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My Dying Bride - As The Flower Withers CD (album) cover

AS THE FLOWER WITHERS

My Dying Bride

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal


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4 stars This, the debut album from My Dying Bride set a new standard in doom metal. Together with Candlemass, Anathema and Paradise Lost; My Dying Bride kickstarted doom metal again. Of these three bands, Candlemass were more a Black Sabbath clone, Anathema ventured into indie rock and Paradise Lost went off with a major label and lost their way. Only My Dying Bride ventured into the nomans land between symphonic prog and doom metal............ and made this land into their own.

For me; My Dying Bride is a crossover between symphonic prog and doom metal. This album proves it. The songs here is basically very slow and symphonic. That's symphonic in the vein of the classic music composers Richard Wagner and Gustav Mahler. Both of them composed very heavy, complex classic music. Richard Wagner's opera music is regarded as the forerunner to bands like Black Sabbath and My Dying Bride. Therein and from Gustav Mahler's classical music lays the foundation stones of this album.

Beyond a growling vocal lays some symphonic doom dirge epics. This is music as happy as a suicidal depression. It is based on the darkness of our souls. No devil, just depression. From this, My Dying Bride both creates gloomy scenarios and ethereal doom. The songs are both long and slightly complex. The average song length is around seven minutes with one song stretching it's darkness to thirteen minutes. The music is not beautiful. Neither is it ugly. This music is a new musical concept for most of you, although those of you familiar to Black Sabbath, Nick Cave and Gustav Mahler may be in a familiar territory. This is slow, heavy music and the quality is good throughout. It has it's flaws, but they are rather minor. I regard it as a good follow up to Black Sabbath's debut album and one for the darkened nights in my dungeon.

4 stars

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Send comments to toroddfuglesteg (BETA) | Report this review (#258685)
Posted Thursday, December 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars My Dying Bride are an interesting addition to Prog Archives. Evidently not one that goes without debate, but it isn't so difficult to defend that they have their place here. For sure, they are worthy of your attention for more reasons then just for the mutilated naked ladies on their album covers.

Now this particular album might be an acquired taste for prog fans, this is Doomsday's soundtrack, and as you might expect from such an event, there's nothing here that will make you feel comfortable about it. It's oppressive, heavy, droning and nihilistic. But there are elements that hint at an artistic vision that reaches far beyond normal metal limitations. The violin for instance adds an interesting angle to this dark well of depression, the keyboards add a symphonic flavour and most of all the song writing is ambitious and often adventurous, alternating between slow dirges and fast blast beats.

After the classical romantic intro that reminds me of the late romantic German composers, Sear Me kicks off this doom beast with a solemn drum pace and beautiful lyrical guitar leads complemented by violins. It's a great harmonious and melodic start of a crushing track. Heavily reverbed death vocals foretell that this album won't be an easy ride. And indeed, after a little under three minutes, MDB shift the gear to a blast beat infested death metal attack. Aaron spews out Latin lyrics with a vile hate and disgust. This thunderous track closes off by repeating the opening theme.

The Forever People is another insanely intense head-banging doom fest. The band plays tightly through the uncompromising material. MDB is a skilled unit, nothing like the rather sloppy performances on the first albums of Anathema and Paradise Lost.

15 minutes in and I'm completely won over into this filthy decadence. But then comes the unworldly beauty of The Bitterness and the Breavement, a spine-chilling violin leads through this tormented doom sludge. The guitars are tuned down to levels where melody becomes barely audible; the pace is so slow that the repeating pattern becomes hard to follow. Halfway in, they give the final blow to the last remainders of your resistance against so much negativism. A short flare of deadly chromatic riffing and Aaron's inhuman throat are sure to leave you alone and bewildered amidst the ruins of civilisation. But then comes that romantic violin theme again, almost teasing us with hope that there is life after death.

I'll better leave the three remaining tracks for someone else to dissect into their smallest possible pieces. Suffice to say that Vast Choirs has a loose structure that can not be discarded for being just metal. This is post-metal, assembling an entirely new kind of music out of the remains of what one was heavy metal. The Return of the Beautiful goes a step further into deconstructing traditional rock structures. Melody and recognizable repeating patterns give way to a raw, primitive and darkest emotion. Again, MDB adds that symphonic flavour with a sad lyrical theme on something that sounds like a horn. Erotic Literature ends on a majestic, almost heroic war marching pace.

Rating this album makes no sense. This music can as easily serve as a showcase for one star abomination as it can be justified as 'essential in any music collection', if only as a testimony of a musical journey into to the darkest and most foul corners of the human soul.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#260930)
Posted Friday, January 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
UMUR
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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars As The Flower Withers is the debut full-length studio album by UK doom/ death metal act My Dying Bride. The band had been signed to the Peaceville Records label on the grounds of their now rare God Is Alone (1991) EP and subsequently released the classic Symphonaire Infernus et Spera Empyrium EP in 1992. As The Flower Withers would see My Dying Bride proving that they had what it took to make a full album of quality material.

I remember listening to As The Flower Withers with a friend in his room back in 1992. He had the album on LP and I was imidiately sold to the extremely heavy, dark and melancholic music that hit me when he put that LP on. I got a cassette copy I listened to for a couple of months until I had money enough to buy my own copy ( yep I went to secondary school in those days and the purchase of just one album meant hard work). It was actually one of my very first ( if not the first) CD purchases as I had been a vinyl only man ( well boy to be exact) up until then. So there´s kind of a nostalgic feeling that clings to this CD for me.

The music on the album is doom/ death metal. The foundation of extremely heavy distorted guitars and a slow and heavy rythm section is complimented by growling vocals and the excellent choice of adding a violin to some of the songs. The atmosphere is gloomy and melancholic and Aaron Stainthorpe´s poetic lyrics really add to the dark experience ( some might find them pretentious but I think they suit the music well). As it turns out the album is a bit of a mixed bag for me though. There are 7 tracks on the album and only 4 of them really make my blood boil. The classical intro track Silent Dance is the perfect entrance to the album. Just beautiful. Then comes Sear Me which is a classic in My Dying Bride´s discography. It´s such an epic and majestic track that one. I still get goosebumps everytime I listen to that song. The Forever People follows and it´s with songs like this that the album fails to captivate me. It´s a pretty standard mid-paced death metal track and if I want to listen to something like that I can think of a dozen other bands who write and play that type of music much more convincingly. The two other tracks in this vein on the album are Erotic Literature and Vast Choirs. The latter mentioned also appeared in a premature version on the Towards the Sinister (1990) demo. I´m not sure but I seem to remember that Erotic Literature was a CD bonus track which didn´t appear on the original LP. Don´t hang me if it´s wrong though. None of the three more regular doom/ death metal tracks are bad but they are sub par to the rest of the songs on the album. Out of the 7 tracks on the album I guess I only lack to mention The Bitterness & The Bereavement and The Return Of The Beautiful. In addition to Sear Me those two are the highlights on the album. Crushingly heavy, dark, melancholic and epic sounding doom/ death metal tracks. And again that violin just puts the icing on the cake.

The production is good for the time. Heavy and dark.

I´m a bit biased towards As The Flower Withers because of the three sub par tracks and I can´t bring myself to give the full 4 star rating here even though I greatly enjoy the rest of the album. So for now a 3.5 star rating will do ( I might upgrade this to a 4 star rating in time). It´s certainly a classic album but not exactly a flawless one when I listen to it with today´s ears.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#263881)
Posted Tuesday, February 02, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Sothoth
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Prog Metal Team
3 stars Back in 1992, hearing such a bleak, sad and beautiful intro track like Silent Dance would cause me to assume one thing...that I'm about to be bombarded with blastbeats, guitars roaring in low C and ogres growling about feasting on humans. A good portion of death metal albums had that sort of "intro" situation going on:

Intro starts..."wow this sounds like it's going to be a dark gothic ambient album." Intro ends, death metal starts..."Whoa! Never saw that coming...this is a really loud album after all!"

This album genuinely surprised me in that the first 'main' song, Sear Me, starts off with a sluggish drum beat before morose guitar melodies shamble in to join the sorrow. The vocals are pretty much death growls throughout the album, and there are some blastbeats found periodically in some of these tracks, including Sear Me. The band was considered part of a doom/goth metal revival, but personally I would consider this particular effort more of an avante garde death metal album due to retaining many aspects of typical death metal while adding a lot of strange and interesting things to the mix.

The use of violins, keyboards and even woodwinds really helps provide an extra layer of atmosphere during the slower sections, particularly that oboe in The Return Of The Beautiful which just sounds utterly suicidal and depressed. The lyrics are better written than the vast majority of other death metal lyrics in the early 90s, which really isn't saying much, but it does add to the avante garde effect.

There's variety to these compositions and they are structured quite well, although a couple of 'fast drumming parts' seemed added just to remind the listener that My Dying Bride is still a death metal band. The Forever People is a straight up death metal song which was kind of a cool bridge between the gloomier Sear Me and the apt titled The Bitterness & The Bereavement.

It's definitely a noteworthy album as it helped kickstart a whole new generation of doom metal escapades, although with Aaron primarily just growling throughout this album, it's more pf an acquired taste than some of their later offerings where 'clean' singing becomes the dominant voice of the material.

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Send comments to Prog Sothoth (BETA) | Report this review (#438799)
Posted Monday, April 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpää
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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Perhaps the most classic album of the goth romanticed metal group, and was also very much played at the teenage parties I went passing out. The beginning's cinematopic intro gives powerful first impression, and sets wonderful tone for the upcoming songs. The most successful compositions like the iconic "Sear Me" really reach fine spheres of grandiose power, shimmering from melodically solemn themes, repeated with hypnotic power on long structured compositions. "The Return of The Beautiful" stands as the most convincing song of the album, exploring furthest the possibilities on song writing, adventuring on catacombs of aural moods, and also implementing yet deeper violins, synths and audio effects as supporting elements enhancing the narrative characteristics of the composition. The overall rhythmic solutions or instrumental arrangements are not very complex, guitar driven and partly in Latin growled pieces focusing mostly to atmospherics. Very slow and vast riff swamps find fine dynamic counterparts from more rapid sequences. With the faster drive the band manages to conjure pleasant catalysts for catharsis also from slightly lesser magnificent tunes, like on "Forever People" or "Erotic Literature". Most possibly due my own age I have grown to like these late 80's & early 90's heavy metal tones on the sounds, and growing up with Carcass, Napalm Death, Sepultura, Autopsy and the other rock'n'roll groups for the depression era suburb kids allows this larger capacity of enjoyment. There are few poorer moments on the album lowering slightly my overall appreciation for this groundbreaking record. Some tracks like "Vast Choirs" has in my opinion lost some rawness and originality from the original demo take, so I consider that always working of some things further won't make the outcome appear better. But on the whole I believe the work here lead towards yet more successful long-player album following this record.

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Send comments to Eetu Pellonpää (BETA) | Report this review (#872762)
Posted Friday, December 07, 2012 | Review Permalink

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