant difference in structure and even in song lengths. The songs are shorter than usual and more mid-paced and not as Doomy, which is fine. To me, this is still a pretty damn good album, but I do understand why it may be a disappointment to some, especially those who were fans of the old Death Doom style an ESPECIALLY after the masterpiece that preceded it. Some may call this a sellout, as i’m sure they would will all of their albums from here on out and as they would with many other bands who also go this route. Paradise Lost, Katatonia & Anathema included. To me it just boils down to creativity. My Dying Bride are a creative bunch and don’t want to get too complacent doing just one style, and I respect that. In my opinion it’s worked for them. As they say, you can’t please everybody, nor should you try to. This is still a very good album and nowhere near their worst work (that one is next) and the band’s creativity and uniqueness is one of the reasons i’m a fan of theirs to this day. I still recommend this one to those with open minds and still give it a listen every now and again. Not my personal favorite, but not bad at all.
Now this is the album I would personally consider My Dying Bride’s worst. This is where the experimentation with the band’s sound went a little awry. For this album, My Dying Bride continue their transition into the Melodic Doom side of the stylistic spectrum but this time adding even more elements that would turn out to be unnecessary. For this experimental endeavor of an album, we see the addition of an Industrial and Noise influence to the fold. Now, this would be fine if done carefully but it just doesn’t mesh well with the band’s core style. This is the same experimental flop that Danzig fell victim to 2 years prior with Danzig 5: Blackacidevil. It’s an attempt to cash in on the budding mid-90s Industrial craze that Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson were at the forefront of that blew up in their faces and proved that they just aren’t the type of band built for that style, and if they were, maybe they should have just tried it under a different name. This is a damper in the legacy of My Dying Bride and a stain on their discography. A small stain, yes, but a stain nonetheless. I’m 100% fine with a band experimenting. I truly am. Some bands pull it off nicely. Full of Hell did it with their collaborations with Merzbow & The Body, Code Orange are doing it right now with their latest album, but sometimes it just doesn’t work and both Danzig & My Dying Bride unfortunately learned it the hard way. Long story short, crap album, flop experiment and thank fuck it ended here. Leave Industrial Rock/Metal to the professionals, like Youth Code!
The Light at the End of the World
Moving on to the following year, 1999. The band is facing backlash from the previous output and they realized the experimenting was a failure. The album they were to follow it up with brought about some mystery. Will it be another experimental flop, or something else? What we got however, was what I consider the first of the 3 best albums of their Melodic Gothic Doom Metal era. While I wouldn’t call this a “return to form” for them, because it is but it isn’t. It’s the same style of Melodic Gothic Doom as presented on Like Gods of the Sun, but much heavier and with cleaner production. Those 2 minor changes, however make it much better than that album, in my opinion. This is another different approach to the My Dying Bride style while not doing anything too different at the same time. It’s a weird formula but it works for them. The Light at the End of the World makes up for what Like Gods to the Sun lacks. While still exhibiting the same style, it takes a page out of The Angel and the Dark River‘s book and gives it a more ethereal and spellbinding atmosphere that brings you in. While not quite as good as The Angel and the Dark River, this is still a great album and one of My Dying Bride’s best, and without a fucking doubt an improvement from the previous abomination. Can’t recommend this one enough!
The Dreadful Hours
As the 2000s approached and it came time for a new My Dying Bride outing, many were wondering what’s to come. With November 2001 came The Dreadful Hours. Nothing much to say about this album that wasn’t already said about The Light at the End of the World; stylistically and production wise, nothing much changes, but this is still another superb effort put out by the band. The second of the three heaviest and best albums of their modern era. Very heavy, very melodic and as crushing and doomy and as romantically creepy as ever. Perhaps not one of their most recognized but still very much worth a listen. Nothing much else to add.
Songs of Darkness, Words of Light
Now on to my absolute favorite modern My Dying Bride album. The second album in their history that I can truly call as masterpiece. The last 2 albums were great and the first 2 of the only 3 later albums of theirs that are on par with the early ones. How would they follow those 2 up, one may ask? Well, as 2004 rolled around, out came what I consider the peak of My Dying Bride’s Melodic Gothic Doom Metal era. The modern version of The Angel and the Dark River, if you ask me. Songs of Darkness, Words of Light is an ugly heavy, extremely dark, atmospheric and captivating ride of an album that even to this day, every time I listen to it, I can’t help but listen all the way the fuck through. Say what you will about My Dying Bride’s modern incarnation, if you’re not a fan, you’ll dismiss it, which is fine, but if you are, maybe you’ll disagree and say one of the last 2 were the better ones and I won’t argue with that. To me, however, this is when they perfected the Melodic Goth Doom style. From the immediate outburst of slow, menacing riffage and just as menacing growls of the intro to The Wreckage of My Flesh to the creepy, poetic mumbling and crushing drums of The Blue Lotus to the atmospheric, relentless heaviness of And My Fury Stands Ready to the crushing melancholy of closer A Doomed Lover, this album is a well structured and quintessential example of what Death Metal-laced Gothic Doom should fucking sound like. What completes this package is Aarons unique brand of creepy yet stunning clean vocals and vicious and harrowing harsh growls and shrieks that can only be recognized as him. Just like every other MDB album, Aaron is the key to making this style work to it’s full potential. If the vocals were done by say, Nick Holmes or Jonas Renske, as great as they both are, I just don’t think the result would be the same. Aaron Stainthorpe’s eerily unique style is one of the main factors that contribute to this album’s greatness, as well as several other MDB efforts. Another thing is the production. The production style of this album, particularly on the drums, is what also makes this album so captivating and attention-grabbing. The drums are viciously heavy and almost sludgey on this album and thus one of my favorite parts of it. All around this is an incredible output and one of the many reasons My Dying Bride are one of a fucking kind within the Doom Metal sub-genre. I can’t recommend this album enough and it will be one of my all-time favorites until i’m in the grave (or in an urn on my family’s fireplace. I don’t want that, but whatever). If you disagree with me, fine, but to me, this is the second highest point in My Dying Bride’s existence and the one that had the biggest impact on me.
A Line of Deathless Kings
Moving on to 2006. A new MDB album was on the horizon. How would the band go on to follow up the masterful predecessor of the upcoming one? The answer was the very interesting A Line of Deathless Kings. Upon first listen of this album, a few questions were already answered. Is it as good as Songs of Darkness, Words of Light? No. Is is bad? Certainly not. In fact, for a while, I considered this album my favorite by My Dying Bride. My mind has changed on that over time, obviously, but my opinion on the album itself has not. This album is a very different album by MDB and a step in a different direction. For this album, the Doom element is almost completely shed away and they take up a more Melodic Gothic Metal sound with a hint of Death Metal, similar to the likes of say, Ghost Brigade or later Paradise Lost. Is that a bad thing? No. They do this style much better than those 2 other bands, in my opinion. I still think this is a great album, despite the new direction. In fact, I see it as more of an evolution of the band. This album, as evident in most of the song titles, goes for an even more ‘romantic’ feel lyrically. It may come off as a bit sappy and ‘The Cure-ish’, but the music itself isn’t bad at all. Like I said, just like they did Death Doom and Gothic Doom better than most, they do Gothic Metal better than most as well. I would listen to this album and the ones that follow way before I ever listen to boring, drippy, generic as shit acts in the same genre like Sirenia or Epica or even, dare I say… Cradle of Filth (sorry middle school goths and 15 year old me) or some bullshit like that. I try to say this in the most non-ass kissiest way possible. I just say how I feel. This isn’t the best album or incarnation of My Dying Bride, but it is still a pretty damn good one, and I know the changes in style can be attributed to line-up changes and new members with different ideas, which I could have talked about for each of these albums, but choose not to because I don’t want to go in to too much detail with these. I just want to give my quick thoughts, which as I’ve said many times already, is what my blog is all about. Anyway, overall, great album and another successful experiment in style by the band. Recommended to those with open minds.
For Lies I Sire
On to 2009. As the final March of the 2000s came along, so did the final My Dying Bride album of the decade. For Lies I Sire follows up A Line of Deathless Kings with pretty much the same Gothic Metal style, but with a little more Doom sprinkled in. I’ll be honest here and say, while this isn’t a bad album, I consider this the weakest album in My Dying Bride’s modern era. I put it on par with Like Gods of the Sun, good, but could have been better. There are a couple of really good stand out tracks like Echoes from a Hollow Soul & A Chapter in Loathing. Other than that, however, it’s just the same thing we got with the previous album but to a lesser degree. Not much else to say, in all honesty. Again, not a bad album, but far from their best. Aside from the stand out songs, nothing excites me all that much about it. It’s a slight damper in the bands history, but a salvageable one nonetheless. Not neary as bad as 34.788%… Complete, that I can say for sure. I still recommend it if you want to give it a try. It’s kind of a ‘take it or leave it’ kind of album in my opinion. Again, good, but not their best work.
A Map of All Our Failures
As the 2000s came to a close, it wouldn’t be until late 2012 we would get something new from the British masters of melancholy. Finally, as October came along, so did A Map of All Our Failures. This album, in all honesty, is a big step up from the previous one! This album is a return to form of sorts and brings back a lot of element that voided the band for the last couple albums. We see the return of the Doom element, which is great, not that it ever really disappeared, it just wasn’t as prominent on the last few albums, but it’s back in a heavier capacity here and very well done. The creepiness is also turned up a little on this one. Especially on the opener Kneel till’ Doomsday. Even the cover art is creepier than usual. No complaints from me though. This album is, while still not one of the band’s best outputs, definitely a step up from For Lies I Sire. Still a very good outing and another example of the consistency this band possesses. Even if they put out a sub-par release every now and then, you shouldn’t give up on them right away. Unless it’s a super fucking dramatic change in style. Anyway, MDB are able to pull yet another melancholically heavy and crushingly romantic effort out of their hat to satisfy loyal fans the world over. Aaron is as vocally creepy but ethereal as ever, the riff work is as superb as ever and the overall product is as well done as the band is known for. Again, I still think their best days are behind them at this point, but they are still able to conjure up some pretty damn superb outings, even if they slip up here and there. I definitely recommend this one. Especially to newer fans. This would be a good album to start with.
Feel the Misery
On to the final offering on the list.Released just under a year and a half ago, in September of 2015, the latest My Dying Bride album was unleashed upon us. Titled Feel the Misery, which at first, kind of worried me. That’s a pretty simplistic title for a band of MDB’s stature. However, that’s all it turned out to be; just a simplistic title. This is still a great album. Is it on the level of The Angel and the Dark River or Songs of Darkness, Words of Light? No, but this is a unique and captivating release all on it’s own. It’s in the same style you would expect at this point. The same Melodic Gothic Doom that the band is known for at it’s core, but it has a unique atmosphere and certain elements to it that I can’t say are present on the previous newer works. Two examples are the standout tracks A Thorn of Wisdom & I Celebrate Your Skin. Both songs done almost entirely with a keyboard and drums. Neither track is anything too out of the ordinary, but they have this uniquely ethereal atmosphere to them that only a band like MDB can pull off. That atmosphere can be felt throughout the rest of the album as well. This is yet another dramatic, miserable, creepy, dark and tragic work of Doom Metal art that again reminds you that this band still has some left in the tank and will leave you curious for the next one. What will come next, who knows, but this is an album that had me engaged from the first listen and does have me curious for the next one… despite my first time hearing it being in garbage ass Florida. Eh, whatever. Either way, this a a fantastic outing and if the band were to break up tomorrow, this would be a good one to leave off on. Highly recommended for gloomy Doom fans everywhere!
And with that so concludes this retrospective. This took me long enough to finish but it was well worth it. I love discussing music and the music of my favorite bands & artists and My Dying Bride are, always were and probably always will be one of my absolute favorites of any genre. They took Doom Metal to more extreme and greater heights and are true pioneers of a sub-genre that would produce generations of bands and fans alike. Often duplicated but never imitated, My Dying Bride are Doom legends and say what you will about what they would later become, unlike their pioneering peers Paradise Lost, Anathema & Katatonia, who all went on to go down totally different paths, they remain loyal to the genre they helped create with their unique style of crushingly heavy, eerily creepy and tragically romantic Gothic Doom, Death, whatever Metal, even through their stylistic evolution, which is pretty damn impressive. I love these guys and hopefully they don’t call it quits anytime soon, but even if they do, what we have by them thus far is enough to keep me satisfied for life.
That’s it for now. I will be doing more of these in the future. I have others planned. Gonna take some time, but they’ll come, so don’t sweat your dicks off.
Until next time.