What the hell has happened to My Dying Bride? Gone are the days of profoundly doomy melancholy with a really heavy sound, hello to the times of industrial influences and singing, at times, like GGFH's Ghost. It's horrible! Even the guitar sound disagrees with me, the lyrics seem to have lost the profound ingredient they used to have before. I sense influences of Fields of the Nephilim (not too bad) and GGFH as well as Scorn. My god, there's even "na na na na na na na" and "yeah yeah" bits in the lyrics. Who put the valium in Aaron's drink?

It is only because at one or two rare instances the brilliance of the old My Dying Bride comes shining through - like the chorus of "Apocalypse Woman" and parts of "Under Your Wings and Into Your Arms" - that it gets more than "one star". I am tempted to say that My Dying Bride are 34.788% of what they used to be.

That was after the first one or two listens. I felt betrayed, abhorred. How could my favourite doom band have moved into directions I didn't want them to move?

And then the album started to grow on me. Enough, I warrant, to make some further remarks on the subject of "34.788%...Complete".

My main gripe with the album is still what has probably been a need to experiment. Aaron's vocals on "The Whore the Cook and the Mother" sound too much like GGFH's Ghost to me. Still, once you forget about the vocals you have a pretty excellent track that keeps on haunting your mind. Still, perhaps the middle section should have been kept a tad shorter so that some of the momentum would have been preserved. What follows then are two rather nondescriptive tracks, "The Stance of Evander Sinque" and "Der Uberlebende". They don't jump out and grab you by the throat like some My Dying Bride tracks do, however. For My Dying Bride, they seem below par. Number four, "Heroin Chic", is by far the worst track I've ever heard in months, with the alternative Scorn influences I mentioned earlier, positively uninspired and with highly repetitive lyrics. Perhaps the whole idea is to convey the general insanity of herion addiction (which it does), but I don't like the result. It's horrendous. After "Herion Chic" we get another good track, "Apocalypse Woman", especially the section that I guess is the chorus. This song is enriched quite a lot by subtle use of synthesizers and sampled background sounds - an experiment well succeeded. "Base Level Erotica", up next, is another one of those nondescriptive tracks. The closer, "Under Your Wings..." is another fine track, though.

My first reaction after listening to the album was, as you could read, not too good. As a matter of fact I told some friends they could buy the album off me if they could digest it. By now, however, I have come to recognise it as an album with its merits, although I still maintain that My Dying Bride is nowhere close to where they used to be. Perhaps I'll write a sequel to this review after another couple of dozen listens...



Written October 1998


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