My Dying Bride

The Voice of the Wretched

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With the release of The Voice of the Wretched, it was hard for My Dying Bride fans to stave off cynicism. No less than four MDB platters surfaced between 2000 and 2002, including two rare track/best-of compilations, Meisterwerk 1 and Meisterwerk 2, and a solid new studio album in The Dreadful Hours -- so whether or not this live set, recorded in March 2001 in Tilburg, Holland, is at all necessary (besides a reason to bring in a little extra coin) depends on your level of dedication to these long-standing, downtrodden doom metallers. The show is a nice cross-section of MDB's career, mingling old crusties "Symphonaire Infernus et Spera Empyrium" and "Your River" with latter-day immobile boulders "A Cruel Taste of Winter" and "She Is the Dark"; the only thing noticeably different between the live and studio cuts are ex-violinist Martin Powell's contributions on the early material being replaced with depressingly lackluster synth mush. Sure, the album is mixed cleanly and coherently, thankfully not burying vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe's moans and growls, but at least some degree of rawness in the recording would better complement the band's slowly dying shambling-beast sound. The Voice of the Wretched most likely proves that MDB's grotesquely brilliant odes to isolation are best appreciated at home, in solitude, with the lights turned off -- not necessarily in a sweaty club, where moping along to lengthy, plodding depresso-epics can only result in backaches and sore arches. Diehards will appreciate The Voice of the Wretched for awhile, it being a sufficiently morose live document, consistent in song and sound, but its overall conservative approach -- and the fact that My Dying Bride is once again mining its back catalog -- won't result in many repeat listens.

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