My Dying Bride – “Feel The Misery” (Peaceville Records)
25 years on….12 albums later…..and My Dying Bride continue in the same melancholic grace that has seen their longevity withstand the test of time like the Yorkshire Moors themselves. Quintessentially English, their tale of sorrow began in 1992 with Peaceville Records, recording their debut in Academy Studios in Dewsbury, which incidentally is where the band have returned to record “Feel The Misery”. Speaking of returns, following the departure of longtime guitarist Hamish Glencross, this album sees the return of original guitarist Calvin Robertshaw, who left in 1998, but has never strayed too far from the band. With so many key ingredients in place, it’s clear that these masters of gothic doom death metal have returned to their roots, but not forgetting the good things they’ve learned along the way. To say the 8 tracks herein are epic is something of an understatement, for they are some of the most sorrowful, powerfully atmospheric pieces I’ve ever heard from the band! Composed pretty much by guitarist Andrew Craighan, I bet across many, many long nights in splendid solitude, these 9 minute plus mournful pieces reflect the sort of emotion and woeful passion that bands can only dream about, but My Dying Bride have perfected into their trademark sound. Even more remarkable is that this has been achieved by and large by the twin guitars of Craighan and Robertshaw, with Shaun MacGowan’s violins and keyboards, whilst undoubtedly there, being less prominent than on previous albums. Undoubtedly a mainstay of the band are Aaron Stainthorpe’s heavy hearted vocals that shift from depressive singing to gentle wails to deathly growls, but all of which are full of personal expression in their mood and emotion. Taken together, this is a very rich album indeed, with many months laboring to get the complex compositions and accompanying atmosphere perfectly correct, from gently piano melodies accompanying heavy doom guitars to the increasing use of church organs which I found uplifting in a cathartic way. It took me several listens to get through all the layers of these masterful compositions and I’m still discovering new things on tracks like ‘To Shiver In Empty Halls’, ‘And My Father Left Forever’ and my personal fave, the 10 minute doom death epic of ‘Within A Sleeping Forest’ – a dark, stalking song with its heavy brooding guitars, organs and Stainthorpe’s growling meets priest praying vocals – simply too much for my tender soul to bear! Intensely emotional, immensely important, yet hugely overlooked, My Dying Bride have returned once more in enviable style for you again to feel their misery on what must be the genre album of the year.