Review: My Dying Bride ‘A Mortal Binding’

Unless you’ve lived under a rock or been a metal fan that is somehow well-adjusted and happy, you know who My Dying Bride are and what they do. They’ve been perfecting their gloom and doom for over thirty years now, and while their lineup has changed a lot over the years, their most recognisable assets, Aaron Stainthorpe‘s gloriously morose voice and Andrew Craighan‘s groaning, weeping riffs, are as present as ever. Their newest record, A Mortal Binding, is out now through Nuclear Blast.

My Dying Bride 'A Mortal Binding' Artwork
My Dying Bride ‘A Mortal Binding’ Artwork

If you remember back to the halcyon days of 2019, before the world completely fell apart, you’ll also remember My Dying Bride‘s incredible The Ghost Of Orion record and how it, somehow almost more than any other of their releases, captured a poignancy and a gravitas of sadness that few could ever hope to reach. So as Her Dominion opens with a rumbling doomy riff and growling snarls, it comes as a little bit of a shock.

Stainthrope‘s rich clean tones are normally a tapestry of lyrical poetry over such riffs, but this growl gives the track some raw, seething energy that most of their work normally lacks. It was striking on the first listen, and yet somehow perfectly in sync within the second listen. Thornwyck Hymn follows in grand, classic My Dying Bride style, with swooning riffs, dripping gothic atmospheres and Stainthorpe‘s classic croon.

The 2nd Of Three Bells brings back the death/doom ferocity of their earliest days, a theme of primal gloom and melancholia that is now empowered by primal growls. But it is the tragic heights of The Apocalyptist that truly give us one of the peaks of the band’s entire career, a real callback to the earliest days of Turn Loose The Swans and As The Flower Withers.

everything comes together in a rich tapestry of gothic death/doom perfection…

The drums from Dan Mullins are so heavy here, accompanying each riff with such a force that it emphasises the sheer weight of everything. The vocals range from deep growls to clean, the violin is glorious, the melancholic romanticisms are in full sway, it is a thing of dark beauty. Closing with Crushed Embers, one of the most My Dying Bride songs you’ll hear, this is the work of a group of people that have incredible control of their talents.

A Mortal Binding is a tough proposition to analyse when you’ve been a fan of this band as long as I have. I’m one of those people who believe they have rarely, if ever, put a foot wrong, and thus it contains everything you could need as a fan. You have the crushing riffs, that sermonising sadness of Stainthorpe‘s voice, the violin from Shaun MacGowan, the sodden atmosphere; everything comes together in a rich tapestry of gothic death/doom perfection.

A Mortal Binding is an album that you can spend days absorbed in and it will reveal itself to you in a splendour that very few bands have ever been able to create. Another stunner from an all-time great.

Label: Nuclear Blast Records
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Scribed by: Sandy Williamson