My Dying Bride – The Ghost of Orion (2020) – Review

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The RMR crew will always remember Feel The Misery of My Dying Bride to be the record that blew Paradise Lost out of the water. That was back in late 2015 when we thought we were all set. Ready to head into the making of the new top 10 list.

But nada, the miserables around Aaron Stainthorpe gave us their saddest piece yet and tore our plans asunder. But what is a little delay if it is for a good cause, right?

The last five years were not necessarily the happiest for the band. A number of lineup changes and pretty serious personal tribulations befell MDB since the last record released. A true scenario of doom that made the RMR deck crew wonder in what way all of that might shape a future record. Complete with those terrible rumors that the band had dissolved in 2017.

But this all turned out to be so much fake news. And here they are in 2020 with their 14th full-length record The Ghost of Orion. The first-ever album not on Peaceville Records, but on Nuclear Blast. And that’s a pretty hefty change right there.

One that immediately put us on mainstream alert, though. Because the atomic and otherwise fiery and explosive major metal labels in Germany are pretty famous for their penchant for universal and uniform mainstream fare.

Yet, the first track Your Broken Shore already calmed us down, at least a little – and positively so. This is one tightly written piece that energized our writing genes earlier already. Complete with weepy riffs of doom, reasonably sprinkled with sad clear voice lyrics and growls that truly hold their chocolate milk. A powerful piece of real My Dying Bride.

Now, the aforementioned Feel the Misery gorged with meaty and very powerful riffing and some added speed that really went well with the fare on offer. Yet the gods on The Ghost of Orion decided otherwise. This new record clearly prefers the solemn march of doom down tear lane. A mix of Doom Metal à la Khemmis or Pallbearer and Doom Death Metal that will easily match the best of them doomsters out there.

Yet, already from the beginning, we felt those heavy bricks of sound weighing down on us. Oftentimes, once every member of the band is at work, compression gets so bad you have trouble hearing all of those elements.

Adding to our woes, this straight-in-your-face, overly loud riffing on top of the mix really gets tiresome after a while. Not because it is bad, but because it – yet again – almost drowns out the vocals and other tasty tidbits like the weepy violin that sometimes speaks up. And whilst the guitar play is indeed powerful, wrapping whole songs pretty much around one riff might not necessarily improve matters. Ain’t it, Porta Nigra?

All of that goes hand-in-hand with those overly long pieces like The Old Earth that only exist through endless repetition of the same theme all over again. Which – yet again – does not really improve anything. And it is these recurring flaws on Orion that really pulled down the rating big time.

Yet, we truly enjoyed tracks like Tired of Tears, the centerpiece of The Ghost of Orion. As the lore goes, this track speaks towards Stainthorpe‘s private woes that happened over the last few years. It’s a varied, real tasty piece with echoes of late Black Sabbath on a torrent of doom and desperation.

Or the weird experimental offering called The Solace with Wardruna’s Lindy Fay Hella. At first, I really scratched my head as to where this gaggle of tracks was actually heading. But this little looney tune finally resolves into one of My Dying Bride‘s better concoctions, albeit being totally outside their very own beaten path. And I truly liked the free-flowing turn to the next track, The Long Black Land, with its unusual lyrical coverage. A true attempt to hypnotize the fans with that syrupy pace we know from other styles.

So, in the end, there’s a load of hot and cold on The Ghost of Orion. A bunch of traditional MDB songs, together with some experimentation thrown in for good measure. This would have been a pretty promising mix on that thorny road to ensured success. If only the aforementioned shortcomings would not always display themselves so prominently.

Still, Orion is a good record. It is always a great idea to innovate and test new waters, especially when it is done right. This whole deluge of tears is nestled in tasty and meaty riffs with a vocalist at the top of his game. If they can beat those technical demons in time, we should be up for much more terrible sadness for years to come.

The RMR deck crew is already waiting.

Ed’s note: If you thought that this one was good, try Shores of Null. Enjoy!

Record Rating: 6/10| LabelNuclear Blast| Web: Official Band Site
Release date: 6 March 2020

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