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Review: My Dying Bride – A Map Of All Our Failures (Album)

England’s very own doom metal masterminds have returned, with yet more anthems for the anguished – see what HTF thought inside…

Band: My Dying Bride
Release: A Map of All Our Failures (Album)
Release Date: Out Now

Church bells ring. A downtuned guitar drawls alongside it, another one whining in at a slightly higher pitch. Drums beat like a slowing heartbeat, and someone begins to sing like a dying priest murmuring one last sonorous hymn. Is it a funeral? No – it’s My Dying Bride‘s eleventh studio album.

This is doom metal, of course, the genre that revelled in misery before it was cool, and My Dying Bride are without a doubt one of its finest stalwarts. This band has been around since 1990, which means they’ve probably outlasted at least five million pop acts in those 22 years. How do you keep misery fresh for all that time? Well… like this.

‘Kneel Til Doomsday’ is the funereal opener, Aaron Stainthorpe‘s mournful voice dominates aggressively low-tuned guitar and bass. This is music to sit down and fade out to, poetic lyrics lacing the sludgy riffs and chords in ‘The Poorest Waltz’ and ‘A Tapestry Scorned’. It’s not as directly relatable as most emotional music but it doesn’t need to be, vocals and instruments come together in such a coherently disharmonious way that chills and drags you under at the same time.

Inside the slowly churning waves of audio sorrow, there’s a lot of skill and musical complexity that merges together in a very practised way to elevate the album beyond grinding melancholia, and there’s a lot of these vital elements obvious in title track ‘Map of All Our Failures’ and the following ‘Hail Odysseus’. There are no complaints to make about this album, it’s everything you’d expect from a band that’s been the forerunner of their genre, seminal and stunning, and it continues to define doom metal with this intensely delivered album.

The final track ‘Abandoned as Christ’ packs some incredibly haunting instrumentals into the last eight minutes of the album, again delivering that ominous feeling as all different parts of the band come together as one, and even as Aaron‘s brilliant vocals kick in, you’ll find yourself still entranced by the wailing guitars. Everything about it is soaked through with all the slow, sludgy riffs the band is famed for, and while they’ve put some distance between the clean and harsh vocals, it still has a lot in the way of heavy to offer if that’s the part of the band you love. This is a release that comes highly recommended and much suited to these grey Autumn evenings.

9/10

Reviewer: Laurence Stark

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