Oct 1, 2012
My Dying Bride - "A Map Of All Our Failures" ...
The obvious point to be made is this is a very diverse album by My Dying Bride standards and perhaps the very best album they have made to showcase their versatility as musicians. At no point in the album does it get stuck in a rut. Songs offer twists and turns with each track and even the vocals change regularly which gives this album a lot of variety. From the point of view of doom metal, this album is not the bleakest album they have ever done but it is certainly a mournful listening experience. Opening track 'Kneel Till Doomsday' shows that the band mean business and are not ready to release just another exercise in depressive doom metal. The track has powerful warm riffing, clean but very dramatic vocals and atmospheric touches like violin parts that add to the gloomy vibe of the piece. As an opening piece there is no other track on the album that would work as well as this one does. It sets the mood but creates a buzz for the rest of the album which makes sure you are not about to hit "open" on the CD player till this album is well and truly done with.
'Kneel Till Doomsday' is a bit meandering and that is the story with this album as a whole but it works in the albums favor. The album is basically a trip that takes the listener on a journey of tormented sorrowful thoughts. Nearly everything that is on this album is around the 8 minute mark but track two is the odd one out. At just over 5 minutes, 'The Poorest Waltz' is the albums most infectious tune. Melodic and surprisingly commercial for a song that is still total doom, this ponderous track is the most unique track the album has to offer because in many respects it doesn't sound like My Dying Bride at all and so really stands out on its own merits. One element this track has is melodic, hypnotic solos but it is not just a one-off trick designed for this song alone. The wonderful lead work comes back at you time and time again and track three 'A Tapestry Scorned' is a major highlight because of it. Guitarists Andrew Craighan and Hamish Glencros are really in top form supplying some breathtaking leads, some of which are the best they have ever recorded in my humble opinion.
'A Tapestry Scorned' started out as a poem but it is not only poetic lyrically, musically it is also pure majestic poetic beauty - the kind of track to raise goosebumps and send a chill up the spine. 'Like a Perpetual Funeral' marks the halfway point in the album and after a somewhat ordinary opening section, blasts away into one of the most exciting ever My Dying Bride tunes. If it possible to be depressed and happy at the same time, this track does it. It is pure gloom but it also has a positive angle to it that makes this a joy to listen to. Captivating solos are again on display along with a nice blend of clean and gruff vocals and while it is another highlight, it is also the last mind-blowing track the album has to offer. 'A Map Of All Our Failures' from here on in, turns into a predictable but still very good My Dying Bride album. The title track that follows has huge riffs and a spoken word vocal but doesn't offer anything different that a fan of the band wouldn't have heard dozens of times before throughout the last 22 years of the bands existence.
'Hail Odysseus' is more huge riffs and vocals that vary from growls to whispers to spoken words and this keeps it all interesting for this heavy but emotive track. 'Within the Presence of Absence' is one of the albums most atmospheric moments but seems to drag at almost 9 minutes but it still in the classic MDB mold and I doubt if fans of the band would want it any other way. The band picked the perfect opener for the album but they have also picked the perfect closer with the bitter atmospheric doom of 'Abandoned as Christ.' 'A Map Of All Our Failures' WILL end up album of the year for many people and WILL get rated as the best My Dying Bride album ever by some fans of the band. However some might see it another above-average MDB release in the vein of 1995's 'The Angel and the Dark River' and that is how I hear it too. It doesn't offer anything new but it does supply some of the best material the band have ever come up with. The albums second half does seem a bit weak compared with the first half but it is still one of the more solid and consistent My Dying Bride albums to ever be released. Fans will no doubt lap it up and as an introduction to the band (if you have never heard them) you could do a lot worse. Take it from someone who is only a medium-sized fan of the band at best, this is pretty damn good.....8.5/10.
Tags: My Dying Bride