A “barghest” is a word for an English spirit that takes the form of a huge black dog, with monstrous teeth and claws. These demonic creatures are often conjured by acts of violence and betrayal, and like to prey on solitary travellers. This title is appropriately, given this EP is composed of some of the grimmest doom metal My Dying Bride have created recently.
The sound is bleak and wet, evoking pouring rain and a flat, howling landscape, all moors and mourning. The Barghest O’Whitby is an angry record, but a slow burn, every measured crash of the cymbals and wail of the guitar a promise of vengeance exacted slowly. This is revenge served very, very cold.
I occasionally questioned the single-track structure, as there were several moments when the track naturally ended and divided. With rests instead of full stops, there’s more a sense of a single evolving narrative, but this could be just as effective as separate songs.
This is quite a minor quibble, however. The spot-on pacing of the album creates a sense of eeriness and urgency. The Barghest O’Whitby stalks the listener, growling, then suddenly attacks, teeth to throat. This is a black dog of an EP that will haunt you.
(released November 15, 2011 on Peaceville Records)