Earlier this year, we were treated to beautifully melancholic “The Ghost of Orion,” an album that features one of Aaron Stainthorpe’s best vocal performances and some excellent guitar melodies that take fans down on a trip through memory lane. Continuing the more mellow and sober feel of the album is MY DYING BRIDE’s recent EP, “Macabre Cabaret,” which was released on November 20th, 2020, via Nuclear Blast. This is the band’s first EP in almost seven years, as “The Manuscript” was released in May 2013.
Comprised of only three songs – “Macabre Cabaret,” “A Secret Kiss,” and “A Purse of Gold and Stars” – and with a playtime of almost 22 minutes, the EP offers brooding moments and crushing guitar riffs that are offset by delicate sonic soundscapes and emotive piano melodies. Gloomy organ and grave bass tones set up a dark mood from the start, a mood that gets darker as the title track progresses, with the vocals bringing about feelings of sorrow and despair. Mid-way, the song drops in intensity,leaving room for a bass melody to be heard over a choral arrangement. This section adds to the overall somber ambiance of the song but soon it picks up its pace again as guitars and drums are added into the fold again. There’s an ebb and flow dynamic to this track, as the same downcast feel from the beginning and the bass interlude are reprised a few more times throughout the song’s 11-minute runtime. The organ is increasingly more present as the song draws to its end, culminating in it dominating the last few seconds with what feels like a requiem for the lost. This is doom metal done right by one of the best bands in the business.
The next track, “A Secret Kiss,” introduces a more melancholy ambiance, ushered by a lone and ghostly guitar melody, before drums, bass, and vocals join in. Being a more guitar-centered song, Andrew Craighan and Neil Blanchett’s playing and tone really add texture to the music, as Aaron Stainthorpe’s vocals sound ethereal and melodic. This is almost like an exercise in minimalism, and a good one at that, as this track evokes feelings of misery and inner desolation from just the guitars and vocals. Rounding up the trio of songs is “A Purse of Gold and Stars,” a gloomy yet utterly beautiful piece where piano, violin, and vocals blend together into an elegy of longing and yearning. Again, a minimalistic composition of musical brilliance, where elegant spoken-word passages can be heard on a backdrop of ominous keys and haunting strings. As they say, “less is more” and to be able to create such a dark, yet compelling ambiance is a mark of superb musicianship.
It is always interesting to see what can be done without using a lot of distortion on the guitar or tones of choir arrangements and backing orchestrations. With “Macabre Cabaret,” MY DYING BRIDE managed to paint a desolate painting using nuances of fading greys, deep blacks, and sparking whites, by merging the doom and gothic aesthetics with ambient soundscapes and brooding moods. In short, this EP is a bleak sonic journey filled with moments of sublime beauty to soothe the soul.
Written by Andrea Crow
- Macabre Cabaret
- A Secret Kiss
- A Purse of Gold and Stars
Aaron Stainthorpe – Vocals
Andrew Craighan – Guitars
Neil Blanchett – Guitars
Lena Abé – Bass
Jeff Singer – Drums
Shaun Macgowan – Keyboards, Violin