Sunday Old School: My Dying Bride
To paraphrase an old joke, there was once a band with a sound so loud you could hear them over three fields; Sheffield, Huddersfield and Wakefield. They were formed in another area of Yorkshire named Bradford in 1990 and would become one of the most influential groups in death/doom metal, and they are called, My Dying Bride. The genesis of the band began when guitarist Andrew Craighan and drummer Rick Miah left their previous band, Abiosis and joined forces with singer Aaron Stainthorpe and another guitar player named Calvin Robertshaw. After six months of writing material, they recorded their first demo, "Towards the Sinister," which led them to release their first official single, "God Is Alone" through a French label named, Listenable. The single was limited to one thousand copies, which sold out extremely quickly, and the buzz around the band saw them begin a love affair with Peaceville Records, a company which had previously specialised in anarcho punk bands but had now decided to expand their horizons by signing metal acts such as Paradise Lost, Darkthrone, Anathema and of course, My Dying Bride, who have been loyal to the label ever since signing.
After recruiting a new member in bassist, Adrian Jackson, the band released their first EP, "Symphonaire Infernus et Spera Empyrium" in March of 1992, and two months later released their debut full length, "As the Flower Withers." The album saw the band team with artist Dave McKean, known for his work on the legendary Batman graphic novel, "Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Ground," and most recently for his work on the Richard Dawkins book, "The Magic of Reality," but more importantly, it saw the band begin to break through into the modern metal consciousness, allowing them to perform in mainland Europe, as well as embarking on a big tour in their native, Great Britain. The band then decided to broaden their sound by hiring Martin Powell as their keyboardist and violinist. Powell made his recording debut with the band on their next EP, "The Thrash of Naked Limbs," which was released in February 1993. While filming a video for the title track, Miah had a nasty fall which forced the group to cancel their tour in support of the record. Instead, the band got to work on their second album, "Turn Loose the Swans," which was met with a very strong response, with Rolling Stone describing it as, "Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ for the ears." They continued to tour Britain and Europe and released another EP named, "I Am the Bloody Earth" in January the next year.
In 1995, My Dying Bride released one of their most critically acclaimed works to date, "The Angel and the Dark River," which was much more doom metal orientated than their previous works and saw them performing at festivals for the first time, including the legendary Dynamo Festival in 1995, which saw them sharing the stage with the likes of Machine Head, Type O Negative and Biohazard, amongst many others. The interest in the band whipped up by the album saw them releasing their first compilation record, "Trinity," which focused on their EPs, before capping off a successful year by supporting British heavy metal icons, Iron Maiden. They followed, "The Angel…" in 1996 with, "Like Gods of the Sun," which like its predecessor featured clean vocals only, and was centred around the violin work of Martin Powell. The album contained some standout tracks such as, "For You" and "A Kiss To Remember," but was met with mixed reviews from the press. It would also prove to be a turning point in their history, as both Powell and Miah decided to leave the group, with Miah being replaced by Bill Law, while the violin position was left vacant.
Experimentation was next on the agenda for My Dying Bride, when they released the album, "34.788%...Complete" in 1998. The album saw the group toy with electronic music, as a number of metal musicians tried at the time, a direction which many fans were unhappy with. The album would also be the last to feature Robertshaw as a full time member, as he left the band while recording their next album, "The Light at the End of the World," on which he can only be heard on the song, "Sear Me III." "The Light at the End of the World," proved to be another big step for the band, though this time in a more positive direction, with some of their best reviews since, "The Angel and the Dark River" and fans welcoming the return of Stainthorpe’s growling vocals. Despite the warm response, the group placed themselves on a short hiatus, releasing only two compilation albums, "Meisterwerk 1" and "Meisterwerk 2."
When they finally returned in 2001, now with new guitarist, Hamish Glencross, they continued to receive praise, when they released, "The Dreadful Hours," which contained a remake of the song, "Return of the Beautiful," from, "As the Flower Withers." The album coincided with Peaceville’s decision to re-release all the previous My Dying Bride albums, most of which contained bonus material. After, "Songs of Darkness, Words of Light" in 2004, the band decided to increase their live schedule, which helped immensely in garnering the band new fans and perhaps factored into their next release, a box set entitled, "Anti-Diluvian Chronicles." Their next full length release was to come in 2006 when the band released, "A Line of Deathless Kings," which was once again met with glowing reviews, though shortly afterwards the band were hit with several departures, perhaps most notable that of bass player Adrian Jackson, leading the group to hire Lena Abé on bass and Dan Mullins on drums.
The band hadn’t seen the last of lineup changes however. Shortly before working on their tenth album, "For Lies I Sire," keyboardist Sarah Stanton left the band after becoming pregnant and was replaced by, Katie Stone, who in turn was replaced after the record’s release by Shaun MacGowan. "For Lies I Sire" marked the return of violin to the band’s sound, and was described by some, including Andrew Craighan, as their most depressing work to date. The album was followed by a mix of releases, including the EP, "Bring Me Victory," notable for featuring a doom metal cover of the traditional classic, "Scarborough Fair," a compilation album entitled, "Evinta," and a single, "The Barghest O' Whitby," which contains only one track, though it clocks in at twenty seven minutes long. The band are now back in full swing, having been confirmed as one of the headliners of this year’s Damnation Festival, along with Electric Wizard, the band are also releasing their first studio album for three years, "A Map of All Our Failures," which will hit the shelves on October 15th in Europe, with a North American release of October 16th to follow. Fans of the group will be hoping for yet another master work of miserable metal music from the band, and with a catalogue as strong as My Dying Bride’s, it would be a surprise if they didn’t deliver yet again.
My Dying Bride - "Your River"
My Dying Bride - "The Cry of Mankind"
My Dying Bride - "For You"
My Dying Bride - "Under Your Wings and Into Your Arms"
My Dying Bride - "The Prize Of Beauty"
My Dying Bride - "Scarborough Fair"
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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