The UK’s premier Northern doom-mongers My Dying Bride get busy with the misery again on album number thirteen. Unlucky for some perhaps but not for this six-piece. Donnie checks in and checks it out.
For a band that is well into three decades of existence there is something remarkably fresh and invigorating about The Ghost of Orion. It’s been five years since 2015’s Feel the Misery came out to much positivity and critical appreciation. As usual for a band of their longevity there have been line-up changes since the last outing with Jeff Singer replacing Shaun Taylor-Steels on drums, who had come back to the band for a second stint in 2017.
Also in 2017 the band moved from Peaceville Records to find a new home with Nuclear Blast and the building blocks for the new album were starting to be laid. Sadly the following year vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe’s young daughter was diagnosed with cancer and her treatment and recovery naturally took precedence and so the band was on temporary hiatus. How different the album might have been if it were not for the enforced time out is up for debate but it has certainly provided some very real darkness for the band to tap into.
For example Stainthorpe opens up like never before on the gut-wrenching “Tired of Tears” which deals with his daughters cancer diagnosis. The lyrics bring out the raw emotion in Stainthorpe which brings the track up to another level and makes for a heavy but life-affirming eight minutes.
Similarly “The Long Black Land” is a slow but committed track that dives into the depths of human emotion and darkness and spends a lot time under the water before resurfacing much later, cleansed and ready to go forward once more.
There are some notable contributions on the album and none more so than Warduna’s Lindy-Fay Hella who using her haunting vocal skills to great effect on “The Solace”. Cellist Jo Quail also makes her significant presence felt across the album.
The title track is one of the shortest on the album at a mere three and a half minutes but a lot can be put into that small timeframe. The band use this track to ease the suffering slightly and offer a moment or two of almost hypnotic contemplation.
For traditional My Dying Bride beast-fare then you need look, or should that be listen, no further than the album opener “Your Broken Shore” with it’s powerful roar and resolute intent and for the beauty you can lose yourself in the world of “To Outlive The Gods” which becomes as big a statement as the band have ever committed to tape.
Overall then there is enough here for the diehards to be satisfied that the absence has not dimmed the band’s power or prowess whilst at the same time stretching themselves musically and enough for those that may be checking the band out for the first time to get a flavour of what a modern-day My Dying Bride offers.
Donnie’s Rating: 8.5/10
The Ghost of Orion is out now.