MY DYING BRIDE — The Light at the End of the World (review)

MY DYING BRIDE — The Light at the End of the World album cover Album · 1999 · Death-Doom Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
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.
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