My Dying Bride – A Map Of All Our Failures (Peaceville Records)

Wednesday, 27th March 2013
Rating: 8/10

A baleful wind fills the night and rain encroaches beneath a sour moon, eternal black extending otherwise across all horizons. Candlelight punctuates ritual madness and schemes of ongoing trauma and Victorian aesthetics in My Dying Bride’s latest opus, A Map Of All Our Failures, the overall impression of which is much like the above set of statements. This being the first quality time I’ve spent with the band in years, it’s good to see that they’re still producing quality material, even if it’s not terribly different than what I remember from the time of my first introduction in 2002. It still exists in the doomiest of fashions to suck every last bit of happiness from the room, all with a romantic twist!

For all the components that constitute the album and its sound, none are likely to be surprising to anyone familiar with the band’s past work. Plodding tempos, melodic and mournful guitar work and occasional bits of pained violin – all of these staples of many doom bands but here amplified and made unique through the fantastic vocal work of Aaron Stainthorpe. At the heart of the sound he espouses misery, rage, and panic, each of these and more featured throughout “Within the Presence of Absence” and “A Tapestry Scorned.” Diversity is highlighted between these two tracks and his work in them, covering each end of the spectrum of intensity. All of it ringing very clear and deep, no fuzzed out or wonky production anomalies, no peculiar mishaps that have marred other high profile releases this year!

The only shortfall is something commonly encountered with doom-related releases: it can all run together. With eight songs and running just under 64 minutes, simple math tells you that most of these songs are around the 8-minute mark (and indeed, aside from one, they all hover around that seeming sweetspot length). While under close inspection they all tease apart in unique ways at a casual glance (or even the first couple listens) they can bleed together into a dirge-like haze if attention isn’t paid. Closer “Abandoned As Christ” and its lethargy are indicative of the album as a whole, a spurned world collapsing in upon itself and leaving the listener to deal with the aftermath, at times legitimately soul-searing weight. Long-time fans and newcomers alike are likely to find things to love on A Map Of All Our Failures, another strong release for yet another band shooting past the 20-year mark. Fantastically depressing times await you!

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