My Dying Bride - _A Line of Deathless Kings_
(Peaceville, 2006)
by: Pedro Azevedo (7.5 out of 10)
With cover art full of armoured undead warriors that could be mistaken for some epic-inclined death or black metal album, a title such as _A Line of Deathless Kings_, and an opening track called "To Remain Tombless", My Dying Bride manage to create some sense of anticipation on the listener with this new full-length. It all suggests a theme running through the album, a different concept for the band to tackle and reflect in their music on this follow-up to 2004's _Songs of Darkness, Words of Light_. Truth be told, _SoD,WoL_ was a very competent album in its own right, but as far as I am concerned it failed to withstand the test of time -- in other words, I have rarely felt like going back to it for another spin, which means I probably overrated it a bit at the time. It follows that some variation in their approach, if well thought out and interesting (i.e., unlike _34.788%_, in my case), could well propel _A Line of Deathless Kings_ from being just another really competent but ultimately for the most part forgettable album in the context of MDB's stellar discography.

If you can almost imagine Aaron Stainthorpe playing Aragorn in a doom version of "The Lord of the Rings" by now, then forget about it. As it turns out, I'm left with the feeling that cover art and album title were all just a sleight of hand or an afterthought for the most part, as the main change here seems to be that there is rather more Bride and rather less Dying in this album. You only need look at song titles like "L'Amour Detruit", "I Cannot Be Loved" or "Love's Intolerable Pain" to find that the theme may be somewhat different from what you expected initially; but whatever the theme, I find it appalling that MDB can't come up with better song titles than the cheesy "Thy Raven Wings", "One of Beauty's Daughters" or "The Blood, the Wine, the Roses". Then again, with a promo sheet that quotes the HIM frontman (and him alone) on his admiration for MDB, maybe I shouldn't be so surprised. Perhaps the new Slayer album had a quote from an Evanescence guitarist and I just missed it -- or maybe the next MDB will. But what am I rambling on about? That's hardly a concern for the listener, and lame song titles do not a bad album make, so let's concentrate on the music instead.

Make no mistake on the music front: predictably, My Dying Bride have lost none of their skill. Whatever may be said about this album, _A Line of Deathless Kings_ is impeccably written and executed, with the confidence of a genre-defining band. I find the production surprisingly underwhelming, but this is not an album where MDB try to make an impact with huge riffs. On the contrary, Aaron employs a rather polished version and less plaintive of his clean singing throughout, bringing to mind his style on _Like Gods of the Sun_. You won't really find dramatic plunges into the darkness on this one, with the death growls showing up only three times, but you will find a lot of work in accentuating the vocals in different ways and adding various instrumental touches (e.g. the ending of "L'Amour Detruit", the beginning of "I Cannot Be Loved" and the sections near the growls and the spoken vocals on "Love's Intolerable Pain").

While the new drummer takes a secondary role, the riffs are very much what you might expect of My Dying Bride on a reasonably relaxed mode -- it's certainly not wrist-slashing stuff though, and there aren't any demonic surges either. It all does flow nicely though, and there's no denying the riffs and vocals are all well done, albeit the really outstanding passages are disappointingly few. The most memorable riff can be found on "And I Walk With Them", which is perhaps the most distinguishable track, along with "Love's Intolerable Pain"; "Deeper Down" can certainly also be included in that lot, but its inclusion in the recently released EP of the same name devalues it in this context to some extent.

In other words, the album has little that can be criticized objectively, but it simply fails to reach the heights one always expects of a band like My Dying Bride -- let alone challenge _The Dreadful Hours_, which remains clearly the best they have done since the days of _Turn Loose the Swans_ and _The Angel and the Dark River_. Enjoyable but neither gripping nor very inspired, _A Line of Deathless Kings_ is a perfectly decent addition to MDB's discography, but it is not among the most relevant they have made.

[Chris Flaaten: "My Dying Bride disappointed me with their previous album, but _The Dreadful Hours_ of course represented some quite daunting shoes to fill. I had not imagined that they would disappoint me even more this time, though. This album is to their previous one as that one was to _TDH_. My Dying Bride as of 2006 seem completely without edge. Another word for that is dull, and this is indeed a dull album. For the first time since _34.788%_ I find I have to force myself to give it another try, and that's just not how it should be with one of your favourite bands. There are some nice harmonies and atmospheres, but it all blends together and there are no riffs or entire songs that stand out. The only memorable moment for me is Aaron's singing on the last half of "And I Walk With Them": breathtaking, but not enough to make up for the utter lack of edge and memorable songs and riffs. This album does not seem as dark as we've come to know and love MDB either. Major let-down, especially after the "Child of Eternity" track from the EP seemed so promising."]

Contact: http://www.mydyingbride.org

(article published 10/23/2006)


CHATS
7/3/2002 P Azevedo My Dying Bride: Thus Spake the Wretched
1/14/2002 A Bromley My Dying Bride: The Hand of Doom
12/9/1999 P Azevedo My Dying Bride: The Bride Returns to the Bleak Rainy Moors
11/19/1998 P Azevedo My Dying Bride: The Bride No Longer Wears Black
4/9/1997 A Bromley My Dying Bride: Behold the Bride
3/14/1996 A Bromley My Dying Bride: Dying With Pride
ALBUMS
11/27/2012 P Azevedo 8.5 My Dying Bride - A Map of All Our Failures
6/15/2009 K Sarampalis 6.5 My Dying Bride - For Lies I Sire
7/13/2008 P Azevedo 7 My Dying Bride - An Ode to Woe
9/26/2006 P Azevedo 7.5 My Dying Bride - Deeper Down EP
12/17/2005 Q Kalis My Dying Bride - Anti-Diluvian Chronicles
10/10/2005 P Azevedo 9 My Dying Bride - Sinamorata DVD
3/23/2004 P Azevedo 9 My Dying Bride - Songs of Darkness, Words of Light
7/3/2002 P Azevedo 9.5 / 9 My Dying Bride - For Darkest Eyes DVD
Anathema - A Vision of a Dying Embrace DVD
7/3/2002 P Azevedo 10 My Dying Bride - The Voice of the Wretched
10/19/2001 P Azevedo 9 My Dying Bride - The Dreadful Hours
8/12/2001 P Azevedo 8.5 My Dying Bride - Meisterwerk II
1/10/2001 P Azevedo 8 My Dying Bride - Meisterwerk I
12/9/1999 P Azevedo 9 My Dying Bride - The Light at the End of the World
11/19/1998 P Azevedo 7 My Dying Bride - 34.788%... Complete
2/4/1997 P Azevedo 10 My Dying Bride - Like Gods of the Sun
3/14/1996 A Bromley 8 My Dying Bride - The Angel and the Dark River
GIGS
7/3/2002 P Azevedo My Dying Bride / Mysterium Catharsis in Doom
3/13/2001 V Anderson My Dying Bride / Katatonia / Soundisciples / Beyond Dawn / Thine The Snow in Their Hearts
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