My Dying Bride - Songs Of Darkness, Words Of Light
In what has become a far too common trend in My Dying Bride's career, following up their handful of truly outstanding albums is a task taller than the limits of their reach. 2001's The Dreadful Hours is one of the band's two best efforts to date, a stellar accomplishment over a decade into the band's history. Next came Songs of Darkness, Words of Light, and it definitely lacks much of what made it's predecesor a pleasure to listen to.
The foremost issue can be looked at in a rather general sense; the songwriting seems to dip dramatically from expected levels. Opener "The Wreckage of My Flesh" does manage to catch one's ear, especially as the organ chimes in and lays a thick layer of foggy atmosphere. After this, however, almost the entire record misses the mark the band set for themselves. Their penchant for 6 and 7-minute tracks does them no favors when the songwriting wilts on the vine, and beyond the somber and melancholic "My Wine In Silence", these tracks are indeed a decayed mess. Some may disagree, but vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe, long the band's most noticable element, seems unusually unsure of himself, gripping too hard on some passages while simply passing up opportunities to stretch his lyrical abilities.
While certainly not unlistenable, it pains me to find a lack of consistency in the band's discography. Songs of Darkness, Words of Light will please the purists and the fanatics, no doubt, and at least doesn't represent a total about-face in terms of general direction. It's dark, damp and painful in the standard My Dying Bride formula, but it fails to work that angle to anything close to praise-worthy results.
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