My Dying Bride - The Voice of the Wretched (2002)Release ID: 952

My Dying Bride - The Voice of the Wretched (2002) Cover
Ben Ben / January 16, 2019 / Comments 0 / 1

My Dying Bride replicate their classics on stage in a professional, clinical manner.

After twelve years as a band and seven full length studio albums, it was about time My Dying Bride released a live album. This was a period where Peaceville records were really starting to cash in on the popularity resurrection that the British doomsters had experienced since 1999’s The Light at the End of the World returned them to their more comfortable roots. With the Meisterwerk collections acting as both rarity archives and best of compilations and the For Darkest Eyes DVD the first foray into that media for the band, The Voice of the Wretched would top off a five year period where fans were gifted with no less than seven My Dying Bride releases. No doubt Peaceville would be grateful for a band that supplies so much revenue, not to mention one that has stayed loyal to the label for over a decade. However this appreciation doesn’t seem to have resulted in decent quality assurance in this case, as the original pressing of The Voice of the Wretched not only misspells Turn Loose the Swans as Trun Loose the Swans, but it also incorrectly switches the same song and The Snow in My Hand on the tracklisting, resulting in a confusing moment where Aaron announces a different song to what you’re expecting. Thankfully, the performance of the band and the recording are of a much more professional quality.

The Voice of the Wretched was recorded at 013 Club in Tilburg, Holland on the 4th of March 2001. It contains the same line-up as The Dreadful Hours album, meaning Hamish Glencross has already joined the band as second guitarist and Yasmin Ahmed acts as a session musician. I can only assume that Yasmin performed keyboards live while Jonny Maudling performed on the studio albums during this period for creative reasons. Perhaps Yasmin was not particularly good at writing music, but was perfectly capable of playing it? The rest of the band is as you would expect with Aaron on vocals, Andy on guitar, Ade on bass and Shaun behind the kit and given the amount of time the majority of these musicians have spent together, it’s not surprising to find My Dying Bride in such good form throughout this concert. The entire seventy five minute set is executed flawlessly, with just about every moment performed identically to what you can hear on their albums. Shaun doesn’t miss a beat, Andy and Hamish replicate riffs to perfection and Aaron’s vocal styles mimic his not insubstantial on-disc feats. The only thing that really stands out as being dissimilar is the replacement of ex violinist Martin Powell’s beautiful work with Yasmin’s adequate yet unquestionably inferior keyboards.

Of course, this raises the question that I often find myself asking when listening to live recordings. If the material is not going to sound particularly different to the studio versions, then what really is the point of a live album? It’s not like Aaron’s between song banter is of any interest, with the crooner only taking a long enough break to say “cheers” or “thank you” before announcing the next tune and onwards we go. Crowd participation is kept strictly to the close of each track, which doesn’t really give the full impression of what a My Dying Bride live concert would actually be like. In the end, The Voice of the Wretched acts as a best of recording that merely suggests the band are more than capable of reproducing their classics on stage, without displaying the power of actually being there. Thankfully, I can take enough enjoyment out of it by treating it as such, due to the well selected set list. One disc was never going to be able to contain all my favourite My Dying Bride moments, but the band include tracks that range from their harsh origins (Symphonaire Infernus et Spera Empyrium) right through to their at the time unreleased new album (A Cruel Taste of Winter). Classics such as Your River, The Cry of Mankind and A Kiss to Remember are all present, making The Voice of the Wretched thoroughly entertaining if not particularly significant.