My Dying Bride - 34.788%...complete
A couple of major shifts in their lineup later, and My Dying Bride's next foray would see an extreme shift in musical direction. Apparently inspired to experimentation with the loss of founding drummer Rick Miah and pivotal multi-instrumentalist Martin Powell (who jumped ship to fellow UK metal stalwarts Cradle of Filth), 34.788%...Complete is not the most extreme change of directions on record, but for many fans, it was very much unwelcome.
Personally, I can appreciate the change while looking in the rearview of an otherwise solid discography. But, at the time of it's release, I can imagine many disappointed listeners. Gone are the intricately pieced-together slabs of morbid, downtrodden death/doom that helped spawn a new subgenre; in their place we have more pop-centric metal that contains heavy industrial rock influence. "The Whore, The Cook And The Mother" actually makes a very lasting impression from the start, despite the redundant atmospheric timewaster of a passage that takes up too much of it's 12 minute length. The highlights here are the bookends; a raw, powerful hook and a large dose of distorted nasal angst from Aaron Stainthorpe. "The Stance Of Evander Sinque" is, goofy title aside, probably the most accessible and moving bit of music on the record. It thunders forward with an eerie sort of groove, shifting into brief doses of distorted lead runs. "Der Uberlebende" is pretty much standard MDB fare, but suffers a bit from the shoddy production values that slightly hinder most of these tracks. "Heroin Chic" is the track that really sets this album up for the endless criticism it has recieved. An ill-concieved (fortunately for all of us, this only happened once in the band's career to date) and absolutely laughable mix of industrial noise and trip-hop. Aaron's psuedo-rapping vocals are cringeworthy considering the image he had created for himself. Lyrically, "Chic" and most of the record in general are similarly experimental for the group; instead of the standard lost love, dying world, depressive stuff, we have drugs, sex and sex while on drugs. Perhaps another avenue leading to the same destination, but definitely not a good direction for these guys.
A few noteworthy tracks aside, 34.788%...Complete is really not worth the price of admission. A let down for anyone expecting the My Dying Bride of previous days, but thankfully an experimental phase that wouldn't last longer than one record. As I said, I can appreciate the risk, and the handful of moments where it pays off, but it's hard to avoid the truly terrible elements of what maybe couldn't have been an avoided phase in My Dying Bride's storied history.
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