A Map Of All Our Failures continues that journey. However, don’t go mistaking Bride’s singular vision for a lack of progress. Although instantly recognizable as the same band that debuted with As The Flower Withers back in 1992, this is a band constantly evolving and maturing.
On AMOAOF they have taken what was once an endearing but ever so slightly naive romantic spin on doom/death metal to a whole new level, almost as if every album in their career to date has been leading to this moment.
In short, AMOAOF is a breathtakingly beautiful record, full of achingly heavy but melodic riffs and melancholic orchestrations weaving in and out of funereal march rhythms that are sparse, yet insistent. Every note and every beat matters, but it’s the spaces in between that best convey the tragedy and inherent heartbreak so characteristic of My Dying Bride.
As evocative and moving as the music is, the intensely emotional vocals of Aaron Stainthorpe are central to the band’s unique sound and he turns in a peerless performance. Mostly reliant on a mournful, gothic croon, Stainthorpe offers diversity with spoken word passages and the occasional foray into death metal growling, but it’s a sign of the band’s maturity that the vocals never overwhelm the music and that in whatever form, they remain entirely appropriate for the mood of the song.
In isolation, any one of these eight tracks can be singled out for high praise, with the majestic “The Poorest Waltz” especially outstanding, but it’s when listened to as a whole that AMOAOF is most compelling.
Review deadlines rarely allow the luxury of living with an album long enough for it to fully reveal its hidden nuances and the expectation is that AMOAOF will continue to startle, surprise and delight for a long time to come, but even the briefest of listens confirm this as being a special album.
In a genre where there are so many bands getting it horribly wrong, My Dying Bride are a shining example of how to get it right and are streets ahead of the competition. A Map Of All Our Failures is simply magnificent.
(released October 16, 2012 on Peaceville Records)