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My Dying Bride - "Songs of Darkness, Words of Light"
Peaceville 2004

So here it is, the 8th studio product from Britain's masters of doom and gloom. And as far as I'm concerned, if this is as good as they could do, they'd be better off just re-releasing any of their previous seven albums.

I used to REALLY REALLY worship My Dying Bride. Their music, no matter which period of their creation it hailed from, was always top of the line. The individual tracks were compact, the albums were wholesome, consuming experiences. And no matter how innovative their approach would get, no matter how much experimeting the works involved, there was always a meaning and a presence that spoke of whole lives, invested into every note. Truly, throughout their career, this band has gone beyond doom metal - its starting point - and beyond every definition. They became one of the pillars of modern metal, a synonim for rock-solid quality and stunning inventiveness, coupled with so much emotion. It's a shame (although a rather natural occurence in music, I must sadly add) that this last album is such a disgrace. Actually, hell, "the Brides" did keep it together for a long time...

"Songs of Darkness, Words of Light" is a slopy jumble of styles, all strewn about without any feeling whatsoever. The tracks lack heads, tails or any semblance of cohesion at all. The same goes for the whole album. And in all this confusion, all but the slightest bits of what I came to know and worship as "My Dying Bride" is lost. Especially the emotion. I don't want to sound like some metal - conservative, I like innovation and change, but not when the entire album is a collage of forcefull innovation, change and style-switching.

This album tries to fuse ambiental passages, black metal, death metal, gothic rock and sundry into every single track. It sounds as if you'd be listening to Lake of Tears, Mortiis, Morbid Angel and HIM on four stereos in the same room...and some other bands on some other stereos in a two room apartment.

The low and slow riffs, so typical in the "better days" are less common, but when they do appear, they simply aren't backed by the rest of the band - especially the drums, thus sounding merely as ambiental clichs or My Dying Bride immitations at best. Other guitarwork includes lots of clean, slow melodic passages wich are nice, really. There are also some flat sounding death metal-ish riffs, some doom riffing and slow harmonies, that are so unimpressive and repetitive that they're actually boring. The passages are almost non - existent or appear in the shape of half - a - second - of - silence. With so many different musical approaches and no passages, the music is just too fragmented to make any sense to me. However, the soloing is actually rather good. It's a shame thought, that it drowns in the overall sound due to a rather slopy production.

The drumming is flat, far in the background and lacks energy so badly, that it makes many slow passages sound just plain boring and the fast passages sound flat and incomplete. Maybe some of it is due to the production, which also seems to seriously underestimate the importance of a good drum sound.

As for the vocals, there are many, ranging from death metal grunts, black metal ragings and various clean vocalisings. Some are quite good, especially the spoken vocals, which remain one of the band's strong points. However, there's just too many quasi blackmetal vocals that sound really forced and are some of the worst black metal vocals I have ever heard. Also, the clean singing tends to get too high and whiny for Aaron, whose trademark was an unnaturally low, deep voice and supreme deathmetal grunts (which are still damn good, but hardly ever appear). It's okay to try everything, I guess, I just hope that from now on, the band sticks to the vocal bits they're good at.

The rest is just plain unimpressive. I'm sad to say so, since I really like My Dying Bride - their every record up 'till now - and I tried damn hard to find things about this one that would make me like it. I guess the overall impression is that the album is underproduced and sloppy, at times sounding like a low - budget My Dying Bride rip off and at times like a forced attempt to get the attention of the black, death and gothic metal crowd at once.

For all the My Dying Bride fans...you won't like this one. But you should get it anyway. You owe it to the band that has given you 7 magnificent experiences before. And will hopefully give us more after this ...ummm... slight slip up. And for the rest, this just isn't the album with which one would start discovering the amazing opus of My Dying Bride.

Author:   Jaa

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