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(56:11; Nuclear Blast)
To say this band have been through the wringer since their last album, 2015’s ‘Feel The Misery’, is something of an understatement. Not long after the release, vocalist and founder member Aaron Stainthorpe’s daughter, just five years old at the time, was diagnosed with cancer which of course caused Stainthorpe to place all band activities on hold while he and his family pulled together. Then in 2018, returning original member and guitarist Calvin Robertshaw texted his departure, effective immediately and when the band regrouped after Stainthorpe’’s daughter was declared cancer-free, returning drummer Shaun Taylor-Steels also left right before the band were supposed to go into the studio. The album itself had been written totally by guitarist Andrew Craighan, who had been unable to reach out to anyone else with Stainthorpe obviously unavailable, there was no other guitarist, and bassist Lena Abe was on maternity leave. With all these challenges, it is amazing there is an album here at all, but there is, and it is one of their very best. They may not have had a drummer, but ex-Paradise Lost drummer Jeff Singer already had his kit set up at the studio and he stepped in. If that was not enough, this was the first album since the band moved to Nuclear Blast from Peaceville and the first in aeons where they weren’t working with Rob Magoolagan, but Mark Mynett has conjured something very special from the band indeed. They produce some wonderfully delicate and ethereal numbers such as “The Solace”, which is a superb contrast to the rest of the album, but against that there are the doom-laden atmospheric heavy pieces one has come to expect from the band over their thirty year history. There are very few who produce doom of the grandeur and majesty of My Dying Bride, and over the years they have moved through different styles and timbres, and on this album they do it all. While old time fans of the band may wish there were more gruffness, and less pure melody, this is an album I have enjoyed immensely. It is incredibly broad and deep, so the more time the listener can give to it the more there is to discover. My Dying Bride may have been away for five years, during which time they have been through some sort of hell, but they are back with an album which re-establishes their control of the genre, as if there had ever been any doubt.
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