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Feel The Misery

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Feel The Misery
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Type: Full-Length
Release Date: September 18th, 2015
Genre: Doom
1. And My Father Left Forever
2. To Shiver In Empty Halls
3. A Cold New Curse
5. A Thorn Of Wisdom
6. I Celebrate Your Skin
7. I Almost Loved You
8. Within A Sleeping Forest


Review by Jon on April 22, 2020.

I was beyond ecstatic to hear that Calvin Robertshaw was re-joining the Bride, being that he was responsible for some amazing guitar work on the band's seminal early records. However, upon hearing that Andrew Craighan was writing the majority of the music, I was a bit concerned. Don't get me wrong: he does superb work and is responsible for the lion's share of the band's greatest riffs. My concern stemmed from that fact that the last LP that was written solely by Andy was The Light at the End of the World, which unfortunately did not inspire much of an emotional response from me. Superficially, it had all of the elements that Turn Loose the Swans had (minus the violin), but it just did not resonate with me to the same degree and proved somewhat of a disappointment. That being said, I understand that he wrote the majority of The Dreadful Hours as well, which ranks among the band's greatest works. Yet my concern remained, as I so desperately want to love everything that my favorite band releases. And I wondered...can Andy write almost the entire record himself and reach the greatness the band is capable of?

As is often the case with me, I was not entirely thrilled upon my first listen. I often have preconceived notions of how I want the record to sound, and if it does not have the same qualities I desire from a previous album it can take some time for me to adjust. But slowly and surely, the excellence of this album began to emerge. I began to realize that there were full songs that I truly responded to emotionally. These songs, largely belonging to the second half of the record, each possess the key elements that lead to what I yearn to feel....melancholy, anger, beauty, power, quietude. And quite strangely, I felt hopeful as well. A strange paradox: the band’s best records have always made me feel good, despite their miserable content! Let's begin with 'A Thorn of Wisdom'. Upon the first listen, I was quite shocked. The reverb drenched keyboards immediately brought to mind Depeche Mode in one of their more ambient moments. The song slowly builds into an atmospheric, beautiful gothic voyage. It is quite simple, but the vocal melodies are heart wrenching and emotional. Aaron sings with a tone that is a bit more straightforward on this song (as he does on 'I Almost Loved You'). Perhaps the best way to describe this is that there is less 'whimpering' in the vocals, very similar to the singing on 'Thy Raven Wings'. The song gradually builds to some captivating electric guitar melodies cascading over the gothic choir that appears just before, preceded by a rumbling bass line. It's simply a gorgeous song, while being a bit unique for the band (you can't quite compare it to anything else in their back catalogue).

The following trio of 'I Celebrate Your Skin', 'I Almost Loved You', and 'Within a Sleeping Forest' are astounding. Along with 'A Thorn of Wisdom', this is one of the strongest 4 song passages in the band's history. This section of the record moves back and forth between the highly atmospheric and utterly beautiful side of the band, and the crushing doom death that highlighted records such as The Dreadful Hours and Turn Loose the Swans (while retaining its own identity - it is NOT a carbon copy of their earlier works). 'I Celebrate Your Skin' opens with a plodding drum beat that continues throughout the song as uniquely different guitar riffs appear over it. A riff not too far removed from Turn Loose the Swans enters with an effective clean vocal line, to be followed by a wondrous twin guitar harmony passage that recalls the bands early work (think the early EP's here), replete with dominating growls. The lyrics that Aaron bellows during this section help to create a classic MDB atmosphere. When the opening riff returns the violin appears to augment it, and you get that magical feeling that only the band that created Swans could bring into the world. We then return to the isolated drums, soon to be joined by a haunting ambient section with choirs and church bells. The latter part of the song features a very strong doom riff (full guitar chords are bled into the song for the first time), and a vocal melody that lures you into its web. 'I Almost Loved You' is starkly gorgeous. I've heard some compare this neoclassical piece to 'For My Fallen Angel', but it's actually much closer in line with the neoclassical tracks from Turn Loose the Swans (due to the darkness and melancholy it personifies). It's simply haunting and achingly beautiful, and the violin/keyboard work is searing.

Rising out of the ashes of tranquility heard on this neoclassical masterwork, we have the album's closer: 'Within a Sleeping Forest'. This song manages to encompass almost every great quality of the band - it's a very diverse and crushing piece of art. We're treated to haunting guitar harmonies and weeping violin sections, cryptic doom death sections with hellish growls recalling the bands early style once again, and even a section that sounds like an old Cathedral riff amongst it all. The lyrics here are amongst the best on the album, Aaron spinning the tale as the weeper (clean vocals) and the demon (growls). Each riff is stunning, and it's amazing how the band reaches into their past and blends it with the present to create yet another masterpiece to close the record out. The growls on this record are fucking powerful – Aaron really lays into it and gives us some of that unique/avant-garde atmosphere that drew many of us to the band in the early years.

As for the rest of the record: the first four songs are very good as well. The title track has a crushing, palm-muted chorus, which is followed by a timeless mid-section with mournful, layered violins and memorable vocal melodies. The twin gut punch of 'To Shiver in Empty Halls' and 'A Cold New Curse' introduces the growls to the record, and my lord is it effective. The former immediately reminds of the band’s early works again with a cryptic riff and demonic roars, to be followed by several medium tempo melodic riffs as the growls continue. The song features a mid-section that reminds of Iron Maiden (until the death doom and vicious growls return to assault you, giving way to an otherworldly clean guitar melody and sinister whispers until the songs closing). 'A Cold New Curse' volleys back and forth between lush, funereal atmospherics and heavy as hell riffing complemented by the growls. The 3 sections in this track featuring growling are utterly stunning, wicked, and once again entirely convincing. We can also look at the unique verses and vocal melodies on the albums’ opening track as something new for the band.

Mr. Craighan: Not only did you quell my fears, but this is the band's most consistent and convincing record since The Dreadful Hours. It is easily among their best records, which is saying a lot for the band that released classics such as The Angel and the Dark River. The kings of doom have returned to their full glory, and I can't wait to hear what they have in store for us with Robertshaw back in the band!

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

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Review by Wiley on September 14, 2015.

They’re back and in fine form. If you aren’t familiar with MDB, you’re quite behind but I’ll give you a quick catch up. Peaceville back in the late 80’s/early 90’s released three bands albums that became the basis for “doom” as we know it. One of those albums was MDB’s Turn Loose The Swans. Back then, MDB provided doom with a more death metal etiquette - down tuned and shot through with low growls over distraught melodies and somber violins and keyboards. Not long there after MDB expanded their melancholy to include goth textures (Angel And The Dark River), and even later dabbling in unexpected synthetic stylings. Finally they tied it all together in the last fifteen years with a truly textured palette of misery and melancholy. Now that’s the vague run down, lets not linger….

Marking a return of their original guitarist Calvin Robertshaw, Feel The Misery pries the plod of past albums back with contrasts of rhythmic attacks. One of the things I’ve always admired about MDB is their ability to bring about rhythm and maintain the down tempo, making material that is exquisitely metal, but also emotionally vibrant with melody. Just as soon as you think you’ve grabbed the tone of the album, the music has a brief excursion to another texture almost seamlessly.

Speaking of textures and melodies, this album definitely provides. The violins weep when necessary, the keys play backup where they should. While less of a key component as in their early albums, they provide the additives to the MDB formula that culminate in familiar drifts and builds. Is it a formula??? Well, yes and no. MDB came up with this recipe in their beginnings - to use these ingredients to bolster their style. Having refined and experimented over the course of their career, they know their palette, and they know how to wield it for a tasteful brew.

The vocals are a style that is ultimately their own. From frail, pained singing to miserable spoken word and whispers contrasted with the most agonizing growls, and never is their a moment you can doubt the sincerity. The mood cannot be denied as the vocals worm their way into your head.

It’s very hard to review appropriately an album from one of the founders of a genre unless it is legacy destroying. There is so much to address - historically and presently. So I’ve tried to mediate between alienating those who aren’t as familiar with MDB, and addressing the concerns of die hard fans. For the fans, picture this album as a collage of Turn Loose The Swans, Angel And The Dark River, Light At The End Of The World, with several nods to rarities like I Am The Bloody Earth. So what I am saying is, you won’t be disappointed, it’s classic MDB. For the newcomers, imagine a bleak landscape of doom that is not constrained by melody, drone, or gothic stylings, but using all these and more to make a dynamic and ultimately uncompromising death doom album. For lovers of the miserable…… Do yourself a favor, get this……..

Rating: 8 out of 10

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