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My Dying Bride - "The Barghest O' Whitby" (CD/EP)

My Dying Bride - "The Barghest O' Whitby" CD/EP cover image

"The Barghest O' Whitby" track listing:

1. The Barghest O' Whitby (27:05)

Reviewed by on November 29, 2011

"While it’s not a masterpiece on the scale of 'Turn Loose The Swans' or 'The Cry Of Mankind,' it’s easily one of the best compositions the band has written in ages."

There’s lengthy My Dying Bride songs, and then there’s “The Barghest O' Whitby.” A song so massive that it takes up a full EP, “The Barghest O’ Whitby” is the most arduous task the band has taken on in their two decade career. Almost 30 minutes long, the track feels like a snapshot from every era of the band. From the harsh beginnings to the uncertain middle to the return to glory in the final minutes, “The Barghest O’ Whitby” is the byproduct of years of being one of the premier doom metal bands in existence. While it’s not a masterpiece on the scale of “Turn Loose The Swans” or “The Cry Of Mankind,” it’s easily one of the best compositions the band has written in ages.

“The Barghest O’ Whitby” is a return to the sadistic nature the band had in them on the first few records. The last five minutes bursts into ‘90s-styled death metal, and vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe unleashes his uneven growls. While they sound more in-key and vicious than his laughable attempt on “A Chapter in Loathing,” from their last album “For Lies I Sire,” it’s still his weakest vocal range. Though fitting in with the sinister mood, Stainthrope sounds strained and weak with his growling.

His clean stuff, on the other hand, retains its gothic charm. His lyrics continue to be overly-dramatic mush (“Are those tiny rivers/Down your rosy cheeks?”), but his passionate vocals make them suitable to the tune. This EP is also the return of drummer Shaun Taylor-Steels, who was last seen on their modern classic “Songs of Darkness, Words of Light.” Steels was a great sticks-man for the band, and his inspired work drives the rest of the band to put in similar performances.

There’s too much to the song to break it down into specific high points, but there’s something for fans of any of My Dying Bride’s past albums. The violin is a constant influence on the song’s progression, and the guitars are tightly interwoven throughout every riff and lead. For a song that gets close to half-an-hour, it’s very accessible to those with the patience for such an endeavor. However, there are a few odd transitions in the middle of the song, and the song also ends very abruptly.

“The Barghest O’ Whitby” is far from anything My Dying Bride has done in a while. It still has the gothic doom aura surrounding it, but there’s a bitter anger surging through a good portion of the EP. It’s as if the band is revisiting their chaotic past to satisfy unfinished urges. For long-time fans who may have been wondering what the next step for My Dying Bride would be, “The Barghest O’ Whitby” is a bold statement that says the band has a lot more creative drive left in them.

Highs: One of the best compositions the band has written in over a decade, a return to a harsher style of playing, makes 27 minutes fly by with little effort

Lows: Aaron Stainthorpe's awful growls, the abrupt transition halfway through, song ends with a whimper

Bottom line: Consisting of one massive jam, “The Barghest O' Whitby” proves that My Dying Bride is still pushing themselves into uncharted creative territory.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 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)