As the world goes to hell in a handbasket, perhaps the last thing we need is to pile on more misery. And yet, while never encountering such extraordinarily trying times as these, Northern doom merchants My Dying Bride have sustained a three decades long career extracting exquisite artistry from melancholy themes. Blending heavy, satisfying riffs with heartfelt, baritone vocals and fluttering folk melodies flowing like crimson streams from fresh-cut wrists, there is something soothingly cathartic about these depressive strains that act as a balm to the weary soul.
The band have recently overcome the shock of departing members, as well as personal tragedy and adversity to expand the gloomy horizons of their distinctive sound with their 14th record to date. Redolent with heartache and despair, 'The Ghost of Orion' follows a particularly difficult period for vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe after his daughter was diagnosed with cancer and tempers anguish with that delicate, wistful hopefulness that characterises any prolonged period of suffering. Fortunately, the little girl has now recovered, but the effect of his trauma adds a stirring poignancy to each sombre note.
Waves of bleak yet achingly beautiful melody lap the solitary sands of opening track 'Your Broken Shore', until the riffs and heavy chords crash in like breakers to add a harsher sense of gravity. 'To Outlive the Gods' is weighty with throbbing, fiery chords and strings, while 'Tired of Tears' trembles between gentle charm and full-on drama. 'The Solace' brings in almost unbearably high-pitched tuning and vocals that could shatter glass to amp up the pathos and 'The Long Black Land' has an intensely emotional, funereal feel. 'The Ghost of Orion' with its endless strumming is a tender meditation on the long black tunnel of grief while 'The Old Earth' rides the crest of the wave with some climactic beats. My Dying Bride come full circle with 'Your Woven Shore', its choral epiphanies and creaking cellos hinting at healing and restoration. Utilising Dying’s unique fusion of violins, keyboards, and the signature bittersweet vocals that range from dulcet to rage-filled and vitriolic, the usual compelling air of dread that permeates each album here has an energised spirit behind it that is almost uplifting.
Recently, we’ve all been forced to become isolated shut-ins, barred from the world’s myriad pleasures, but music like this is there to remind us that there is hope beyond this current lonely stretch. My Dying Bride represent doom at its purging best and remind us there’s often comfort to be found in darkness.
'The Ghost of Orion' is out now on Nuclear Blast