UK death/doomers My Silent Wake return with There Was Death, and while 2015’s Damnatio Memoriae delivered a relatively swift blast of pleasing – dare we say it, often catchy – songs, There Was Death requires a little more patience, with its labyrinthine structures, sullen movements and challenging compositions offering much more than just a barrage of dispiriting noise!
Opener “A Dying Man’s Wish” is as effectively chilling as they come, with dark gothic strains and the most wrought acts of depression echoing throughout this monumental track. And, ironically, that’s just the beginning! What follows, maintains a far bleaker outlook (if that’s possible!) than My Silent Wake have conjured in some time, and while “Killing Flaw” ups the ante pace-wise, There Was Death is as desolate as they come; existing in a stark mindset that’s sombre and riddled with unfathomable sadness.
If that sound’s like too much to take, take solace in the fact that Ian Arkley (Seventh Angel, Ashen Mortality, Paramaecium) is a master craftsman with each of There Was Death‘s 9 songs oozing suffering and pain, but providing enough nuance and technical ability to prevent There Was Death from becoming an unlistenable dirge.
It’s not all doom and gloom of course, with the semi-symphonic, straight-up ball-crusher that is “Walls Within Walls” allaying any fears that My Silent Wake have forgotten how to deliver a death/doom masterclass. Relatively streamlined, this quick-paced battlecry is a little more death than doom and is counter-balanced by the achingly reflective “No End To Sorrow”, a track which offers some respite from the crushing riffs, morbid keys and emotive growls with Arkley initially adopting a smooth baritone, before the track semi-reverts to type; burying you beneath suffocating layers of anger and sorrow.
It’s notable that the aforementioned keyboards play a greater role this time round, with MSW benefitting from the more identifiable gothic undercurrent provided by the full-time inclusion of Simon Bibby. In fact, There Was Death seems to indicate that My Silent Wake are now the perfect package, balanced and tempered by a group of musicians seamlessly converging to deliver the most chillingly effective death/doom the UK has to offer.
Prolific, consistent, innovative and committed, this 10th full length album indicates one thing: My Silent Wake are the UK’s current standard-bearers of death/doom. There was death, there was doom…..there will always be My Silent Wake! 8/10