My Dying Bride
Symphonaire Infernus Et Spera Empyrium(Peaceville - 1991)
Their first 'official' release - a 20 minute, 3-song EP. The first long track starts with a sorrowful intro made up of a viola and harpsichord, then shifts into a heavy doomdeath sound. Mostly moody and very heavy riffing, sometimes accompanied by a pain-filled violin, then abruptly changing into a brutal and fast death sound. The vocals are typical death growls and although they are good, they aren't as powerful as other vocalists in the death genre. The second track is pure brutal death that is practically a grindcore song - primitive, brutal and mostly very fast. The third song moves to slower and heavier riffing but still uses brutal death sections and is very primitive. Overall their most brutal release by far, and highly unpolished. Not much here for me personally since the music doesn't do all that much, and if I am in the mood for brutal death, I would find something else to put on with more punch and technicality to it.
As the Flower Withers(Peaceville - 1992)
The first full release by these masters of depressing doom metal, only this one is pure doomdeath with many brutal death elements - something they discarded later on. The album starts with a dark keyboard introduction, heavy and moody, thus setting the atmosphere nicely. Then comes a typical heavy riff with a deeply sorrowful melody - an MDB trademark. The song changes soon however, shifting into some fast death metal then back to very slow and heavy doom. The whole album continues this way, varying the tempo with usually long and non standard song structures. The third track is almost a pure death metal song with furious yet still moody riffing. Guitar feedback is often used for a screechy wailing effect and even on this debut we can hear some superb usage of sorrowful violins on a couple of tracks. Vocals are all death growls of a slightly weaker kind yet appropriate for this moodier kind of music (death metal should be more brutal). This album plods along at a very heavy pace, its weight making even the air cumbersome. There is hardly any dreamy sadness and sad melodies that sweep you off your feet here, this is a heavy piece of work that demands concentration and a certain mood to appreciate. Very good and recommended, but hard to swallow at times. I personally prefer their later releases.
The Thrash of Naked Limbs(Peaceville - 1993)
Another three song EP, this time with a varied sound. The first track is like a missing link between the previous and next albums. Almost pure doom, very heavy guitar riffs, some sorrowful melody and violins, and all death growls - another great song (although nothing new). The second song is a dark atmospheric 6 minute track with an eerie sound - mostly keyboards, effects and soft, mood-setting, 'medieval' percussion. The third song is a throwback to their doomdeath days with alternating brutal and heavy sections. Another good release but for interested fans only.
Turn Loose the Swans(Peaceville - 1993)
On this LP, they discarded all their death elements and went towards a more gothic doom. I would describe this album as a heavier version of The Angel and the Dark River having the long tracks, gothic sound and a lot of violin. But otherwise, a quarter of the vocals are death growls (a little weak but good), and there is a much bigger emphasis on heavy doom guitars rather than on acoustics and oppressive silence, making this one slightly more aggressive. Less unique but still very much My Dying Bride, this album is a gothic/doom piece of art that only takes a listen or two to absorb. Miserable, gothic-heavy and mostly slow, it changes often enough to keep you interested and moody all the way through. The first track consists of only a piano, violin and far-away bass clean vocals. While it is a good song, it gets slightly boring towards the end and should have been shortened to about 3-4 minutes. The last track (Black God) is a dying sorrow-filled mood wept out of a violin, background synth and both female and spoken male vocals. Even though the female vocals here are horribly off tune, the effect of sitting at a death bed remains. Very recommended.
I Am the Bloody Earth(Peaceville - 1994)
Yet another three song EP, this time with a couple of surprises. The first track fits in between the first and second LPs, its sound mostly slow doom with heavy riffing accompanied by somewhat stronger death growls and violins. This one packs a lot of punch behind its sorrow - very good! The second track is a shocking industrial remade version of something that sounds vaguely familiar, perhaps from the second LP. Containing some techno tinges and even taken for what it is, it's not very exciting and is way too long at 8 minutes. The third track is a remix of 'The Crown of Sympathy' (Turn Loose the Swans) with only slight changes. The percussion was made stronger and has a slightly different sound, and some other edits and remixes were added to the song. The original flows much better, this one just sounds like they fiddled with the knobs and samples one day and experimented a little. Not much on this release to attract anyone other than a dedicated fan I'm afraid. However, you can get this and the previous two EP's all on one CD - released under the title of 'Trinity'.
The Angel and the Dark River(Peaceville - 1995)
A masterpiece of doom and heavy moods, and one of the most depressing albums ever made. Here MDB opt for even less brutality and heavy riffing and instead produce oppressive weight with slow dark tunes and much use of silence and long notes. There is still plenty of doom riffing with distorted, heavy guitars, but many new elements and arrangements make the album what it is. First we have the vocals: all clean, low and often breaking with sorrow. Then we have the use of acoustic guitar together with a heavy bass in some parts and tons of violins all over the album. Some parts are so slow they recall a record being played at the wrong speed. You may think that with all this weight and slow heaviness, the album would trudge along and bore your mind right into the ground, but the songs grab you down with them and are dynamically perfect, keeping you interested throughout and dominating your moods. Bass and drums are handled superbly, shifting often with the song and contributing a major part of the sound. One standout track is the first with one riff repeated throughout its 12 minute length. A work of genius with its hypnotic theme and atmospheric sections. Turn off the lights and you easily get completely lost in this one. This album is about heavy moods and depression and it creates these with incomparable talent. A must buy.
Like Gods of the Sun(Peaceville - 1996)
This time there aren't as many changes since their previous album except that they have gotten heavier again and made songs that are fuller and tighter. Take 'The Angel and the Dark River', add heavier riffing and remove the long drawn-out elements and some violins and you basically have this album. The clean, sorrowful vocals are the same however, as are the superb dynamics, but the moods here are much more aggressive comparatively. The weeping violins are still here, the gothic melodies and the depression as well. The arrangements are superb with a lot of variety and changes, and there is more emphasis on distorted guitars. The last track stands out, consisting of only miserable keyboards and violin with soft vocals, but otherwise this is a very consistent release. A mature and very solid album and extremely recommended.