MY DYING BRIDE — A Mortal Binding (review)

MY DYING BRIDE — A Mortal Binding album cover Album · 2024 · Doom Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
"A Mortal Binding" is the fifteenth full-length studio album by UK doom/death metal act My Dying Bride. The album was released through Nuclear Blast in April 2024. It´s the successor to "The Ghost of Orion" from March 2020. There have been a couple of lineup changes since the predecessor as guitarist Neil Blanchett has joined as the band´s second guitarist (he actually already joined in 2019 but didn´t perform on "The Ghost of Orion"), and drummer Jeff Singer has left and has been replaced by a returning Dan Mullins, who previously played with My Dying Bride in the 2007-2012 period.

It´s been quite a few years and albums since My Dying Bride released anything which surprised the fans of the band (the last time was with the release of "Evinta" in 2011), but My Dying Bride actually used to be (pre-2000) a pretty experimental death/doom metal act in terms of developing their music greatly between releases (the first five studio albums are quite different in sound and style), while still staying on the path of their trademark death/doom metal style. After 2000 they´ve released many high quality releases, but also a few less inspired ones. The latter are still quality releases, which could easily be other death/doom metal artists masterpieces, but when you set the standard as high as My Dying Bride have done throughout their great career, the fans also have very high expectations each time a new My Dying Bride album hits the streets.

"A Mortal Binding" is not one of the most unique nor is it one of the most adventurous My Dying Bride releases, and as a listener you get pretty much what you expect. So all the ingredients of a My Dying Bride album are in place. Lead vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe switching between death metal growling and darkly poetic goth tinged clean vocals, heavy doomy riffs and rhythms, atmosphere enhancing keyboards, and melancholic leads delivered by both guitars and violin. What "A Mortal Binding" does different than the last couple of releases is the focus on rhythm. My Dying Bride were always a relatively rhythmic death/doom metal act, but the return of Mullins has definitely pushed My Dying Bride in a more rhythm focused direction. So it´s not all just long droning power chords and slow minimalistic drumming.

The sound production is more raw, less polished, and more immediate than the last couple of releases, and at this point it´s a relief to hear that My Dying Bride still have a bit of grit in them. Opening track "Her Dominion" is the best example of that, as it´s a pretty heavy death metal track solely featuring growling vocals. Although other tracks on the album also feature death metal growling, "Her Dominion" is however a bit of the odd one out track on "A Mortal Binding", and I´d say the remaining tracks are more in line with what you´d expect from post-2000 My Dying Bride material. Highlights include "Thornwyck Hymn" and the 11:22 minutes long "The Apocalyptist", but as always My Dying Bride are impressive in terms consistency, and there´s nothing on this album, which isn´t quality material. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.
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