Ian Arkley is one of those prolific musicians that don’t seem to take a break. He always has at least one project on the boil, whether it be Seventh Angel (1987-1992 & later resurrected in 2008), Ashen Mortality (1993-2004) or My Silent Wake (2005-present). MSW specialises in gothic doom and has released ‘Shadow Of Sorrow’ (2006), The Anatomy Of Melancholy’ (2007), ‘A Garland Of Tears’ (2008), ‘IV Et Lux Perpetua’ (2010) and ‘Silver Under Midnight’ (2013).
The latest album was recorded, produced, mixed and mastered by Greg Chandler (Esoteric) at The Priory, near Birmingham (UK), with the exception of ‘Midnight’ recorded by Ian Frost at Kewsound, Somerset (UK). The line-up for this recording was Ian Arkley (vocals, guitar, keys, ebow, bass & percussion), Kate Hamilton (bass & dulcimer) and Mark Henry (drums). Their sound embraces progressive and gothic elements melded with metallic doom.
The opener ‘Midnight’ features Kate on a medieval hammered dulcimer with its resonating chiming tones. This is in sharp contrast to the progressive doom in the epic ‘Destroyer’. MSW have gone back to a lengthier song format that uses clear and barked vocals. “Feel the fear / Grow sharp as silver under midnight / Your time is here / The will to fight begins to disappear”. It also features backing vocals by Greg Chandler, who also contributes the haunting growls in the chaotic climax.
They switch back to the up-tempo, pulsating metal of ‘The Last Man’ with its gothic tinged vocals. There will be a video to accompany it. This is being shot by Andrew Spencer, who did the other promo videos for ‘Sturm’, ‘Storm’ and ‘Journey’s End’. Taking the tempo back down is ‘Oblivion’ as they return to one of the staples of the doom genre … the theme of a decaying world. “Millions of pitiful fading lives / Running in vain from the shadow of death”
Having taken it down to doom territory, they keep it there for ‘My Killer’ with its leaden riffage and raspy vocals. This features a ghostly section of guest narration by Martin Bowes. There is both hypnotically repetitive and technical guitar in ‘Wars’ as it builds to a thrashy conclusion. It draws towards to the brink of destruction with automatic gunfire and quietens into birdsong in an echo of life in the trenches.
‘Third Season’ takes the gothic elements further towards the godfathers of the genre, Fields of the Nephilim. It is filled with razor-sharp riffs, swirling consciousness and airy vocals with a grandiose reach of 14 minutes. “When we wander through the wasteland / Through the darkness, through the night / In the spring life will awaken / Warmth of summer comes in sight”
Reviewed by Peter John Willoughby
1) Midnight (1.50)
2) Destroyer (8.29)
3) The last man (3.52)
4) Oblivion (5.26)
5) My Killer (5.38)
6) Wars (4.36)
7) Third Season (14.24)
Ian Arkley – vocals, guitar, keys, ebow, bass and percussion
Kate Hamilton – bass and dulcimer
Mark Henry – drums
Greg Chandler – additional keys, vocals
Martin Bowes – Narration vocals.
Music by Ian and Kate, lyrics by Ian except ‘Destroyer’ by Kate
Record Label: Bombworks Records, May 2013
Interview With ‘My Silent Wake’ [May 2013]
Video below: “Silver Under Midnight” album trailer
Video below: “Oblivion”: