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My Dying Bride - "Songs of Darkness, Words of Light" (CD)

My Dying Bride - "Songs of Darkness, Words of Light" CD cover image

"Songs of Darkness, Words of Light" track listing:

1. The Wreckage of My Flesh
2. The Scarlet Garden
3. Catherine Blake
4. My Wine in Silence
5. The Prize of Beauty
6. Blue Lotus
7. And My Fury Stands Ready
8. A Doomed Lover

Reviewed by on August 21, 2006

"The darkest, most wretchedly beautiful musical statement any band has managed to craft in a recording studio for ages"

For well over a decade, the name My Dying Bride has been synonymous with doom metal. Many would argue that these Britons spearheaded the crafting of the very genre, and with albums such as 1993's "Turn Loose the Swans", I certainly wouldn't disagree.

My Dying Bride have created a form of art with their music. Granted, an art not everyone can grasp, but one which is no less than captivating for those who are willing to let its obscure tentacles grab and take hold of you. I would go as far as to argue that this band is darker, more brutal and sinister than 90% of all death/black metal bands out there. My Dying Bride will not deliver its darkness with a sledgehammer to the skull. No, they will do it with ominously brooding soundscapes, sometimes painfully slow and intricate melodies, with torturing dives into the darkest corners of the human mind where themes, words and music are ingeniously entwined into a suffocating blur, beautiful in all its sickness and despair.

The mood simply has to be right for this listening experience. Grab your headset, go for a midnight stroll around some desolate countryside and we may begin...

From the start, I will say that "Songs of Darkness..." is one of the crowning achievements of My Dying Bride's career, alongside "Turn Loose the Swans." This is the absolute pinnacle of human misery - a tortured journey into the suffering of man, and the darkest, most wretchedly beautiful musical statement any band has managed to craft in a recording studio for ages. It will take time to grasp. You may not understand it from the first listen and you shouldn't. Your patience is key here and it will be worthwhile.

"The Wreckage of my Flesh" sets the stage with a disturbingly monotonous main riff and Aaron Stainthorpe's drained voice. A condemned being waiting at the gallows... A coming evil he cannot fight...brooding...foreboding. All so eloquently sinister in performance. "Catherine Blake", nothing less than a masterpiece. The track is very reminiscent of older My Dying Bride - much like the entire album - with slow waves of crushing sorrow and anguish executed in the most simplistic and effective of ways. As with past releases, the band refuse to stun anyone with flashy shows of technicality, but rather keep things simple. Every word has a purpose, every note has a meaning.

"My Wine in Silence" is a song most suitable for exactly what the title implies - a beautiful reflection, with tragedy in sight. The gathering despair turns to hatred with "The Prize of Beauty." Aaron's monstrous shrieks (more vicious in delivery than on any past albums) put to shame many a growler out there and you can sense a fury about to be unleashed. And so it does. "And My Fury Stands Ready" buries the lover, ends the longing, rampaging all sympathy.

A haunting, almost narrative-like voice accompanies "The Blue Lotus", a perilous journey into the forbidden, the deceiving, for which a deadly price is payed. The interplay between music and Aaron's lyrics is so alive on this album, the effect is chilling. Shaun Steels' drumming is excellent throughout, as is Ade's and Hamish's guitar work. Very few keyboards are used throughout "Songs of Darkness, Words of Light." "A Doomed Lover" finally ends the journey fittingly with some very personal reflections, perhaps giving us a deeper insight into these musicians' way of life than what would appear.

The artwork of the album is also magnificent, though it is the music that does all the bleak painting here. 8 songs...all of darkness, very few words of light. Experience this.

Highs: This entire bleak art

Lows: It will take time...

Bottom line: Doom Metal at its finest

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)