My Dying Bride Is:
On their eighth studio album, MDB released a record that sounds as fresh and inventive as their debut. Songs of Darkness, Words of Light is the summation of everything MDB has created this far and then some. It’s darker, gloomier, and heavier than nearly anything else they’ve released. Considering that they’ve made quite a name for themselves over the years, I’m shocked that I seldom hear them mentioned in the metal community.
This album begins with TheWreckage of My Flesh
, and might I say, it’s one of the best album openers I’ve ever heard. The first time I heard this song it was stuck in my head for a week. Imagine that, Doom Metal can be catchy, what a concept! The opening growls on this track sound like demons are escaping from the depths of your speakers. Soon enough, Aaron Stainthorpe’s somber, melancholic voice kicks in alongside a tribal drum pattern and a droning guitar rhythm. He is a key part of what makes this band so unique; I have never heard anyone sing quite like him. His voice is so crisp that is sends a cold tingle down your spine. The spoken word bits are very strange, however they seem to work well here. His lyrics tell the tale of everything that is dark and sinister about life and love.
“With utter loathing and scorn.
I was somehow born.
Strewn in black decay.
None shall I obey.
The wreckage of my flesh.
The nakedness of my death.”
While most of this album is slow, brooding, and treacherous, there are several upbeat moments, such as The Scarlet Garden
. However, the up-tempo sections don’t make this album the masterpiece that it is, rather it’s MDB’s ability to make beautifully intricate music at such low speeds. The Scarlet Garden
is still a great song. The strings and keyboards add so much texture and emotion here. I typically refrain from listening to bands with excessive keyboard use, but unlike the rest of them, MDB utilizes the keys appropriately so that they never feel unnecessary. Also, the keys a foreground instrument; they are there to create ambiance and texture. Each time I listen to this track I am amazed at how sincerely they convey emotion through their music.
A Doomed Lover
is a perfect closer for this album. It starts out with some incredibly distorted droning chords alongside Aaron’s menacing tone of voice. He utilizes the best aspects of his vocal capabilities here, from his strenuous sigh to his malevolent spoken word voice. Finally the guitars carry out the song in a masterful duo that is both depressing and uplifting.
Never before has a doom band captivated me with such a song talent for songwriting. Each track is carefully crafted to perfection, and the album as a whole flows beautifully. The production here is crystal clear. Each instrument sounds like it’s being played right in front of you. There are no guitar virtuoso moments, no drum solos, and no meedely-meedely keyboard pieces, however each musician is on top of their game. Nothing stands out, but nothing is left behind. I’m particularly impressed by Shaun Steels. His drum patterns are seemingly simple although very creative and never repetitive. He knows when to shine and when to play a simple 4/4 pattern. That can be said for all of the musicians here. Instead of fighting with each other, they are very conscious of that the other is doing which allows for these songs to sound so well composed.
The only thing keeping this record from getting a higher rating is a few parts in the middle of the album that are a tad drawn out (My Whine in Silence
). Other than that this album is highly overlooked, and a classic of the genre. MDB has pioneered a genre that they are the masters of in their own right. They convey incredible emotion and musicianship while never sounding cheesy or obnoxious.
“Closer I creep, toward my prize
The Blue Lotus lies before me
Her lips are full, red as blood
Moist as they invite me
Stoop I did to kiss those lips
In the glowing room
When suddenly, she did awake,
Her eyes filled with doom
From silks, her hands were round my neck
Escape there was no hope”
-The Blue Lotus