My Dying Bride - As The Flower Withers
Two decades ago, after milling away at various demos and live performances, a young and determined My Dying Bride culled together the best of their recordings and hashed together As The Flower Withers, their first LP. In terms of debuts, it is not the most impressive, or even the most promising, but it does enough of both to warrant closer inspection.
There are various things that were missing then, and a few that have faded from the band's sound over the years as well. Absent are vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe's well-known clean, strangled vocals. Also less defined in the overall sound picture are the band's flights of symphonic fantasy. In their place is a rough, tortured up-tempo doom metal foundation. The blunt, animalistic nature of these tracks pales in comparison to much of their later work, but has a very grimy appeal at times. Mostly a collection of roughly conceived musical ideas, As The Flower Withers offers no true standout moment, instead meshing together as a singular entity. "Sear Me" contains a memorable collection of riffs, "The Forever People" is a blunt assault on the senses, and "The Return Of The Beautiful" is harrowing and bitter, with a token violin casting a different shade upon the gloom. There may be highlights, but this record is easily digested as a sum of it's parts.
The future would see My Dying Bride slowly learn to craft more precise emotional endeavors, putting a clear face to the intent of their music. On As The Flower Withers, you get a mostly enjoyable glimpse of the first steps, and possibly the band at their most uninhibited. The pain burns through the music in a way that is more primal, visceral than most of what would come afterwards.
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