Songs Of Darkness, Words Of Light
Review by Allan on March 25, 2004.
Eight studio album isn't something easily accomplished. Neither is having a number of your albums revered as classics, gaining enough recognition to be cited as one of the staples of UK doom metal, and still releasing albums that can compete with or surpass the albums a band was founded on. My Dying Bride has been with us for around thirteen years now, and has released genre milestones such as "Turn Lose The Swans" and "The Angel & The Dark River," as well as 2001's mammoth seventy plus minute album, "The Dreadful Hours," which seemed to gain nearly as much acclaim as the band's other landmark albums. "Songs of Darkness, Words of Light," the bands eighth studio album, continues to take tread forward with the power that My Dying Bride found with their last release.
As the title aptly describes, "Songs of Darkness" is one of the darkest albums My Dying Bride has ever had the pleasure of releasing. This brings forth both qualities and complications. Atmospherically, "Songs of Darkness" excels far beyond the reaches of most modern doom metal bands. The opening song, 'The Wreckage of My Flesh,' sets a dark, ubiquitous tone for the entire album - an album that is immersed in gloomy imagery and eerie movements. The use of organ on the opening song is enough to cause even the most jovial of people try to find somewhere safe to hide.
Stainethrope's gruesome, raspy growls – almost as miserable sounding as his clean vocals – are anything but uplifting. His clean vocals are unquestionably as well done as they have ever been, if not the best performance yet – frighteningly vulnerable, if not at times beautiful, acting as the only light in the music. 'My Wine In Silence' is perhaps one of the most beautiful songs My Dying Bride has ever crafted that didn't rely so much on instrumental moments. 'The Blue Lotus' reveals a chorus where Stainethorpe sings a stunning melody with such pureness that it's as if the rest of the band has taken a backseat for a moment.
That isn't to say that the rest of the band is of any less importance. My Dying Bride is as rhythmically precise and as thunderous as always. Were it not for the sorrowful, melancholy guitar lines that wrap themselves around a listener's conscience, there simply wouldn't be a My Dying Bride. There is plenty of said dismalness to go around, both in lead guitar and rhythm. The excellent production lends a hand to making the rhythm guitars swell to mammoth proportions and envelope the listener. That said, "Songs of Darkness" isn't everything it could be.
Those hoping for an album to surpass "The Dreadful Hours" probably won't get it. This isn't My Dying Bride's shining effort. There are things here that were simply done better in the past. But we can't really expect a band to get better with each release. Nevertheless, "Songs of Darkness" is easily one of My Dying Bride's best efforts and fits comfortably into their repertoire.
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 8.3 out of 10