UK doom alchemists My Dying Bride set themselves a major benchmark with their album A Map of All Our Failures last year, a release which took all the expected prime essences bred by the band across the years and that made fans of the Yorkshire quintet offer fervour driven support since their formation in 1990, and laid them onto a fresh rich new plateau. It was typical My Dying Bride but in a new pleasing stance which even set those of us who have more of a passing affair with their music to stop and take notice. The Manuscript is a four track EP which continues the presence established on the previous record and though it slips just below the high standards set it employs the new emotively carved impacting breath which emerged for another very appealing experience.
Released via Peaceville Records, The Manuscript is a potent imagery bearing quartet of tales seeded and reaped in tragedy, loss and bitter vengeance; gothic tales brought to bear with metallic intensity and melancholic shadow bred melodies. Each song strolls and prowls a well-worn, but not exhausted or diluted, premise of love, death, and all the emotions which make their bed within the two extremes. It is like most of their releases an offering which is easy to see why the band garner such devotion from fans even if personal fires lay no more than smouldering at best, and like the last record an encounter which has the ability to raise a few sparks even in less receptive appetites.
The title track rides in on a soulful blaze of guitar whilst bass and drums add their firm touch to the emerging presence, but it is the instant lure of the vocals of Aaron Stainthorpe followed by the ever delicious emotive breath of the violin, Shaun MacGowan using the canvas set to paint a potent impassioned melancholic weave upon its surface, which seals the brewing recruitment to its premise. The heavy laden walk of the track consumes senses and thought, wrapping them in dense feelings for the guitars of Andrew Craighan and Hamish Glencross to seduce with their personal narrative and suggestively confronting riffs. The concussive approach of the drums certainly in cymbals and percussion does the song no favours to be honest, nor the release as a whole, but such the excellence at work around them it is a minor niggle especially when the song slips wonderfully into an elevated groove lined enterprise which reminds of the same heart recruiting, passion lighting anthemic temptation which veined the early work of the Skids, the slight Celtic whispers irresistible within the rhythmic snarl of drums and bass of Lena Abé. It is an explosive virulence which makes way for a gentle folk crafted climax for a little bit of disappointment despite its own personal beauty, such the quality and lure of what heralded its appearance.
The opener is impressive even though for our individual tastes it ebbs and flows a little, the song always richly satisfying but igniting moments of real seduction without retaining that hook throughout. The same happens with the following Var Gud Over Er, the immediate carnivorous attack of rapacious riffs and predatory bass calls gnawing and growling with thrilling ferocity whilst the guitars create a sonic weave to encapsulate the intensity. Across its even pace crawl though even with the enjoyable move from intimidating growls to a cleaner expressive delivery in the vocals, the track only provokes and invites a full ardour never quite getting its many appealing barbs in deep enough for a total persuasion. The track is an undeniably pleasing companion though which arguably does outstay it’s welcome at eight minutes plus of a relatively uniformal stance, but offers another great finale as it makes way for its successor A Pale Shroud of Longing.
The song loams large and tall over the ear with descriptive melodic fire from the guitar revealing itself beneath a wall of oppressive energy built by bass and drums which seizes any remaining attention and chains it to the brewing sonic embrace and the subsequent emotive beauty spawn again by MacGowan and his singing bow. It is a moment which sees tingles running their tiny fingers down thoughts and spine as the evolving intensity and weight of the song exploits with open craft and contagious imagination their persuasive touch. It is easily the best track on the EP, its haunting voice and feverish hunger within the again crawling ravenous passion and weight, an irresistible temptress which combined with the treacherous yet spellbinding tide of emotive darkness, leaves a big highlight.
The closing Only Tears to Replace Her With is very much like the second song on the EP, a track with moments which instil a lingering entrancement but never quite restrains their escape into enjoyable but uninspiring captures. The Manuscript is an excellent release for the main though and one fans of the band will devour with ferocity and be rewarded wholly for, whilst for others like us it may not light any fires but offers plenty to relieve happily again.
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