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Album Review: MY DYING BRIDE A Mortal Binding

8 Reviewer

Well, I hope you weren't looking for someone pretending to be objective here. My Dying Bride is my favorite doom band of all time (Evoken is a very close second, of course), so I come into this album with a set of loaded dice in the act's favor. However, I am honest enough to know the band has material that stands apart from the rest of a catalog as the very best: many of the early demos, Turn Loose the Swans, The Dreadful Hours, A Map of All Our Failures, and Feed the Misery. This makes the band's task on any future release to aspire to that level of greatness.

You'll notice that I included a couple recent albums in the pantheon of the band's masterworks. And it's true, while the band has never made a bad album (shut up, Like Gods of the Sun is fine and 34.788%… Complete just has some weird stuff on it), the band has experienced a recent flowering of excellence that shows it's hit a stride in doing what they do best. Must be something about British GenXers, as the band's countrymen in Paradise Lost and Cradle of Filth have managed similar feats over the last decade.

On the band's latest album, A Mortal Binding, My Dying Bride presents a consistent and respectable display of gothic melancholy and death/doom prowess. The album opens with "Her Dominion," which fits squarely within the band's recent output, but still presents moments that recall the unhinged and menacing quality of As the Flower Withers and demos like Towards the Sinister. Meanwhile, "Thornwyck Hymn" brings us forward with Aaron Stainthorpe's clean vocals and a more cohesive and smooth stream of sadness and bitter grief.

For long-time fans of the band, there are moments of satisfying misery to be found throughout, but the real talismans of torment come with "Unthroned Creed" and "The Apocalyptist." The former track is an infectious and atmospheric song that hooks the listener with the refrain of "and I won't help you any more" and keeps them with the stellar guitar lines that accompany it. The later is an absolute riff-fest, with pinch harmonics that rips through the listener's souls and a long and winding sonic narrative that keep you guessing and loving every answer. These two tracks are the ones that sit most comfortably alongside songs like "The Songless Bird," "Kneel till Doomsday," and "A Cruel Taste of Winter."

But don't get the wrong idea from my praising of those two songs, as they are but peaks upon an already towering landscape that contains other compelling tracks like "A Starving Heart" and the contemplative closer, "Crushed Embers." It's on this last song that Shaun MacGowan's use of violin is perhaps the most devastating.

My Dying Bride is a death/doom institution at this point, one which we can rely on to produce that stellar mix of power and sadness we feel upon gazing their logo. The riffs, the rhythms, the vocals, and the production are all iconic, and every element of this mosaic is intact and vibrant as ever on A Mortal Binding. And by vibrant, I mean grey, ever greyer, and red as the freshest blood.

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