Artist: My Dying Bride
Title: A Map Of All Our Failures
Genre: Doom/ Death Metal
Release Date: 15th October 2012
Label: Peaceville Records
When Mayans predicted all doom’s year for this world being this one, 2012, it’s possible that what they had in mind actually was a truly great year for Doom Metal. At least it’s the only interpretation of the prophecy I could believe in. We had PARADISE LOST with their grand comeback to Doom Metal sound with ‘Tragic Idol’, the legendary CANDLEMASS bringing out the superb ‘Psalms for the Dead’ (some would mention KATATONIA and ANATHEMA with their new albums released earlier this year also, but they’ve gone somewhere else style-wise). So with the bars having been raised very high, especially by what could be the final CANDLEMASS album, can MY DYING BRIDE, the other pioneering band of the genre, equal or even top that? After experimenting with ‘Evinta’ (2011), which they stress, was a special project to commemorate their 20th anniversary and ‘The Barghest O’ Whitby’ (2011) single filling the time after ‘For the Lies I Sire’ (2009) they are here with a new regular studio album (thus their eleventh) ‘A Map Of All Our Failures’.
I was fortunate to interview Aaron Stainthorpe last month and he told me that this album is a come-back to their signature sound, but the difference being is that it’s performed better, and with their song-writing skills having evolved, also more mature. And listening to the album, it certainly sounds as your typical MY DYING BRIDE album, but the experience they had with experimenting in my opinion does show in heightened sense of concentration on every single detail that is felt throughout, and room left for some new ideas still, just melted into an overall vision. Here comes to my mind a quote by Theodor W. Adorno: “Quality is decided by the depth at which the work incorporates the alternatives within itself, and so masters them.” And it must be said that this is exactly the case, everything the band has done comes up honed and even energised in a completely fresh way.
The songs on the album have a lot more depth and interesting facets than they had before, and though the album is heavy and dark, it doesn’t sink to bordering on melodrama, as it sometimes used to in their earlier works. There is a certain sense of the experiences sung about being more believable and less ethereal too. Of course, the offering of an escape trip has been what the band is priding itself on, but in my opinion the most successful way to do it is when the ethereal quality is rooted or grounded and possesses something of the flesh, that connection is at its most successful for me with this album – it brings a more acute feeling of immediacy and intensity that engages on all fronts. Lyrically, it’s more alive than ever, though some might miss Stainthorpe affecting the Byronic era of Romanticism as he did earlier in their career, bringing over the skills but forging his own style brings something more enervating into the lyrics, more sincerity I would say and less posturing. The pacing of both music and vocals (and a great touch with the spoken word which accentuates the given passages well) is done superbly and all these aspects together create an impression of the whole being not just regular, but best studio album of their career.
However, had they stayed with their opening song ‘Kneel Till Doomsday’ it wouldn’t have been the case for they played it far too safe there. ‘A Tapestry Scorned’ in contrast to that point contained superb sense of the dramatically given song, where the atmosphere is woven with unexpected turns, be it the diverse vocal performance or the keys poised over the organ sound with the inventiveness concerning the drums, and as such it puts the listener on the edge of the seat. ‘Like A Perpetual Funeral’ is truly beautiful, its sorrowfulness engulfing and engaging. The closing ‘Abandoned As Christ’ is bleaker than hell and I would say a perfect place to leave their listener at, contemplating their existential abyss in its agony, or if I also put it in other words, it’s like letting you breathe within a painting of Hieronymus Bosch or The Black Paintings of Goya.
01. Kneel till Doomsday
02. The Poorest Waltz
03. A Tapestry Scorned
04. Like A Perpetual Funeral
05. A Map of all our Failures
06. Hail Odysseus
07. Within The Presence of Absence
08. Abandoned As Christ
Aaron Stainthorpe – vocals
Andrew Craighan – guitar
Hamish Glencross – guitar
Lena Abé – bass
Shaun Macgowan – violin and keyboards
(Shaun “Winter” Taylor-Steels – drums)
http://www.mydyingbride.org/ / https://www.facebook.com/pages/My-Dying-Bride-Official-uk/282179138510618
Total: 9.75 / 10