MY DYING BRIDE — The Light at the End of the World

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MY DYING BRIDE - The Light at the End of the World cover
3.88 | 29 ratings | 6 reviews
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Album · 1999

Tracklist

1. She Is the Dark (8:26)
2. Edenbeast (11:22)
3. The Night He Died (6:25)
4. The Light at the End of the World (10:35)
5. The Fever Sea (4:05)
6. Into the Lake of Ghosts (7:08)
7. The Isis Script (7:08)
8. Christliar (10:30)
9. Sear Me III (5:26)

Total Time: 71:09

Line-up/Musicians

- Aaron Stainthorpe / Vocals
- Andy Craighan / Guitar
- Ade Jackson / Bass
- Shaun Steels / Drums

Session:
- Jonny Maudling / Session Keyboards

About this release

Full-length, Peaceville / MFN CDVILE 79, October 12th, 1999

Recorded and mixed at Academy Studio, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire from June 7 to August 4
Engineered by Mags, mixed by Mags, Calvin & Andrew

Note: Slipcase edition also available.
Re-issued in 2004 on Peacevile digipack (CDVILED79)

Re-released November 2009 by Night of the Vinyl Dead, cat. # NIGHT066, lim.ed.
500 handnumbered copies, double light vinyl

Thanks to UMUR, TheHeavyMetalCat, adg211288 for the updates

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MY DYING BRIDE THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE WORLD reviews

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lukretion
After two disappointing albums (the mediocre Like Ghosts of the Sun and the failed experiment to modernize their sound which is 34.788%...Complete), My Dying Bride were quick to jump on the horse again and try to show their fans that they were still a relevant voice in the metal landscape at the turn of the millennium. Seen in this light, The Light at the End of the World is certainly a resounding success. Ditching the experimentalism of their previous record, My Dying Bride embraced again their sorrowful doomy identity (including their original logo!) and showed the fans they could still write memorable death/doom/gothic tunes like no other. At the same time, the album only contains a couple of tracks that can truly be numbered among the band’s best, while the rest of the songs are little more than respectable extras.

In terms of songwriting, on this album My Dying Bride return to their tried and true formula of combining snail-paced tempos, long-winding and tortuous guitar riffs, dramatic keyboards (played by Bal Sagoth’s Jonny Maudling who replaced as a guest the band’s former keyboard player Martin Powell), lots of drum fills (played by Shaun Taylor-Steels, who replaced Rick Miah), and Aaron Stainthorpe’s trademark lamented crooning vocals. Aaron also throws-in growled vocals on a couple of songs, as well a half-spoken recitation on the album’s splendid title track. Structurally, the songs are complex and go through several different sections throughout their duration, with plenty of tempo changes and accelerations/decelerations. As with all My Dying Bride’s albums, this is not music for the faint of heart and it requires some time investment to be properly appreciated.

Yet, many songs on The Light at the End of the World showcase instantly memorable melodies carried by either the vocals or the guitars, which greatly facilitate their assimilation compared to the band’s previous output. This trimming-down and streamlining of the sound is a process that the band had already inaugurated on their 1995 album The Angel and the Dark River, and marks the transition from their early death/doom style to the gothic/doom sound they will embrace at later stages in their career. On The Light at the End of the World My Dying Bride are still in transition, though the desire to write more accessible songs is evident on tracks like the chorus-driven “The Isis Script”, for example.

The album flows away pleasantly, with some peaks and some declines. Among the strongest songs there is certainly the title-track, a 10+ minute beast that is as dark and desperate as the night itself. A beautiful tale of lost love, the song ebbs and flows between Aaron’s sombre recitation and a beautifully decadent vocal melody that keep returning again and again throughout the duration of the song. I also like a lot the three “shorter” and more compact pieces that follow the title-track, “The Fever Sea”, “Into the Lake of Ghosts” and “The Isis Script”, which all contain some great, attention-grabbing melodic intuitions. While not as perfect as some of the tracks on the band’s subsequent album (The Dreadful Hours), these tracks showcase all the potential of the gothic/doom sound My Dying Bride were developing at the time. On the other hand, the record sags a bit when it hits the longer compositions, like “Edenbeast” and “Christliar”, which overstay their welcome with tortuous, unyielding melodies that verge on the boring.

Despite a few missteps and a mastodontic length of 71 minutes that discourages repeated listens, The Light at the End of the World is a fine album and a worthwhile descent into misery. It represents a clear return to form for the British band, which was needed after two albums that disappointed more than a few fans. That things were on the upswing for the Bride will become even clearer after a couple of years, when the band will release The Dreadful Hours, which stands still today as one of the best records in their whole discography.
siLLy puPPy
After the less than positively received experimental album “34.788%…Complete,” MY DYING BRIDE quickly worked on damage control and did what any band would do when their fast sailing career hits a rock and starts to sink, namely retreat, go back to what worked and repeat! The band wasted no time getting back into the studio and releasing the sixth album THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE WORLD the following year with a more classic MY DYING BRIDE sound on display as if shouting out to the fanbase “hey! we were just playing around but we’re back!” And back they were not only with long sprawling epic compositions that displayed the full power of the gothic doom metal that had pushed them through the 90s but with the added bonus of bringing back the death metal aspects with moments of aggressive outbursts accompanied by Aaron Stainthorpe’s grating death growls.

It seems that the experimental album scared off a couple band members who weren’t jiving with the new direction. Drummer Bill Law jumped ship to be replaced by Shaun Steels (formerly of Anathema) and guitarist Calvin Robertshaw stepped down as guitarist but stuck around to become the tour manager which left the band officially as a quartet however keyboardist Jonny Maudling of Bal-Sagoth was recruited as a session player. Robertshaw does appear briefly on the album as the second guitarist on “Sear Me III” which is a thematic continuation from the two previous “Sear Me’s” on earlier albums which served as an extra indicator that MY DYING BRIDE was back in their comfort zone which is exactly where the rabidly hungry gothy death doom crowds wanted them. With Robertshaw out, it left Andrew Craighan as the only guitarist but he does double duty on THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE WORLD where he covers all guitar parts and does quite well i might add.

Stylistically THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE WORLD pick up where “Like Gods Of Sun” left off and pretends the album in between never happened however this is MY DYING BRIDE and despite returning to a more familiar approach never simply repeats the formula without some tweaking here and there. First thing that is noticeable is that despite the return to former glory, there is still no violin and no piano parts to be heard. Instead, the atmospheric dynamics are handled by the ambient swirls of the keyboard parts and authentically mimic and replace the mournful wails fairly well. It would have seemed unimaginable that such dreadful dirge could be lamented without the sad stringed vibrato and fastidious flexing of the bow but Maudling does an excellent job of layering the atmospheric overcast in such a fashion that it convincingly usurps its once unthinkable absence. While Stainthorpe returns to his classic plaintive goth-tinged crooning once again, this time around his style branches out more with more octaves covered and of course the return to aggressive outbursts of death growls however they only occur infrequently.

Also returning to the old formula is how the tracks sprawl out into slow plodding epics with trodding doom laden guitar riffs that take on two roles: one, chug and two, sustain. Both distorted power chords that sustain and the expected chugging doom march both are quite prevalent, however there are many twin guitar counterpoint attacks as well with more licks and solos sneaking through as well as the rare but satisfying sudden death metal attacks. In fact, this is a really a more guitar oriented album than the earlier ones that focused more on the violin and piano for much of their running time. As with most MY DYING BRIDE albums, this one too is quite consistent in its quality with each track standing out from the rest but never drifting too far away stylistically speaking. This comeback album was certainly what the doctor ordered and set the band back on track to crank out another batch of stellar albums. This is one band that dodged that proverbial bullet and the doom metal world was all the better for it.
Warthur
After a long period of sonic exploration beginning with the blending of death-doom and darkwave on Turn Loose the Swans, passing through the gothic-doom metal phase of The Angel and the Dark River and Like Gods of the Sun, and culminating in the experimental miscellanea of 34.788%...Complete, My Dying Bride's next move was to go straight back to death-doom on The Light At the End of the World, with both growled vocals and moments of faster playing bringing the death metal back into their formula.

And yet at the same time, this isn't As the Flower Withers Part 2. My Dying Bride have clearly learned the lessons of their sonic evolution, and the result of this is a death-doom release which the incarnation of the band who produced their early material could have never realised. It took that period of exploration to hone their craft and pick up the ideas which come together to make The Light At the End of the World such a well-crafted piece, and in fact I actually think it beats out everything that came before it. The patience of both My Dying Bride and their fanbase is amply rewarded here, and the pessimists are proved wrong: it turns out the light at the end of the world wasn't an oncoming train after all.
UMUR
"The Light at the End of the World" is the 6th full-length studio album by UK doom metal act My Dying Bride. The album was released through Peaceville Records in October 1999. There have been two lineup changes since the release of "34.788%... Complete (1998)" as drummer Bill Law has been replaced by Shaun Steels and guitarist Calvin Robertshaw has left too. The latter had been a member of the band since 1990 and was not replaced on this album, where Andy Craighan handles all guitars. Robertshaw does play on the closing track "Sear Me III" though in a capacity of session musician.

...after the rather experimental "34.788%... Complete (1998)" album, the band opted to return to more familiar ground with "The Light at the End of the World". There´s a small surprise in store though. The album sees a return of the death growls that had been absent from the band´s last three releases. The growling vocals are of course paired with lead vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe´s melancholic and paatos filled clean vocals, but with the growls back in the music it´s hard not to think of the band´s first two albums. There´s quite a big difference here though as there is no violin on the album. An instrument that was a dominant part of the first two albums. Instead (and this was also the case on "34.788%... Complete (1998)") there are some atmosphere enhancing keyboards added to the instrumental basis of guitar, bass and drums. The keyboards add just the right majestic atmosphere for the brick heavy yet melodic doom metal songs to shine. They are not omnipresent though, and only appear when they are called for.

The album is 71:09 minutes long and I don´t think it´s all the material on the album that reaches excellence, but tracks like the strong opener "She Is the Dark", the 11:22 minutes long"Edenbeast", the title track, "The Isis Script", and "Sear Me III" are all examples of My Dying Bride doing what they do best. Delivering beautiful, majestic, and sorrowfilled doom metal with great conviction and a burning passion.

The sound production is powerful and suits the music well. I´m taken places when I listen to this album and never do I have to worry that the illusion is broken by something that sits wrong in the mix or distracts from the listening experience. At the end of the day "The Light at the End of the World" may not be My Dying Bride´s strongest or most unique album release, but it´s a great album in it´s own right. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.
Phonebook Eater
6/10

"The Light At The End Of The World" is a decent return to a style that is more traditional of My Dying Bride.

My Dying Bride are one of the most well known and respected Doom Metal acts of all time. With such a high reputation, this band has managed to consistently release some great albums over the years, in particular their third album “Turn Loose The Swans” and it’s follow up, “The Angel and The Dark River”, both of these released in the mid nineties. After a few, more disappointing albums, the band return to shine, in the eyes of many fans, with 1999’s “The Light at The End Of The World”.

This release of theirs is quite unlike what they have ever done; this is thus far the darkest, most unsettling and disturbing album the band has released. The desperation of previous albums seem to be almost a joke compared to this extremely emotionally difficult album. The sound itself hasn’t drastically changed, but there is a more frequent use of subtle synthesizers, more extreme vocals (which seem to be more Black Metal influenced this time around), and a bit faster-paced melodies. While it may not be the Doomiest album of the band, it is the grimmest and most pessimistic, despite only slight stylistic changes.

The concepts brought up are not estranged to other Doom Metal material, nor to other My Dying Bride lyrics: pain, suffering, revenge, hopelessness, and quite a few religious themes are what the lyrics portray, and there are some interesting stories depicted too; in the title track, the story is of a man who is forced to guard an everlastingly deserted sea from a lighthouse on an isolated island. He begs his divinity for one night only with his woman, which he does get; but the following day, he will stay eternally in solitude on the island, without ever seeing a man or woman. The lyrics of the other songs are not as epic, but a couple still have an intriguing nature: “She Is The Dark” incarnates deceit and pain into a woman, while “Edenbeast” is about a feast of sin that takes place in Eden, possibly a metaphor of the presence of corruption and greed in the most unexpected places.

The songs on this release are extremely evocative, especially in the first half of the album; songs like “She Is The Dark” and “Edenbeast”, other than having dark, haunting melodies, also bring to the listener the feeling of being in front of an abandoned, dark plain, where man’s sins and defects are laid down and exposed. However, it is sad to see that some of the songs, during the second half of the album, are not nearly as powerful as they should: “Christliar” has an interesting structure, but does not give any emotional impact whatsoever, just like the compressed intensity of “The Fever Sea”, the title track (despite it’s majestic lyrics) or “Into The Lake Of Ghosts”. They are not really bad tracks, they simply aren’t able to accomplish the task (that is admittedly hard to do) to stay as haunting as the emotional concepts in the lyrics.

“The Light At The End Of The World” is a unique album for My Dying Bride, being also their first album, after those more experimental albums preceding it, to return to the more traditional style. However, this return isn’t as successful as I would have liked; “The Dreadful Hours”, the following album, will have done the job in a much more satisfactory way.
Conor Fynes
'The Light At The End Of The World' - My Dying Bride (8/10)

Doom is alive. After '34.788% Complete', My Dying Bride had raised some eyebrows, with some fans even being led to believe that the band had finally lost their marbles. What better thing for the band to do then, than to return to what they did best, being epic hymns of emotionally powerful gothic doom metal. 'The Light At The End Of The World' could be said to be an album where the band tries to give their fans more of what they want, but they certainly have not sold out. Instead of the total return to form that some fans were expecting with this album, there is a more melodic vibe on the album, without losing any of the sense of despair that they so expertly crafted with their early material.

The title track from 'The Light At The End Of The World' was the first thing I had ever heard from My Dying Bride, and I will say with conviction that it is still my most beloved track by them to date. Although there are quite a few other excellent pieces on the album, the title track here is on another level altogether, while still presenting everything that the album represents. There are doomy riffs and highly melodic playing on the lower register of the guitar, brooding drums and symphonic keyboards to add a sense of added eerieness, class, and atmosphere. Leading this sombre mix are Aaron Stainthorpe's clean vocals, which- quite like the guitars- are in a lower register, and full of melancholic sadness. The lyrics reflect the feel of the music naturally, and with the title track, it paints a devastating psychological fantasy of a man tending a lighthouse, completely alone. He is given the chance from a god to see his lost love for a single night again, only to find she has disappeared once again in the morning. It is a fairly simple story, but the way it is told through the music makes it one of the greatest love stories i have ever heard.

The other tracks here are admittedly less powerful for me after having developed such a strong connection to that one piece, but there are plenty of great things here. 'Edenbeast', 'Sear Me III' and 'The Isis Script' are all songs that also stand out, and while the songwriting is something that I would come to expect from My Dying Bride, it is done beautifully. It should be mentioned though that the songwriting is not perfectly consistent, with tracks like 'Christliar' feeling a little recycled and underwhelming, if only for the fact that it pales in the greatness of the other things that the album offers. One thing that could have been changed here however is the length of the album. In general, I would tend to favour brevity rather than something being too long, and due to the fact that most of the music here keeps the melancholic downtempo metal fairly stable in style, it can tend to feel overdrawn, even if there is good quality in the music all the way through. Besides that, 'The Light At The End Of The World' is a fantastic album for My Dying Bride, and even for its title track alone, I would recommend it to any lover of melancholic, yet heavy music.

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