When it comes to the purity of a sub-genre of Heavy Metal music, there are few bands as dedicated as West Yorkshire veterans My Dying Bride. Coming from the old guard of doom, their expansive sound has remained steadfast. On Friday, November 20, 2020, they release Macabre Cabaret, a three-song EP on Nuclear Blast Records.
Fans of their gothic-flavored, sweet misery will find this EP a satisfying way to conclude one of the most tumultuous years in any of our memories. Seeing as how they released The Ghost of Orion full-length album at the beginning of humanity’s troubles back in March, this is a tragic and fitting bookend to the year.
The perfect soundtrack to late autumn walks in the local cemetery, the title track is a florid and massive ode reminiscent of their early years. Stainthorpe’s vocals are a bit in the background, with church-organ keys underpinning their signature guitar sound. Nothing brief or light-hearted here, as the song flows like dark water beneath an old bridge, but the listener is lulled – not to boredom – but deep within themselves and their deepest heart.
“A Purse of Gold and Stars” provides a neat counterpoint to the grandiosity of the opening track. EP’s should hit hard, each according to the style of music being purported. My Dying Bride and their sorrowful poetry have become an institution, and here it is captured in stunning authenticity. Minimal, minor keys and heart-rending cello illuminate spoken verse that could be the very timbre of the sundering of spirits. The back half of the song almost hits dungeon-synth territory; gorgeously climactic without losing its subtlety. This is, simply put, a beautiful composition to wrap oneself in over and over again. Very few loud Heavy Metal bands can make this sort of sonic diversion work this well.
And so the final new song, “A Secret Kiss” returns us to the vaults of the riff, as Hamish Glencross and Neil Blanchett cast tortured guitar tones out over both clean sung and ravening harsh vocals in turn. Another way in which My Dying Bride stands out over time is through the use of repetition, a repeated set of riffs becoming a pulse of its own. This is employed here, before the back half of the song picks up into something almost upbeat. A very cool ‘gang-vocal’ approach adds to the mystique of the song. My Dying Bride sees the second decade of the new millennium looking like a creative winning streak for sure, and this is good news for all metal fans. Cryptic Rock gives Macabre Cabaret 4.5 out of 5 stars.