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My Dying Bride - The Ghost of Orion Award winner

My Dying Bride
The Ghost of Orion
by Justin "Witty City' Wittenmeier at 05 March 2020, 4:21 AM

Unless you’ve been under a rock for the last thirty years, MY DYING BRIDE don’t need an introduction.  These Doom Metal legends have been churning out Gothic infused Doom regularly since their first demo in 1991.  However, “The Ghost of Orion,” is their first full length since 2015’s also excellent “Feel The Misery.”  There are hundreds of reasons as to why bands can spend literally years making an album but none more important than the reason for the five-year gap between these two albums. Facing a near unimaginable moment, vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe’s very young daughter was diagnosed with cancer.  As a father myself, my heart goes out to him and the fact this album even came out is a testament to the will of AARON and the rest of the band.  We at Metal Temple want to extend our happy relief that his daughter made it through.

This is also their 13th full length studio album, 14th if you count “Evinta.”  So many bands don’t even put out half as much material before ending for whatever reasons.  Also uncanny is they don’t have any bad albums—as such, I don’t feel the need to rank their albums much or compare “The Ghost Of Orion,” to their previous effort.  A band as influential and legendary as MDB has, of course, many classics that really can’t be compared.  Their modern output has been more than solid, so I’ll just say that “The Ghost Of Orion,” is another great MDB album to add to the collection.  It also sounds more…classical than their previous albums.  Jo Quail provided Cello for the whole album and together with Shaun’s own keyboards and violin, the album has a very sophisticated sound without being too artsy.

But the longevity from which the album extends isn’t the only special aspect of the album, nor is Aaron’s daughter’s sickness the only challenge from which it stemmed.   Original member Calvin  (who returned for “Feel The Misery”), suddenly quit the band without an explanation. Their drummer Shaun Taylor-Steels also departed just before they were to enter the studio.  Still, there was more– long time bassist Lena Abe gave birth and went on maternity leave.  That was certainty a great thing but it left guitarist Andrew Craighand with no one to soundboard to or bounce ideas off of so the album was written in isolation.  Obviously, this must had really inspired his concentration and desire to write well because the results are simply amazing but also different from the usual MY DYING BRIDE album.

Don’t misunderstand that—this isn’t a departure of sound, but rather a different molding of it.  The band is still playing straight up miserable Doom but there are some twists here. As stated multiple times by Aaron before the album’s release, the band wanted to do something that was “easier” on the ears and a bit more accessible.  Trust me, that doesn’t mean that the band went mainstream—you’ll find no three-and-a-half minute hard rock tunes.  It is still heavy as hell, dark as a pit, and drenched with that legendary Doom Metal melancholy.

However, the songs make use of a lot of melody—most of which is catchy as hell even on the more somber songs such “Tired of Tears,” and “The Solace.” The structures also work their way around more use of a chorus, which are also very catchy.  Despite the lyrical nature, if you tell me “Your Broken Shore,” doesn’t make you hum for days then I’ll call you a damn liar. Vocally, Aaron also tries a lot of different ideas.  His deeper, almost conversational tone of his past efforts is used less.  With “Ghost of Orion,” he, quite simply, gives the best performance of his long career.  His approach is more aligned with an actual singing vocal style and higher in tone.  His same nuances and actorly way with lyrics are presented, just wrapped in a different package.

Speaking of vocals, “The Solace,” is such a great song due in no small part to the guest star Lindy-Fay Hella from WARDRUNA.  The entire song is just Andrew’s riffs and her ethereal folk inspired, powerful vocals.    Her voice works so well with the depressive yet folky and even vibrant multi layered riffs.   It is a very powerful song and well placed within the track listing, perfectly bridging the two halves of the album together. Going back to “Tired of Tears,” the drumming is explosive and sharp, which most bands wouldn’t be able to pair effectively with such a tragic song but Jeff Singer seems to have a natural understanding of the band’s music and what they wanted to do with this song. The guy gives the best drum performance on a MDB album in years.

The title track, “The Ghost Of Orion,” is a shorter, cleaner instrumentation piece but it is essential listening as it is a prelude to “The Old Earth,” which is not only the best song on the album but one of the very best tracks the band has done in their entire history.  The track begins with clean guitars, peppered with some clever leads, and Aaron’s somber, low voice.  About 1:50 into the song, new classic MDB riffs present themselves as loud, full testaments of the band’s true power.  The bass thumps and rolls alongside the riffs, guiding the song to its very heavy mid-section where Aaron screams and growls his lungs apart. The song’s ending showcases the violin and guitars working as one for one hell of a last-minute crescendo.

The Ghost Of Orion,” is an expertly crafted album that was created under such stressful conditions that lesser bands would had imploded.  For MY DYING BRIDE and their fans, it is another step in an already long, glorious journey that hopefully won’t end anytime soon.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

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
Lineup:
Andrew Craighan – Guitars
Aaron Stainthorpe – Vocals
Lena Abe – Bass
Shaun Macgowan – Keyboards, Violin
Jeff Singer – Drums
Neil Blanchett - Guitars
Record Label: Nuclear Blast
     


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