My Dying Bride - The Angel and the Dark River
Line up for this album :
Aaron Stainthorpe: Vocals
Andrew Craighan: Guitar
Calvin Robertshaw: Guitar
Ade Jackson: Bass
Rick Miah: Drums
Martin Powell: Violin, Keyboard
Original version released in : 1995
This is My Dying Bride's third full length, however I managed to purchase the bonus version (released in 2003). Thus I will review the bonus tracks as well. This album is generally assumed to be one of the best doom metal albums, so I decided to get it. This is also their first album without growling (except for the bonus tracks) and Powell's violin is most prominent on this album.
I commence :
The Cry of Mankind:
The introducing song and quite appropriately for such an epic album, the longest track, clocking in at 12 minutes. It starts with some kind of keyboard intro (at least that's what I think, I still haven't been able to define it with certainty) This little intro is played almost throughout the whole song, but strangely enough it doesn't become annoying after twelve minutes. Stepwise the other instruments start to join the play and I can actually hear the bass, which is always nice. The drummer is obviously building something that promises to become a great climax. And we don't get disappointed.
Although Martin Powell confines himself to the keyboard on this track, he makes up for it grandly by playing a sublime piano part on top of the almost equally good guitar violence.The terrible destiny of mankind just drips from this music. After two minutes Aaron finally starts singing, although singing might not be the correct term for his vocals, despair might be a better description. The lyrics are pretty dark and pessimistic, but not your average linkin park teenager pseudo-poetry. After a few lines that wonderful piano piece appears again and at this moment it almost feels like Satan is dragging you down into a black hell, very impressive. The Singer is moaning like he's suffered for an eternity. After 7 minutes the instruments fade away, and only the introducing keyboard piece remains.
They try to create the feeling that you're standing in a misty swamp, where you can hear Viking horns in the distance. Sometimes this part of the song can be impressive, but it is certainly too long. Creating an atmosphere : ok. Creating an atmosphere for 4 minutes : no. Nevertheless the song is excellent, one of the best on the album. 5/5
From Darkest Skies :
This song is introduced by the bass guitar. It's simple, but not bad at all. After a few seconds the violin starts to play and I still believe the violin sounds the divinest of all instruments. Sighing, the singer begins his story, this song is most probably about a lost love. The guitar starts to play and the combination of the godly violin and the heavily distorted guitar sounds truly astonishing. Very harmonious, but very sad. A church organ is used at moments, which sounds great. It some points the song gets a bit aggressive, but slows down again in the end. Great song, but very depressing. 4.5/5
The first song that isn't slowly built : all instruments play from the beginning. Another great conspiracy between the instruments. Once again the violin sounds heavenly and love is sung about. Some great riffs are played and the drummer does an amazing job, considering the speed of this song (pretty slooow). Around 5:30 the bass takes over and Aaron groans his sorrows in a very deep voice. The song ends with some excellent guitar-and violin work.
A Sea to Suffer in:
This track starts with only piano, after that the other instruments join in, imitating the piano piece, which gives an awesome contrast. When Martin Powell has had the time to switch instruments, he starts playing the best violin part so far. After 2 minutes it all slows down again, indicating the beginning of the verse. During the verse the violin only plays two long notes, which has a very moaning effect. After the verse there's this little guitar solo that sounds excellent. A kind of Prechorus follows and it sounds very heavy and it's truly one of the best I've heard. Great riffs, Awesome drums (I love this guy's drum fills) and at the end of prechorus the violin accentuates the dark faith of the lyrics. Brilliant. Then there's another part of the song (verse, chorus? I don't know) where the violin seems to Imitate the howling of a wolf, followed by a kind of violin solo. A true pleasure for the ears. First verse gets repeated and the song ends abruptly. It's not really a joyful song, but it's magnificent, probably the best song on the album. 5/5
Two Winters Only:
Nice assembly of the first acoustic guitars on the album, bass and drums do a tremendous job supporting them. The vocalist sounds very sad again and sings about his favourite subject. After circa 4 minutes the distortion kicks in and after a minute or so they return to an acoustic state and they end the song back in distortion. This song might be a tad too long, but this does not prevent it from getting this rating. 5/5
Your Shameful Heaven:
Violin introduces the song. Just as one would be utterly affected, the other instruments start playing aggressively. Contrary to the previous songs this one actually possesses speed and aggression. Which is a nice variation. Terrific song, not much more to say. 5/5
[Bonus tracks]: (only on 2003 version)
The Sexuality of Bereavement:
At first I confused the introductive violin playing of this song with the one of 'Your Shameful Heaven'. But seeing that was a good one, I have no complaints. Guitars sounds very heavy in this song and this is the first song that is growled. Very cool growl, reminds me of Opeth. Once again this is just a wonderful song. I'll quote one cool phrase from this one :'Desire and wine go well" 5/5
Your River ( Live at Dynamo '95) :
Now there are 3 tracks recorded live at Dynamo '95.
When Aaron introduces the band his voice cracks despairingly when he speaks the words 'My Dying Bride'. Just a fun detail. Your River : I've never heard the original, but this it sure sounds great live. 5/5.
A Sea To suffer in ( Live at Dynamo '95) :
Live version of the best song on the original album. Still an amazing song, the only flaw is that the violin is bit covered up by the rest of the bands, you can't hear it really well.
But still good. 5/5
The Forever People ( Live at Dynamo '95) :
This is announced with the words "This is your last chance to get it fuck
ing moving." spoken with that delightful British accent. Against all Doom Metal stereotypes this song is full of energy and speed. Very decent song. 4/5
Overall, this album is very depressing, but also very good.
The songs might sometimes be a bit too long and maybe a solo here and there wouldn't harm. But the lyrics were great and the violin and keyboard were an excellent sauce on an already great dish.
If you're a Doom Metal fan : 5/5
Generally speaking : 4.5/5