My Dying Bride, along with Paradise Lost and Anathema, formed the unholy triumvirate of ‘90s melancholy doom and created a bridge from the old masters to the modern warriors with swathes of melody, goth-drenched vocals, and grave-like grooves a mile wide. All three bands would undergo various changes in personnel and direction, but the ‘Brides have, for the most part, stayed their course.
It’s been five years since we were entranced by Feel The Misery, an album that, whilst not as game-changing as 2012’s A Map Of All Our Failures, was a Tim Burton-esque valentine from a classic band to its fans. What immediately sets this new album apart from everything before is the setting under which it was written and recorded – singer Aaron Stanthorpe’s daughter was diagnosed with cancer in 2017, a catastrophic situation for anyone to face, and one that required a way to try and deal with it. The Ghost Of Orion was that much-needed therapy, and the record oozes with sentiment, emotion, and raw humanity.
All of the My Dying Bride colours are vivid on the palette, with large, crushing guitars, huge layers of atmospheric choirs, dark corridors of shadowy pleasures, and an overwhelming gothic doom metal sheen that can level whole buildings. But the true magic is buried in the lyrics which, as you would imagine, revolve heavily around Stanthorpe’s relationship with his daughter and having to deal with watching her go through this vile ordeal. Songs such as “Your Broken Shore” and “Tired Of Tears” will break your heart with the exposed, tender emotions that are so fucking real and open that it can be difficult to listen to at times. That’s not to say that the eight long, epic songs are in any way unlistenable – this record is simply a brazen human cry to the sky that most of us have faced at one time or another, and it’s never an easy process. Mortality is the main theme, as it is in life.
It’s a beautiful, dark, windswept collection of songs written and performed with care, precision, and devotion to both the legacy of the classic band and to the members as a family of musicians. To try and describe the music any further would rob you of the majesty and rolling boil of feelings that emerge when listening, and this is an extremely personal album that will require the listener’s full attention. Fortunately, Stanthorpe’s child is now in remission and looks to be in the clear, and this will also colour how you listen to the songs as made when things were at their darkest.
My Dying Bride (with whom we also recently spoke) has knocked this one clear out of the park by simply being themselves and working together to collectively pull themselves out of one of life’s most impossible situations, and making exquisite music by doing so. The Ghost of Orion will more than likely change either you or how you perceive the world and those closest to you, and that, surely, is one of the greatest gifts of music.
The Ghost of Orion Track Listing:
1. Your Broken Shore
2. To Outlive The Gods
3. Tired Of Tears
4. The Solace
5. The Long Black Land
6. The Ghost Of Orion
7. The Old Earth
8. Your Woven Shore
Run Time: 57 minutes
Release Date: March 6, 2020
Record Label: Nuclear Blast Records