My Dying Bride – The Barghest O’ Whitby [2011]

Band: My Dying Bride
Album: The Barghest O’ Whitby
Release year: 2011
Genre: Doom Metal


My Dying Bride – Part of the “Peaceville Three” – have never been commercially successful compared to most metal bands but they always remained one of the most respected and influential bands to ever come ascend from the murky blackness that is the British underground – More specifically, Yorkshire (which is the best part of the UK – both musically and culturally). Anyway, I better stop writing about the geographical origins of the band before I cause another Yorkshire/Lancashire argument. As I was saying, My Dying Bride are definitely one of the most respected metal bands from Britain – Be it due to their status in the underground or the fact that they’re musical geniuses is a reason unknown to me in my current state of excitement. The excitement of course being about the new EP: “The Barghest O’ Whitby”.

Anyone who has ever read a book on Yorkshire folklore will that the barghest is an ominous sign that foretells death of the person who lays eyes upon it or the death of one of their relatives. A grim portent to come face to face with indeed. Well, that is if you believe in folklore and fairy tales. It’s no surprise that the ethereal legends of night fallen depression that are My Dying Bride have based an entire EP on such a grim and macabre legend. If you do think it’s a surprise then where the hell have you been living?!

I’ll admit, the EP being only comprised of one track (“The Barghst O’ Whitby”) did take me by absolute surprise. The first minute or so is composed entirely of the ominous howling of wind creating that unique otherworldly atmosphere. The first guitar section feels like it’s taking you back in time – Not in the sci-fi, let’s change the course of the future kind of way but more in the kind of sense that they sound similar to the riffs that can be heard echoing throughout the “Turn Loose The Swans”. The violin turns the sound awfully cold, much in the way that snow adds that extra chill to a quiet December morning – Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad effect, in fact, it helps enforce the classic My Dying Bride sound. The raw snarling of vocals offered up by frontman Aaran Stainthorpe complete this first section of the track.

For most, it would feel as if the song does drone on but that’s part of the genius hidden within the music. Obviously the song does progress into something a little faster, featuring a cleaner, more Gothesque vocal range provided by Stainthorpe combined with a dark musical sound. The violin, once again, adds that cold and frostbitten [Is frostbitten a term that can be used for doom metal?] sound that gently echoes through the speakers. The bass work, provided by Lena, through out the song, so far has been a pleasantry for the ears as well. The track progresses once more into a new sound, showing a slight use of melodic riffs in the guitar section though not enough to be considered melodic, unfortunately. The drone of music and vocals is almost mystifying, verging on the lines of being a hymn sung by the grimmest of divinity.

One of the guitars slowly fades out leaving only the hollow echo of a string being slowly picked, which also fades away into a void of empty of silence. But fear not, young readers (or listeners when you listen to the EP), for it is not the end just yet as whispered winds and chanting of guitars return with a more melodic sound. The bass and drums add that extra weight to the guitars like depression to the soul – Just to be clear, I mean that positively. The howl just after the vocal section is masterfully placed, reinforcing the concept of the barghest in the song. For lovers of heavier music, you’ll be pleased to know that the EP ends on a violent and aggressive note with the additional roar of thunder at the end.

”The Barghest O’ Whitby” is possibly one of the best releases of 2011. My Dying Bride have done what they do best and created a musical masterpiece that will give Andrew Lloyd Webber a run for his money. While the EP has a very raw edge compared to previous releases, it still echoes the sound of the band’s earlier releases – Something that many bands struggle to do with their new material. “The Barghest O’ Whitby” is definitely one that could rival My Dying bride’s first release “Turn Loose The Swans”. I would seriously advise buying this EP and keep it on repeat for a long, long time.


Nico Davidson

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