Release Date: May 14, 2013
Yorkshire quintet My Dying Bride have been a staple in most Doomheads’ diets for 23 years now (probably longer than some of them have been on this planet for), and while going a little off the deep end with their more experimental 34.788%…Complete, they have not only been one of the seminal acts of Doom Metal, but also one of the most consistent.
The Manuscript is their third E.P. to date, and a dark voyage spanning over 27 minutes of supreme doom in the unmistakable My Dying Bride style of heaviness mixed with dark tales of foreboding.
This four-song E.P. picks up where 2012’s A Map of All Our Failures leaves off. The title track features some of the most beautifully executed violin work by Shaun MacGowan. This track is a nice melodic slow dirge, with signature vocals from Aaron Stainhope making this a spectacular opening track. On the other two tracks, “Var Gud Over Er” and “A Pale Shroud of Longing”, there’s a sort of effortless professionalism that pervades the dark melodies pouring out of these guitars and violins, one that suggests that even if these blokes (and lass) don’t quite have another “Your Shameful Heaven” or “The Crown of Sympathy” up their sleeves, they’re not going to make something they can’t stand behind.
The final track, “Only Tears to Replace With Her” reveal endless growing pain. The instruments all drop out in the beginning so that Aaron Stainthorpe can deliver a keenly emotive couplet — “Salvation dropped me from her dying arms. Endless, the skies are dark. This world is nothing without her as it limps from beauties and sun”. It demonstrates a key feature or liability of My Dying Bride’s bold approach: If you’re going to let poetry be the focal point of your metal band’s album, that poetry better be pretty good, and no doubt Aaron nails it completely.
Two things that have always been mainstays in the Brits’ sound have been the eerie, at times almost theatrical atmosphere and the unique vocals of Aaron Stainthorpe, who knows perfectly how to instill anguish and despair into his performances. Dan Mullins on drums knows his job very well, and hats off to him for his drum patterns being very complex while maintaining the slow and dark character of the songs. Bassist Lena Abé remains the unsung poet of soul-consuming rhythmic bleakness. A special mention to Andrew Craighan and Hamish Glencross on guitars for dreary harmonized guitar leads.
The most interesting feature of this E.P. are the ideas and sounds that keep their music feeling like a breath of fresh air on such a stagnant scene where many bands can end up sounding the same. They stick to what has always worked for My Dying Bride and what has made them special over the years. Without a doubt The Manuscript features four monstrous tracks of brilliantly crafted metal that only My Dying Bride can do, with swathes of doom-laden melancholy, harmonic beauty and thundering death metal all combined in their trademark sound. Four tales of tragedy, loss and bitter vengeance greet the listener with an added assault on the emotions too, leaving the soul grey and limp. There is beauty here, but it’s carrying a dark blade.