Two mammoth records and an EP in two years suggest My Dying Bride aren’t short of ideas, and another extended play in the shape of The Manuscript certainly doesn’t dispel that. The basics are as you expect – it’s bleak, despondent, miserable and as many shades of dark as you can cram into 27 minutes. The specifics are less run-of-the-mill, however.
The four tracks share subtly different personalities; A Pale Shroud Of Longing flits between gentle, quavering lament and full-bore riff crush that speaks of active grief. But while Var Gud Over Er may begin in growl and chug, it gradually wanders into more textured terrain, refrains ending at unexpected moments and adding a greater sense of finality that speaks of resigned loss.
The opening title track’s classic Peaceville feel suggests the usual gloom, but there’s a growing resilience as it flows, and it’s counterbalanced by the thorough hopelessness of Only Tears To Replace Her With at the end. The Manuscript gives My Dying Bride plenty of time (it’s only 90 seconds shorter than Reign In Blood, after all) to set you up, knock you down and drown you in despair yet again. More exquisite anguish from the Yorkshire veterans.