It's hard to imagine that after 2006's brilliant A Line of Deathless Kings, it took three long years for Great Britain's My Dying Bride to issue a studio follow-up. True, there was a great live offering in the interim in 2008's An Ode to Woe, but For Lies I Sire, the goth and doom metal outfit's ninth studio offering since 1990, showcases a rather startling evolution in the band's sound. While it's true that A Line of Deathless Kings was brutally gloomy and depressing, it only pointed the way toward the shades and shadows of loss and darkness found here. Nearly 20 years after the band's inception, vocalist Aaron Stainthope is singing better than ever, and his lyrics are beautifully poetic and streamlined. Gone are the wordy tomes of the early years, replaced by the pointed, poignant, grief-stricken, utterly lost reflections of hopelessness and despair, the kind that come from the human heart rather than the goth music scene. Musically, the riffs have been cut to the bone as well. While the Sabbath-styled guitar and basslines are still there, they've become simpler, more straightforward, and textured with a lush yet devastatingly effective layer of violins. It's there in the reflections on ruined tenderness that inaugurate "My Body, A Funeral," the set's opener, which gives way to something eerie, plodding, and multi-dimensionally heavy as guitars, basses, snares, bass drums, and violins all seek to crescendo together. It's there in the more chant-like, metallic, malevolent bitterness of "Bring Me Victory," where ringing basslines meet keyboards and violins atop roiling tom-toms and a more insistent tempo (which is the greatest sideways resurrection tune about Jesus ever). It's also there in the lithe, languid drift that is "Shadow Haunt," and the sprawling doom metal suite "Death Triumphant," that closes the set with washes of taut riffs, atmospheric waves of sound, ambience, and dirge-like strings. What "it" is, is the elemental discovery by My Dying Bride of a sound that pushes the doom metal attack of yesteryear toward the margin where it entwines sensuously -- and inseparably -- with gothic rock, in a meld that bears no signature but the band's. MDB has so seamlessly metamorphosed, lyrically, musically, and sonically, that they've effectively created their own subgenre of goth while retaining enough of their earlier M.O. to keep old fans, while no doubt gathering to themselves a legion of new ones -- who have little to no use for doom or goth metal -- in the process. For those veterans who've enjoyed A Line of Deathless Kings, The Angel and the Dark River, and even Turn Loose the Swans, this is for you. For the curious, For Lies I Sire is an excellent place to begin to investigate one of the most genuinely enigmatic bands to have emerged from the 20th century more inspired and visionary than before. And for the veteran fan, who will in no way be disappointed, this is brilliant work.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek