BARGAIN BIN REVIEWS – My Dying Bride’s “Like Gods of the Sun”

So I recently decided to fill in the gaps from My Dying Bride collection as I was missing everything between Turn Loose the Swans (1993) and A Line of Deathless Kings (2006). I have vague recollections of owning The Angel and the Dark River, Like Gods of the Sun and 34.788%, but being utterly disgusted with all three, selling them and giving up on the band until A Line of Deathless Kings a decade later. And while going back and the bands resurgence with 1999s The Light at the End of the World and the subsequent releases that saw the band re-inject some death metal into their once genre defining sound, the bands output from 1993-1996 remains some of the most divisive material in metal. And thanks to a blow out sale at I was able to pick up used copies all of the missing albums for about $20 total.

by Erik T

I’ll readily admit that in my old age, I’ve grown in my musical tastes, opened up my avenues of interest and revisited many CDS that in my youth, I turned my nose up at. Back in 1996 I was 22, full into Cradle of Filth and death metal and had already been thoroughly disappointed with 1993’s The Angel and the Dark River. So, 1996’s Like Gods of the Sun was strike two for My Dying Bride. 34.788% Complete was the back breaker and while I’ll almost certainly will never grow enough in my musical maturity to appreciate that album, I have at least come to terms with The Angel and the Dark River and Like Gods of the Sun. Both necessary albums in My Dying Bride’s discography.

My Dying Bride
Like Gods of the Sun
(Peaceville, 1996)

To encapsulate My Dying Bride‘s transition one must understand their history. In brief, they were part of England’s genre creating ‘trinity of doom’ that included My Dying Bride, Anathema and Paradise Lost. Strangely enough, perhaps, all three eventually mellowed out and became softer versions of their former selves — though MDB would be the only one to truly return to their original sound later in their career. And so when MDB delivered a (comparatively speaking) rather wimpy, gothic and fully clean vocalled effort in 1993’s The Angel and the Dark River, fans were taken aback but it was heralded as successful transitional album due to its beautifully melancholic hues and at the time, adventurous change.

And so the band followed that album up with essentially a very similar album. And frankly in retrospect, being released between The Angel and the Dark River and the universally panned 34.788% Complete, put Like Gods of the Sun in a sort of limbo and seemingly inconsequential in the bands storied legacy. It’s the album that My Dying Bride fans sort of forgot about after the train wreck of 34.788% Complete and the band’s subsequent, attention getting return to death metal roots with Light at the End of the World.

That’s part of the reason I wanted to do this as the BARGAIN BIN REVIEW, rather than any number of more obvious choices. The thing is, now I’m visiting the album almost 15 years later, older, wiser and the truth is that Like Gods of the Sun features some of My Dying Bride‘s, most despondent material they ever wrote. I still have issue with the rather thin, hollow guitar tone, but for the most part the songs are actually pretty strong and violinist Martin Powell saved his best performance for last as Like Gods of the Sun was his final appearance on a My Dying Bride album. And I have to admit, 15 years ago, I was never a fan of Aaron Stainthorpe’s clean vocals, but now as I have matured (somewhat) and opened up to vocals beyond Matti Karki and Dani Filth, as well as enjoyed all the band’s last three albums, they now settle much better with me. Hell, they even resonate with me. A little.

Like Gods… was different than the band’s earlier and later releases in that it featured ten relatively short songs. There were no sprawling 10 or 12 minute songs here. The longest song is only 7½ minutes and the shortest is 4½. So the band had the leeway to write a handful of the band’s flattest tracks in their career but at the same time, hide some truly magnificent tracks. They just happen to be mired within ten songs, not six 0r seven.

For me, albums are all about first impressions, and the opening title track to this album does not set the bar very high. 1996 or 2011, it’s still one of the weaker tracks the band has ever penned and for it to be the album’s opening title track, may have been the cause for my initial hate 15 years ago. The same can be said for the likes of “Grace Unhearing” and “It Will Come”. In fact, the album’s first third is actually pretty dull, lacking any real passion or despondency, feeling like leftover tracks from The Angel and the Dark River. That changes with the album’s longest track “A Kiss to Remember” where MDB delivers a rending mix of riffs and Powell’s emotionally draining violin. On a side note, possibly influenced by 1994’s Interview with a Vampire, the mid-song bridge is darkly sensual, if not even homoerotic. With “All Swept Away” the album delivers the requisite shorter, fiercer track and this one has a surprisingly decent mid-paced riff.

The album’s last third actually delivers what have become two of my favorite My Dying Bride songs, and two of their saddest; the light/dark dichotomy “For You”, which alternates between a stern chug and a delicately haunting woeful crawl and then there’s the tear inducing, closing weepfest that is “For My Fallen Angel” — which has no guitars or drums, just synths, the violin and Stainthorpe’s painful croons. Whether it’s old age or parenthood, or maybe I completely skipped this track the first time around, it gets me *right here* (cue Mike Myers impression) and is arguably the band’s most rending moment amid lots of rending moments.

To be honest, I’m not sure where I’d rank Like Gods of the Sun in My Dying Bride’s considerable discography. Its not their best or heaviest but it’s certainly not their worst. The handful of standout tracks makes it worth revisiting and rethinking alone. Ut certainly deserves a little more respect than simply being My Dying Bride’s forgotten album.



  1. Commented by: gordeth

    I actually like 34.788%…Complete quite a bit. You should give it another chance too. Just ignore “Heroin Chic” and it isn’t all that different from their other albums around that time.

  2. Commented by: Rane2k

    What gordeth said, 34% is quite an odd album, but I enjoy listening to it at work.

Leave a Reply

Privacy notice: When you submit a comment, your creditentials, message and IP address will be logged. A cookie will also be created on your browser with your chosen name and email, so that you do not need to type them again to post a new comment. All post and details will also go through an automatic spam check via Akismet's servers and need to be manually approved (so don't wonder about the delay). We purge our logs from your meta-data at frequent intervals.