My Dying Bride are a product of their environment if ever there was. As cold, barren and inhospitable as the West Yorkshire landscape they call home.

On “A Mortal Binding” though, there really does seem to have been an effort (whether that’s subconscious or not, who knows?) to return to the original sound.

“Her Dominion” is to all intents and purposes a death metal track. Aaron Stainthorpe hasn’t sounded this harsh in a long time.

That’s fine, too. As I’ve said before when I’ve reviewed their stuff, MDB were a band I found in the wake of a serious Paradise Lost obsession in the early 90s. They remain the most extreme outfit metal that I like, and this one pushes the boundaries.

The drums on “Thornwyck Hymn” crush, but elsewhere there’s a feeling of the shadows, the macabre. There’s an unsettling sound here, something close to what Green Lung did on last year’s brilliant “This Heathen Land” record (of course I understand where they took inspiration from).

These are great big slabs of stuff that in other hands would be traditional folk songs. The ominous way that “The 2nd Of Three Bells” builds is special, and there’s poetry here.  Stainthorpe adopts his best melodic tones as he muses: “I can’t find any joy” – a sentiment that is perfect for the album.

Genuine epics they are too. “Unthroned Ceeed” chugs along as if it’s making a statement:“I won’t help you anymore” goes its line in the first verse and the suggestion you are cut adrift is never far away.

If this has always given off prog vibes, then “The Apocalyptist” stretches itself over an 11-minute icy blast as it rolls out the unwelcome mat, if you will.

Bands only do this sort of thing if they’re right on the top of their game and Andrew Craighan (who, like the singer has been in the band since the start) is pulling out all his groove throughout. Huge, they are too, but the music is clever here and the whole band seem to be right on it.

“Crushed Embers” revels in finding the same vibe that most of it has: slow, nasty, and with something ethereal lurking just below the surface, largely because of Shaun MacGowan using his violin quite incredibly.

My Dying Bride have spent well over 30 years doing this. And what “this” is, has been varied. On “A Mortal Binding” though, their first for four years, it’s anything but easy listening.

Business as usual, then.

Rating 8.5/10

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