"Feel the Misery" is the 13th full-length studio album by UK doomh metal act My Dying Bride. The album was released through Peaceville Records in September 2015. It´s been three years since the release of "A Map of All our Failures (2012)", but My Dying Bride has not laid low in that time. As ususal they have kept busy touring, but they also released "The Manuscript" EP in 2013, and "The Vaulted Shadows" compilation in 2014. The latter is a compilation of "The Barghest O' Whitby (2011)" EP and "The Manuscript (2013)" EP.
My Dying Bride has shifted between four different drummers in the last 10 years, and while some of them have returned for session or live work with the group, few of them have lasted long as permanent members of the band. Dan "Storm" Mullins, who was a permanent member of My Dying Bride from 2007-2012, plays the drums on "Feel the Misery" as a session musician. There´s been one change in the permanent lineup since "The Manuscript (2013)", which was the band´s last studio recording before "Feel the Misery", as guitarist Hamish Hamilton Glencross has been replaced by a returning Calvin Robertshaw. Losing a capacity like Glencross who had been part of the lineup for 14 years, must have been a real blow, so it was probably a great relief that original member Robertshaw opted to return to the fold.
It´s always been guitarist Andrew Craighan and lead vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe, who have led the group and who are primarily responsible for the songwriting, so despite quite a few lineup changes over the years (and again this time around), My Dying Bride has been remarkably consistent in both quality and style during their now long career. Sure there are some releases that aren´t on par with their best output, but even those are also of a high quality. So the music style on "Feel the Misery" is no surprise. Slow, heavy, and melancholic doom metal with Aaron Stainthorpe´s paatos filled clean vocals and occasional growling vocals in front (there are actually a fair amount of growling sections on this particular release). The use of keyboards and occasional violin is also a trademark of the band´s sound that is present on "Feel the Misery". Guitar harmonies and darkly poetic lyrics paint the right gloomy gothic picture.
So as always with a new My Dying Bride release it´s the quality of the songwriting and the sound production which define it´s rank in the band´s discography. And the songwriting is generally really strong on "Feel the Misery". Each track is distinct sounding and memorable after only a few listens, which is not always the case on the band´s releases. Of course that shouldn´t be misunderstood as if the music is simple or instantly catchy, because My Dying Bride as always challenge their listeners with non-linear song structures, and unconventional use of bridges and sections, which at times means that the music touches progressive territory. The album opens with the quite brilliant "And My Father Left Forever" and never lets go until the album closes with "Within a Sleeping Forest". "A Thorn of Wisdom" and "I Almost Loved You" are slightly different sounding tracks, as they are a bit more mellow and piano led, but the different nature of those tracks provide the album with nice variation.
The sound production is overall well sounding, although the drums are placed a bit low in the mix, and they feature a somewhat powerless and clicky sound. There is no doubt a more organic drum sound would have suited the music better. The fact that session drummer Dan "Storm" Mullins puts in what I would characterize as a bit of a half assed job (which is quite disappointing given his previous great performances with the band), isn´t exactly a positive either. And don´t get me wrong here...he gets the job done, but the drumming is very simple, and generally sounds uninspired. Other than the drumming, which I think is sub par to what we´re used to from My Dying Bride, the musicianship is as usual on a very high level, and taking everything into account, "Feel the Misery" is another brilliant release by My Dying Bride despite a few issues. A 4 star (80%) rating is fully deserved.