So how does the new album, For Lies I Sire, compare to the previous My Dying Bride efforts? Is it more of the same or does it incorporate anything new into their songcraft?
On the whole, the album tries to blend their earlier songwriting characteristics with the material that dominated their previous releases, most notably in the vocal department. To claim that it breaks new ground would be an overstatement, but there are certain areas where they have branched off a bit, employing violin and more multi-tracked vocal parts and death vocals this time around. That said, neither the violin nor the deathy growls are used excessively. Rather, Katie Stone's morose violin sections are subtly integrated into the compositins, while Aaron Stainthorpe goes for the growls on just a few of the tracks
without overdoing it.
Some of the highlights include the excellent "My Body, A Funeral," where the addictive vocal melody is slowly repeated by the guitar and violin respectively, whilst the drumming beneath the mix is heavy and crushing. Likewise, the militaristic drums are also fiercely prominent on "Fall with Me," which gives a nod to the band's past. The vocals, however, carry on in the style of the previous album,
A Line of Deathless Kings, although the singing sounds more inspired and emotional on this one.
Among the album's finest moments are the piano-based dirge, "Echoes from a Hollow Soul," and the title track. The guitar themes that preoccupy these tunes sound like they were readapted from the material on The Dreadful Hours, arguably My Dying Bride's last essential album, in that they are gripping and unbelievably sad sounding. It is moreso a similarity in the way the guitars are arranged rather than a musical similarity.
There are some extreme vocals to provide contrast on "Bring Me Victory," with an epic intro and tribal drumming, but honestly, Stainthorpe does seem to strain while doing the growls. It doesn't sound as powerful as his work on earlier albums. Similarly, when he
opts for some growls on the comparatively whacky "ShadowHaunt," his singing recalls Black Metal type of singing, which does not quite suit the song. Add to this the somewhat experimental direction the band has taken, starting in a very stripped down way with violins and strummed acoustic guitars and morphing into a guitar-driven onslaught of riffs
with eerie synth patches and harsh vocals.
The band further experiments in "A Chapter in Loathing," a track that contains plenty of blast beats, tense silences, and a storming mix of synths, violins, and gritty vocal stylings. The final track, at over eleven minutes, sees them expanding on this aesthetic, with strange results. Fast, rolling drums dominate the track in the beginning before Stainthorpe's spoken part emerges as eerie, desolate doom riffs are also introduced slowly into the mix. Then there is again some silence, and then some more riffing. It ends on a creepy note, as the song abruptly ends at the nine-minute mark -- the last two minutes of it is complete silence, thus making it one of their longest songs to date.
Besides the doomy material highlighted by dark guitar themes and excellent clean vocals, there are also relatively catchy tracks like "Santuario di Sangue" (Sanctuary of Blood), which also brings forth weird non-musical elements (deep breathing and horse sounds), some melancholic doom riffs, and powerful vocal harmonies. Also this track has the best bass lines of all.
Overall, while For Lies I Sire may be slightly better than the band's previous two studio albums, A Line of Deathless Kings and Songs of Darkness, Words of Light, but some of the tunes suffer from over-experimentation and the forced brutal singing does not really gel with the clean parts all the way through. That's why I still consider The Dreadful Hours their most accomplished and cohesive work in their last ten years.
By the way, the artwork of the album is very different from their other albums, possibly because it was created on a computer. I do miss the band's own drawings though. The booklet is also interesting as it contains tabs to some of the tunes, including "My Body, A Funeral," "Fall With Me," and "Bring Me Victory."
- My Body, A Funeral
- Fall with Me
- The Lies I Sire
- Bring Me Victory
- Echoes from a Hollow Soul
- Santuario di Sangue
- A Chapter in Loathing
- Death Triumphant