Album review: My Dying Bride – A Mortal Binding

Yorkshire doom icons My Dying Bride continue the misery business, and business is still pretty good…

Album review: My Dying Bride – A Mortal Binding
Nick Ruskell

Having just apparently cancelled all of their planned shows for 2024, one might ask: is everything alright with My Dying Bride? The same question is one that’s often come up while listening to the Yorkshire doom champs’ music. Over the past 34 years and 13 albums, they’ve done music in many colours, so long as it’s grey and miserable. And a good job, too. Whether in the throes of genuine despair, or leaning into an almost comedic level of grumpiness, they’ve made an artform of winding metal and misery around one another to staggering, dramatic, mournful, often inspired effect.

A Mortal Binding finds them in more traditional ground than they’ve sometimes trodden, built on a solid foundation of slow, melodic doom riffs, dramatic sweeps and heartbroken violin, as singer Aaron Stainthorpe sounding like a man trying to unknot the entire universe while lost on a rainy moor. A Starving Heart and the 11-minute The Apocalyptist trudge along in a weirdly enjoyable manner, while Crushed Embers is almost comedic in its dedication to gloom, and all the better for it. As far as more banging stuff goes, opener Her Dominion and follow-up track Thornwyck Hymn lead with a tad more aggression, while Andy Craighan’s riffs on Unthroned Creed are firmly from the church of Candlemass.

Throughout, the gothic tragedy of the album’s rumination on love – the idea of two people being so in love that only, and ultimately, death separates them – looms large, as does Aaron’s additional thoughts on, “The retirement of humanity into dust, the loss of great lovers, the passing of deep joy and the revelation that all we thought we had, is merely sand falling through our fingers.”

After so long, My Dying Bride remain a byword for grief in sonic form. Is everything alright? Hopefully. But it’s also reassuring that, even if there's little surprise and a strong sense of familiarity this time around, they continue to feel the doom this hard so long into their service.

Verdict: 3/5

For fans of: Paradise Lost, Alcest, Ahab

A Mortal Binding is released on April 19 via Nuclear Blast

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