About halfway through “Your Broken Shore,” the first new song by doom-metal firebrands My Dying Bride in five years, the band seems to experience a near breakdown. The only instrument left is Andrew Craighan’s guitar, sounding out like a trumpet until the drums kick back in. The moment is beautiful and a little hopeful but also heartbreaking all at once. It’s the true essence of My Dying Bride, a group that could rightfully claim to be metal’s most sorrowful band.
Judging from “Your Broken Shore,” which comes off the group’s upcoming The Ghost of Orion LP, the group has made it a point to return to that original spark, even though Craighan and vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe are the only original members. The song’s morose, stacked guitar riff and Stainthorpe’s mixture of gothic moans and death-metal growls recall My Dying Bride’s early high-water marks like 1993’s Turn Loose the Swans and 1995’s The Angel and the Dark River. On those early releases, the group combined the gloom of Black Sabbath with the duskiness of Christian Death to make doom metal that was as emotional as it was sad and angry — a combo some of their peers never quite got right.
Stainthorpe’s Bram Stoker garb onstage and the group’s consistent use of violin may be a bit too fey for some headbangers, but it’s the band’s sense of drama that makes them able to sell moods like the one on “Your Broken Shore.” When Stainthorpe sings about being a “broken liar” or a line like “the doom of your broken shore, it washes over me,” you feel his words as much as you hear them, because of the way he becomes the character in the song. And when he growls, you feel his rage. But it’s the way that Craighan’s guitar seems to pull at those feelings and tease them out — the way they work together — that makes the song so compelling and moving.
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