My Dying Bride
Songs of Darkness, Words of Light
~reviewed by Eric Rasmussen

Aaron Stainthorpe, infamous vocalist of My Dying Bride (MBD), switches smoothly between depressed crooning, menacing rasps, and a very dramatic clean voice that sounds remarkably like the narrator in Disneyland's The Haunted House ride. I mention this, because listening to Songs of Darkness, Words of Light is rather like going on Disney's famed ride. At least, if the ride lulled you into a false sense of security, opened an abyss to the underworld, and dumped you headlong into a bleak surrealistic nightmare of longing and loss.

Maybe it's not so much like the ride after all. But if you're in the right frame of mind, MDB immerses you into a deep and moving soundscape that captures human suffering like no other. The doomy guitar riffs set the tone and pacing (often mid-tempo or slower, but with some more epic and slightly faster numbers), and the deliberate, purposeful drumbeats hail impending doom at every turn. The keyboards fill out the sound with sweeping orchestras, creepy organs, and soft piano, and act as a cushioning backdrop for all of the painful emotion.

The vocals, however, are the real draw to MDB's patented sound. Although Stainthorpe tends to travel into lugubrious, melodramatic territory, I never get the feeling that he does so to lead the listener into feeling a particular way - he's just really, really upset. It's easy to pass off MDB's music as being somewhat silly, if you aren't in a receptive frame of mind. This style of doom metal is very mood based, and will in no way appeal to people who are perfectly content with their current situations and life in general.

I have heard enough MDB to assert that Songs of Darkness, Words of Light is a very worthwhile addition to the MDB catalogue, and is no doubt a must have for fans. I can't say to what extent the band is retreading their old territory or breaking new ground, but as a relative newcomer to MDB, I can tell you that metal fans who've put off listening to the band should quit lollygagging around and get to it. Songs of Darkness, Words of Light won't depress the happy, but its darkly beautiful yet sepulchral tone will provide great comfort to the downcast.

Track List:
1) The Wreckage of My Flesh
2) The Scarlet Garden
3) Catherine Blake
4) My Wine in Silence
5) The Prize of Beauty
6) The Blue Lotus
7) And My Fury Stands Ready
8) A Doomed Lover

My Dying Bride is:
Aaron Stainthorpe - vocals
Ade Jackson - bass
Andrew Craighan - guitar
Hamish Glencross - guitar
Shaun Taylor-Steels - drums
Sarah Stanton - keyboards

My Dying Bride - Official Site:

Peaceville Records: