Monday, December 06, 2010

My Silent Wake: IV Et Lux Perpetua (2010)


A couple months ago, I discussed the English semi-Christian gothic death/doom band My Silent Wake and their 2008 record A Garland of Tears. After hearing their new album IV Et Lux Perpetua, you could believe they took my criticism to heart.

Compared to their previous effort, they sound less like a clone of My Dying Bride and more like a unique entity. The clean vocals no longer ape Aaron Stainthorpe, but instead go for a more natural and less voiced approach. And the death growls (which I praised) are used far more often than the clean.

As the album progresses, it seems to start more clearly in their MDB-style roots and branch out from there. Indeed, opener "Et Lux Perpetua" sounds a great deal like "The Fever Sea". But they quickly diversify, including some tremolo riffing on "Death Becomes Us". The standout track, "Bleak Endless Winter", incorporates both organ (for drama) and some Middle Eastern-inflected leads.

From there, the album loses some of its focus as they incorporate the psychedelic elements barely touched on in their previous album. "Father" has a trance-inducing clean melody over the heavy riff, and on the next few tracks they start to sound more like Cathedral than MDB. While I applaud their exploration, it seems they would have been better served to put a little bit of psychedelia throughout the album for added consistency. And "Between Wake and Sleep" is far too bouncy to fit the mood. Closer "Journey's End" has an entirely new vocal technique, a nasal stoner style similar to Lord Vicar (or Mastodon, for a better-known analogy). It's a nice touch, but why not use this style for all of the album's clean vocals?

This sounds like a lot of criticism, but really there's nothing on here that doesn't work, aside from "My Silent Wake" being forgettable. It just hasn't been made to fit together as well as it should. (And hell, at least they didn't throw in a folk track out of nowhere.) These guys know how to write a riff, they know how to create atmosphere, and they know how to write a song that builds to a satisfying crescendo.

The Verdict IV Et Lux Perpetua is a clear improvement over A Garland of Tears, and is filled with great songs, but still suffers from lack of focus. It's one of the best Christian metal albums of the year. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

No comments:

Post a Comment