|Doom Metal, Gothic Metal
October 16th, 2012
Release length: 1:03:46
The crisp audio quality does give way to a black and empty sound, one that works well to capture the early Doom Metal style. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite deliver enough of an impact from the instruments. The guitars have a nice mixture of cleaner riffs with some heavier distortions that are tuned a little lower. These are played up a little more with the bass guitar, but that’s not too deep either, though still effective in regards to the atmosphere. Thankfully, the drums are a bit stronger. The cymbals are captured perfectly with a louder volume that does cascade the tight, sharpened snares, but moreso the subtle click of the bass kicks. There’s also the distinctive keyboards that benefit the creepy vibe on much of the material. Naturally, the vocals are podded up a lot more in the mix, but it’s a bit necessary given the cleaner singing approach, as well as the various narrative passages that appear here and there. There are some growls that show up once in a while, and they are a little intimidating, though not always necessary.
While the audio doesn’t have much of a bite, it sounds fantastic in all the other right ways, leading to some eerie offerings that speak volumes of the band’s growth, and the early Doom Metal style. This becomes apparent right from the start with “Kneel ’till Doomsday.” The mid-tempo pace finds the music a bit lighter than later slower tracks, though the drumming often does add a bit more edge to things. What really stands out is the infectious chorus with a powerful, enthused vocal performance against a truly catchy rhythm. About four minutes in, you are greeted with a brief faster passage with harsher vocals, but, while not bad and fits conceptually, it ends up unwelcome as the solid unsetteling vocals, atmosphere, and even keyboards outside it make this offering stand out the most. “The Poorest Waltz” is also well worth the experience. A somewhat slower offering, it carries that early Doom Metal sound well, though more like a memorial than something eerie and unsetteling. The music never gets too heavy, but the vocals will have you dying to sing along, giving things a depressing touch that is simply moving in a laid back fashion.
But, from this point on, things gradually die down, and feed on the darker side of the band’s creativity. “A Map of All Our Failures” starts out a little on the softer side, moving at a slower pace with more of an intimate atmosphere with a narration laid over the music, shifting into singing when the pace picks up, and the music grows richer. This goes back and forth until a little less than half way when the guitars find a heavier distortion, though still creeping along as if marching to it’s own untimely demise. “Hail Odysseus” carries that heavier approach well. The distortion remains about the same, adding in some strong growls and even whispers, or echoed shouting to give a slight appearance of gang chants with a slam breakdown established more as a ritualistic performance. While intense, it’s the lighter sections that really grab your intrigue thanks to some tighter music and rather epic leads that will have you banging your head along while transitioning in and out of the more aggressive areas superbly. There’s also the closing track, “Abandoned as Christ,” which is an interesting one. It starts with a long introduction that takes its time to grow, using about two minutes to go from a single guitar to the full band performance. But, even then, it feels like it’s still setting things up, especially when the music starts fading past the three minute mark, and a stronger, heavier performance creeps in at about the same speed, but carrying a richer heaviness complete with vocal harmonizations between the actual clean singing. While not the most memorable of the eight right at the start, it’s the latter half that really makes a valuable closing impression on the listener.
My Dying Bride present an album mixed with a nod to the early days of Doom Metal, and the band’s modern Gothic touch that makes many moments on this recording a bit unsetteling. While the whole effort may not live up to Andrew’s hype, there certainly are some songs that come pretty close, if not do reach that summarization. There isn’t really anything on here not worth experiencing or coming back to in the near or distant future, and fans simply will not be let down. A Map of All Our Failures is a superb example of how haunting My Dying Bride can be without trying to crush your spirits through blunt and aggressive passages, a rarity within the Metal field today, especially their given style. If you haven’t heard the group before, or this is shaping up to be your first entry, it’s a nice starting point, and one you’ll be invested with for quite some time.
01. Kneel ’till Doomsday – 7:52
02. The Poorest Waltz – 5:08
03. A Tapestry Scorned – 8:00
04. Like a Perpetual Funeral – 8:32
05. A Map of All Our Failures – 7:52
06. Hail Odysseys – 8:54
07. Within the Presence of Absence – 8:50
08. Abandoned as Christ – 8:38
|Overall Score: 8/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Peaceville Records via Fresno Media.