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My Dying Bride : The Ghost of Orion

My Dying Bride's latest full-length is perhaps their most consistent and comprehensively appealing release in nearly twenty years.

There's no easing gently into it, no lengthy build up or slow burning intro. 'The Ghost Of Orion', My Dying Bride's thirteenth studio album, kicks off in an almost blasé fashion and is unapologetically forthright with intention. You'd be forgiven for thinking it's a rather deliberate statement. It's no secret what has transpired in the four and a half years between 'Feel The Misery' and this current offering. Statements from the band, and more recently interviews, have shed a little light on the personal circumstances surrounding vocalist and founder member Aaron Stainthorpe. To cut a long story short, line up changes notwithstanding, after a fairly lengthy and uncertain hiatus, mercifully, and most thankfully, My Dying Bride are back.

'Your Broken Shore', the album's opening track and lead single, tears proceedings into life with its snappy guitar hooks and equally catchy vocal lines. You've heard them do it before, but rarely quite as effectively. It's candy for doomy ears this, no doubt about it. The next two tracks bear all the hallmarks so beloved of this band, being, as they are in equal measures, melodic, elegant and sorrowful. The music twists and writhes somberly along with the guitar and violin (a little low in the mix perhaps?) taking turns to lead the melodies into ever more emotive places. Next up, 'The Solace', which is an interesting little folky dirge with vocals by Lindy-Fay Hella from Wardruna, and one hears the guitars droning away beneath her where one might normally expect a hurdy-gurdy.

The second half of the album begins with 'The Long Black Land', the final part of which builds from practically nothing to a stately, epic finale more than compensating for its overly familiar first half. Following this then, the title track, a short, semi-accoustic affair that in turn leads to 'The Old Earth'. The longest track here, it comes chock full of vintage My Dying Bride moments. Like a good portion of the album though, it's nothing revelatory. But then again, My Dying Bride aren't a band prone to bouts of radical experimentation, swayed by changing fashions or ones to be accused of bandwagon jumping. Nor have they ever ended up lost in their own self-importance, or decided to be something they're not, only to end up peddling backwards several albums later. And that's exactly why 'The Ghost of Orion' is as good a release as it is. It's thoughtful, well crafted and emotive Doom of the calibre the band are known and loved by.

If, like myself, you found 'Feel The Misery' to be a rather patchy affair, and felt that 'A Map Of All Our Failures' started off well enough but ran spectacularly out of steam half way through, then I feel that 'The Ghost of Orion' may go some way in restoring your faith. Personally I'd have to go back to 'Songs of Darkness...' or 'The Dreadful Hours' to find anything else from them as enjoyable from start to finish. But for what it's worth, I do think thay've done what Aaron thought they'd done when he first heard the music the band had been writing in his absence. Namely to have upped their game somewhat.

When all is said and done though, the 'The Ghost of Orion' is nowhere near as dark as some as their other recordings, nor is it as aggressive or bitter, and whilst not entirely impossible, it's unlikely to replace 'Turn Loose The Swans', 'Like Gods of the Sun', or whatever else it might be as your favorite listen. But, let's be honest about it, there aren't many bands still going after thirty years who can keep delivering like this, both maintaining their quality control, and keeping their sound and integrity fully intact. 'The Ghost of Orion' is the album that sees My Dying Bride rising stoically from the ashes of uncertainty, and one that does nothing whatsoever to detract from their acclaimed and beloved musical legacy.

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Reviewer's rating: 8/10


Tracklist :
1. Your Broken Shore
2. To Outlive The Gods
3. Tired Of Tears
4. The Solace
5. The Long Black Land
6. The Ghost Of Orion
7. The Old Earth
8. Your Woven Shore

Duration : Approx. 56 minutes

Visit the My Dying Bride bandpage.

Reviewed on 2020-07-27 by Matt Halsey
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