We Are The Bloody Earth: MY DYING BRIDE - Macabre Cabaret Review

Within months of their most emotionally moving elegy yet, the British masters of gloom return with their first EP in nearly seven years.

Words by Tyson Tillotson (@tytilly):

It’s often a tough conversation to have with people when talking about bands that have been around for almost 30 years, especially a band with an almost indescribable impact on the underground and extreme music scenes and yet are still active and releasing consistently great records today. Who can you immediately think of off the top of your head? Some would say Metallica but let’s be honest here, the last time they really put out a semi-good record was in 1996, which would be, at the time of this writing, nearly 24 years ago. Some would chime in and say Tool. Yeah, Tool have been around almost that long but keep in mind about 13 years of that we’ve had to spend waiting for an album that amounted to little more than a light brushing of the arms rather than a full blown goose flesh sensation. In my book, only a couple of bands have really been able to go the distance without making hardly any major missteps artistically. One of those bands is MY DYING BRIDE.

If you’re into the metal scene at all, you pretty much know how important their legacy is to the worlds of death doom and gothic metal. Their near perfect quadruple run of records that started their career (As the Flower Withers, Turn Loose the Swans, The Angel & The Dark River, and Like Gods of the Sun) is one that forms a cornerstone for any band looking to create the most beautiful yet haunting gloom ridden music out there. Hell, their name alone inspires mental images of irrevocable romance and the mystery of death itself. They’ve forged a legacy and an aesthetic along with country mates Paradise Lost that simply cannot be ignored by any serious extreme music acolyte. They are, simply put, one of the most consistently enchanting groups out there. Their melding of pre-Messiah Candlemass, Dream Death, Into the Pandemonium-era Celtic Frost, Possessed, Dead Can Dance, and so many others is almost instantly recognizable. But when most people talk of this band, they seem only to mention their full length records. What many don’t know is that MY DYING BRIDE are just as gifted then and now of writing some truly world shaking extended plays.

Released only months before As the Flower Withers, Symphonaire Infernus Et Spera Empyrium, as well as the God is Alone/De Sade Soliloquay single, released in 1991. MY DYING BRIDE created a unique blend of doom metal, gothic melodrama and grinding death metal. While yes, this had been done before by bands like Paradise Lost, there was a more tangible sense of sophistication and grandiose spectacle that was absent from their compatriots tunes. It may have helped that MY DYING BRIDE were actually, although not officially at this stage, a sextet which included their secret weapon: violinist/keyboardist Martin Powell. This was easily the strength that set this band apart from so many others then and even now despite Powell’s departure in the mid 90’s.

After their debut, the group would strike gold yet again with their next masterful EP, and my personal favorite, The Thrash of Naked Limbs, which saw the light of day before the release of Turn Loose the Swans. At this point, Powell was a full-fledged member and the group hammered out some of their most interesting cuts to date, including the title track, the dark ambient showcase Le Cerf Malade and the crushing Gather Me Up Forever. Soon after, the group would release their third and final EP for 13 years, entitled I Am the Bloody Earth in 1996. This also had the distinction of being one of the final recorded outputs of Aaron Stainthorpe eschewing guttural vocals for the next couple of full lengths until 1999’s The Light at the End of the World.

In the intervening years, the band would release a few more records as well as a small handful of EP’s, namely 2009’s Bring Me Victory, 2011’s single song epic The Barghest O’Whitby, and 2013’s The Manuscript. With this, we arrive in 2020 with the newest EP entitled, Macabre Cabaret. So why do I bring up all of this information about their extended plays you may wonder? Well the honest truth is, I have always felt that MY DYING BRIDE on their full length records are a very different band than on their EP’s. Don’t get me wrong, they are damn near untouchable with everything they do, but there is some kind of inescapable magic that is littered across their extended plays. With this new offering coming only a few months after the titanic The Ghost of Orion, MY DYING BRIDE’s Macabre Cabaret continues the group’s legacy of masterful EP’s with some of the strongest songs in their long and storied career. Keep your tissue and loved one handy, you will need them for your eyes and for your soul to be comforted.