The year was sometime between 2000 and 2002. I think. I didn't have a stable internet connection and my phone was barely capable of sending text messages, let alone storing music. Youtube and Spotify were still a few years away and checking out new music usually meant a trip to the local entertainment retailer.
It was during one of these excursions that I picked up 'Like Gods of the Sun'. I'd not heard any My Dying Bride before but Peaceville Records had put out some of my favourite albums at the time including Darkthrone's 'Under a Funeral Moon' and Akercocke's 'The Goat of Mendes' among many others so, for the sake of around £8 I decided to check out MDB.
Released in 1996 via Peaceville, this was My Dying Bride's fourth full length album and it seems like from reading some old reviews that this one met with some divided opinions upon release. This album featured slightly shorter songs, Aaron Stainthorpe dropped the death metal style vocals and it was generally considered to be more accessible than their previous releases so it's understandable that some of the long-term fans would be slightly put out. As a newcomer however, Like Gods of the Sun really opened my eyes.
It was this album with it's synth-heavy atmospherics and symphonic sections that really made me pay attention to similar elements in some of my favourite music. 'Like Gods of the Sun' starts with the title track and it really sets the pace for the rest of the album. Slow incredibly catchy riffs and Stainthrope's trademark despair-fuelled vocals start the track off before a church organ sounding synth marks the beginning of the excellent chorus. For me this track typifies what doom should sound like, epic, evil and completely miserable.
Third track in, 'Grace Unhearing' features some excellent violin work from Martin Powell who unfortunately left the band after this album to join fellow UK death/doom band Anathema as a live keyboardist. 'Grace Unhearing' blends seamlessly into fourth track 'A Kiss To Remember' which is yet another example of how thought provoking and open to interpretation Stainthorpe's lyrics are. The album ends with 'For My Fallen Angel', a minimal track with Stainthorpe speaking vocal lines over some beautiful violins.
If doom is your thing and you've not checked out MDB, I'd highly recommend this as a starting point. After listening to this, I bought the MDB back catalogue and they continue to be one of my favourite bands to this day. This album is bleak, depressing, thoughtful and utterly beautiful.