Overall Score: 9/10 Songwriting: 8/10 Production: 9/10 Misery Index: 9/10 Pros: Pretty much every second from start to finish... Cons: The length... it cries out to be a full-length release
Doom overlords My Dying Bride have long been known for their sombre, dark and melancholic melodies of shame and desire, and with the release of EP ‘The Manuscript’, this is a reputation they are unlikely to lose.
Themes such as religion, fantasy, desire and loss have always been a staple of the foundations that are rooted in all of their work. From 1992’s debut ‘As the Flower Withers’ to the incredible ‘The Light at the End of the World’ (1999) and through the heavier, more refined releases such as ‘A Line of Deathless Kings’ (2006) and ‘For Lies I Sire’ (2009) (which incidentally brought about the return of violins as opposed to synthesised classical influences), the band have repeatedly demonstrated a brilliant craftsmanship of merging the light and dark of that around us through music.
The guitar melodies in heavily dropped tunings wrestle seamlessly with the epic atmosphere seeping from the other members and Aaron Stainthorpe’s distinctive pained and hugely emotive lyrics aptly and poignantly backdrop the sound-scape creating a submersive experience which few bands can manage.
Some may argue that bands like My Dying Bride are long re-inventing the wheel with their bleak and sombre approach, but there is little else I, for one, feel they should be doing. Despite this, it would be hugely unfair to suggest that they have become stagnant. If anything, it is the ability to re-invent a craft you helped galvanise that allows bands such as this (and in a similar respect Paradise Lost, Napalm Death and Slayer) to continually put out, quite simply, brilliant music.
Of course, that isn’t to suggest that the music they write is necessarily popular with all music lovers and metalheads, but I am a firm believer that there is something for everyone in their history, and with ‘The Manuscript’, they continue where 2012’s ‘A Map of All Our Failures’ left off. In fact, 3 of the 4 songs on this EP were actually written at much the same time and almost certainly the same mindset as the tracks on their previous release.
Produced by long-time collaborator Rob ‘Mags’ Magoolagan at his Futureworks Studios in Manchester, the opening title track is My Dying Bride through and through; slow, sweeping melodies of woe which instantly captivate and immerse the listener whilst ‘Var Gud Over Er’ starts in a vein similar to ‘The Fever Sea’ and it’s hard not to picture your own interpretation and vision of a dry and broken landscape as the journey continues.
Whilst it seems to be becoming less unusual for bands to release songs close to and over the 10 minute mark, only a number can confidentially pull the task off with consistency. Any band can repeat a bridge 40 times more than are needed to boost the song length, but only the pioneers and torch-bearers manage it without rehashing the unnecessary.
‘A Pale Shroud of Longing’ is pure misery in audial form, and it’s absolutely beautiful. Haunting passages go hand in hand with the slow-burning agony of the drop-tuned doom and again, as has been demonstrated so many times before, it brings about an immersion in which it is difficult not to picture blackened monasteries on rain-drenched mountain tops shadowing bellowing waves and rock-faces.
Closing track ‘Only Tears to Replace Her With’ is the shortest track on the album, and in many ways, serves as an apt closing chapter to the half hour journey before it. Every essence of the band, their imagery and their ideals are summed up in a song beneath the 5 minute mark, which itself is a disappointment only in that you simply wished it continued; in fact, the only criticism I’d have about this release is that it’s not an album, so the journey ends well before you want it to.
That said, it’s so good that I have a good mind to get this EP for my Dad; I’m confident that it demonstrates and encompasses all the great components of a band I have long held in high regard in a manner that is not only accessible, but woefully beautiful and emotive without being overtly miserable.
Another fine return to form for a thoroughly incredible band.
1. ‘The Manuscript’ (6:25 / My Dying Bride)
2. ‘Var Gud Over Er’ (8:49 / My Dying Bride)
3. ‘A Pale Shroud of Longing’ (5:00 / My Dying Bride)
4. ‘Only Tears to Replace Her With’ (4:20 / My Dying Bride)
[ Length : 27:23 ]