My Dying Bride - Feel the Misery
Peaceville Records
8 songs (1:02:28)
Release year: 2015
My Dying Bride, Peaceville Records
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

This review is only a little late! But in advance of their new album, it's worth looking back at their previous meisterwerk, Feel the Misery. Despite the almost meme-worthy title it's very much a serious release, high-quality doom with excellent songwriting. Sure, the guitars often act more texturally than as riff-machines thanks to the main weak point of the album, the flawed production which buries them slightly making for disappointing early listens; yet the results work well once given time to sink in. Strident opener And My Father Left Forever introduces the album perfectly, a rhythmic pounder dominated by the vocals and given melodic melancholy by the violin, the guitars and excellent drumming (courtesy here of The Axis of Perdition's Dan Mullins) acting in service. Yet they both still make an impact; the almost shimmering riffing is almost orchestral in style, Aaron Stainthorpe's yearning clean singing flowing over the top wonderfully. He's truly a remarkable vocalist, gripping your attention tightly whether plaintively moaning or, as on To Shiver in Empty Halls and elsewhere, utilising his growls for the first time in years. There's both a dramatic spoken word and a whispered section here that would ruin the song if performed by any other band, but such theatrics enhance rather than detract from the funeral doom-esque atmosphere, and the lightly-applied piano is a cherry on top.

Despite the general loose song structures and similarity in terms of construction, each song feels unique and separate. Doom metal is an odd genre; capable of being simultaneously powerful and fragile, it has an emotional investment unlike any other metal sibling that makes for vulnerable music, that truly feels like the band has poured their heart out in front of you. Each and every song here shows this off, such as A Cold New Curse's almost broken later section where the vocals turn to breathy whispers over droning riffs and slow, militaristic drum beats, before restarting the metal with an orchestral backing that makes one wish the symphonic Evinta experiment turned out better than it did. It's hard to think of another band nearly thirty years old with such an established sound that tinkers with it as much as My Dying Bride do, but the gothic rock that opens A Thorn of Wisdom, dominated by keyboards and Lena Abé's bass (worth taking a moment to appreciate the most underrated and rarely-mentioned member of the band!) is a remarkably effective experiment, building and stopping at the exact right moment to leave you wanting more - can we get Aaron involved with a post-punk side-project?

For the moment, his domination of the doom genre is more than enough. The slow I Celebrate Your Skin is funeral doom in all but name, complete with echoing male choral vocals and church bells, and the lyrics! Yearning poetry that is both sensual and romantic, paeans of regret for lost loves with comparisons to dying gods and silver moons, as fantastic as ever. And what a way to follow it by giving the listener a breather in the form of I Almost Loved You, leaving Aaron's voice to chill you backed by only piano and violin! It's a perfect break before the final epic Within a Sleeping Forest, featuring some of the most deathly and inhuman growls from Aaron yet, building before unleashing upon the listener with a strange yet compelling droning riff, the funeral doom aspect to My Dying Bride's sound again coming to the fore. A masterful end to a masterful album; each time I revisit this band they impress me anew, even on their lesser releases which Feel the Misery certainly isn't. Despite the flaws here, which do diminish as you spend more time with it, this is a terrific album that still excites and inspires four years after release, and is sure to do so for many more. If the band's forthcoming (fourteenth!) opus is half as good, it'll be remarkable indeed.

Killing Songs :
And My Father Left Forever, A Cold New Curse, A Thorn of Wisdom, Within a Sleeping Forest
Goat quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by My Dying Bride that we have reviewed:
My Dying Bride - The Ghost of Orion reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
My Dying Bride - The Angel and the Dark River reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
My Dying Bride - The Manuscript EP reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
My Dying Bride - A Map Of All Our Failures reviewed by Goat and quoted 84 / 100
My Dying Bride - The Barghest O'Whitby reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
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