My Dying Bride
The Manuscript EP

Oh, good old My Dying Bride, we go back a long way. You commiserated with me during my depressing teen years and helped me feel something whenever life would turn mundane. I’ll admit to skipping over your then-infamous (not so much now) 34.788%… Complete only to discover it’s quirky gloom a few years later, and we were back on good terms. The Dreadful Hours was a high point in our relationship and you continued to move me in some way on every album that followed (not counting Evinta) up until last year’s painfully drab A Map of All Our Failures. A few forced revisits did yield some value, but it just wasn’t enough. If I had only known you were saving the best material from that session for this new EP!

Sentimental hogwash aside, this is the Bride back to doing what they do best, something they mostly failed to do on their previous outing (save for “The Poorest Waltz”). Despite having been largely written and recorded at the same time as A Map…, both the production and songwriting on The Manuscript are much stronger, making these songs some of their most powerful since The Dreadful Hours.

The title track gets right down to business (no filler intros here) with regally mournful guitar and violin melodies that immediately recall their genre-defining mid-90’s output. Aaron’s clean vocals have always been a sticking point for some, but they sound better than ever here, especially during the moments of more pronounced harmonization. The lone acoustic guitars that close the song are splendidly haunting, much like the final moments of Benediction’s “Dark is the Season” (one of the greatest death metal songs ever written, by the way) — not a bad song to emulate, if that was their intent. Even though “Vår Gud Över Er” is the one track not recorded during the A Map… sessions, its production is identical to the rest of this EP, but it is a slight deviation style-wise as it harkens back to the death/doom of their classic Turn Loose the Swans album. Heavy, majestic riffs coupled with Aaron’s signature growls brings a smile to my face and a tear to my eye. Unfortunately, the gutturals are confined to this song, but the rest have their own redeeming qualities. “A Pale Shroud of Longing” makes use of the chunky, meaty riffs from Like Gods of the Sun while perfectly-titled closer, “Only Tears to Replace Her With,” cuts deep and leaves you bleeding with some of the most fragile, moving songwriting and lyrics the band has ever penned.

Just when I thought they might be more dead than dying, My Dying Bride have delivered one of the biggest surprises of the year (next to Tate-less Queensryche’s return to relevance) and reclaimed the gothic doom crown (of sympathy). It’s nice to see you back in prime form, old friend.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Adam Palm
July 16th, 2013

Comments

  1. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    bad Turn Loose The Swans pun at the end.


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