Personnel: Dan Mullins (drums, percussion).
Audio Mixer: Andrew Craighan.
Recording information: Academy Studios Dewsbury (10/2014-03/2015).
My Dying Bride celebrate their 25th anniversary with Feel the Misery, their 13th studio album. It is a return of sorts, to a place or early inspiration: Academy Studios in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, the birthplace of such albums as Turn Loose the Swans and The Angel & the Dark River, where they defined their depressing, particularly British brand of doom metal. Original guitarist Calvin Robertshaw has also returned to the fold, replacing Hamish Glencross; this is his first appearance with MDB since 1999's The Light at the End of the World. Feel the Misery is drenched with more than an hour of beautifully written, bleak gothic heaviness. Guitarist Andrew Craighan wrote nearly all of the melodies here, returning to the feel of the '90s with modern production values. It was recorded by Dan Mullins -- who also plays drums -- and mixed by Mags and Craighan. Opening track and first single "And My Father Left Forever" is a showcase for the band's signature dual-guitar sonics and Aaron Stainthorpe's clean vocals. Each word is colored with oppressive sadness and hunger: "When I wake up/I want to see you/Bring me the life within you/I charge myself off your body/But in my arms/The darkness deepens.." "To Shiver in Empty Halls" is Robertshaw's sole writing contribution and it's killer. It commences with a slow, gothic, dual-axe riff accented by explosive double-bass drums and cymbals. Stainthorpe's lyrics, expressed in a dirty, growled echo in the spirit of poet Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleur Du Mal without quoting it: "Wickedness with beauty/Is the devil's hook baited/Darkness is loneliness/With shadows tall and grim/And histories in sin." The title cut weaves keyboards and Shaun MacGowan's strings head on into a death metal guitar attack. Stainthorpe's clean singing balances the tension, every syllable is articulated with defiance. The doomed-out "I Celebrate Your Skin" is ripe with unholy lust and emotional malevolence. The vocalist switches between clean and dirty vocals but the band walks a processional in its riffing and rhythms. Closer "Within a Sleeping Forest" is the perfect bookend. Synths and melodic guitars wind around one another above a skeletal snare and bass drum, with Lena Abe's bassline humming through the center of the mix. Stainthorpe's vocals rise with glacial slowness, they're alternately mournfully sad and clean and fierce and filthy with jealous rage. This doppelgänger seeks to possess the beloved at all costs -- including murder. The track's drama builds in force and tempo until it crashes to an abrupt close. Feel the Misery is the sound of a band inspired, revitalized, focused, and relevant. This album may have been a gift to the band itself after 25 years, but in the end, it is a significant one, not only for the band's fans but for anyone who enjoys classic doom metal. ~ Thom Jurek