My Dying Bride – The Ghost of Orion (Nuclear Blast)

Tuesday, 3rd March 2020
Rating: 9/10

To the most ardent of doom hearts or long-time My Dying Bride devotees, not seeing the indelible Peaceville Records stamp on an album by the long-running Yorkshire troupe generates both pause as well as the understanding that change is perpetual. While Paradise Lost often receives credit for putting Peaceville on the metal map (the label was already starting to flourish in the punk scene), it was My Dying Bride that anchored their roster through some very prosperous as well as thin years. Their move to the behemoth that is Nuclear Blast indicates that bigger and much-deserved things on the horizon. The fact that The Ghost of Orion is the band’s best since 2001’s The Dreadful Hours only makes the timing all the more serendipitous.

Of course, no one within My Dying Bride had a sense of serendipity when the daughter of frontman Aaron Stainthorpe was diagnosed with cancer after the release of 2015’s Feel the Misery. The resultant show cancellations and withdrawal from public view cast doubt on My Dying Bride’s future. But, thankfully, she emerged with a clean diagnosis and enabled Stainthorpe to remain ensconced as the towering beacon of sorrow and introspection that he’s always been. This time, however, he has plenty of personal experience to draw from — you can feel it enveloping cuts such as “To Outlive the Gods” and “Tired of Tears,” whereupon a surge of twin guitar melodies and violins find My Dying Bride at their harmonious best.

Lead cut “Your Broken Shore” harkens to the aforementioned The Dreadful Hours as well as their invincible 1990s output where the band so capably perfected the back-and-forth between romanticism and death metal. Due credit to guitarist Andrew Craighan, who shouldered virtually the entire songwriting load and found ways to intertwine simplistic, but memorable guitar lines in sterling fashion on “The Long Black Land” and “The Old Earth.”

An album that almost didn’t come to be, The Ghost of Orion serves not only as a rebirth for My Dying Bride but a reminder of their resilience and firm, proper standing as one of the true pillars of British doom.

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