My Silent Wake – “An Unbroken Threnody: 2005-2015”


MSW_COMP_a30 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 some of their influences have been early Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride, Trouble and a large dollop of Black Sabbath. Their main releases are ‘Shadow Of Sorrow’ (2006), ‘The Anatomy Of Melancholy’ (2007), ‘A Garland Of Tears’ (2008), ‘IV Et Lux Perpetua’ (2010), ‘Silver Under Midnight’ (2013) and ‘Damnatio Memoriae’ (2015).

Whilst people may hark back to Seventh Angel, they will find that MSW is a far different beast. A lot of band members have been agnostic or atheist. Some of the early lyrics that deal with faith were asking questions about faith and expressing doubt. After ten years the band decided it would be the right time to remaster their tracks for a compilation album. It includes sleeve notes from Ian Arkley and artwork from Matt Vickerstaff.

They open up with one of their older tracks, ‘Sturm’. It is gothic doom with progressive elements and harshly growled vocals “Come now to me / From this hell you’ve seen / Lost to the sea / I have seen you grieve”. It also has gently sung clean vocal excerpts bolstered by vocal harmonies and has a piano outro. As if to contrast, in their newer track, they switch to the up-tempo, pulsating metal of ‘The Last Man’ with its gothic tinged clear vocals. “Tomorrow as he wakes to find he is the last man / All that went before has no meaning anymore / Nothing left behind for the last man / Living out this remnant of time in solitude”. It happens to be one of my personal favourites.

There is a mournful opening to ‘And So It Comes To An End’ as its leaden riffing sees their progressive side melded with metallic doom. It’s a song brimming with regret. “This moment changes everything / Nothing will ever be the same again”. They fully embrace their progressive side in the epic ‘Cruel Grey Skies’. It drags you along before bursting forth with its insistent chords. “Cruel grey skies – Run for cover / In her eyes see her lover / Fear the falling rain as you shelter / Your world drowned, lost forever”. Then there is one of their harshest offerings in the up-tempo ‘Burning’ with its deathly growls. “Marching backwards through the years / Facing long forgotten fears / Yearning, searching for a reason / What is my identity?” With an almost identical tempo, but later in their career, ‘Journey’s End’ is Hawkwind style space rock howling into the void “I see it all coming down / All journeys 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”. The band is known for its longer songs (see live favourite ‘Hunting Season’) and here we get the 11 minute opus of ‘Tunnels’. It always reminds me of the classic 1953 War of the Worlds film, which was adapted from the H.G. Wells book published in 1898. There is a point in the book where two men discuss a plan to rebuild civilization by living underground.

Wells also drew upon a common fear of the anticipated apocalypse at midnight on the last day of 1899, also known as the ‘end of the age’. Another aspect of this is found in ‘The Dying Things We’re Living For’ as it questions faith. “And when at last we breathe our final precious breath / And when at last we’re summoned unto death / Is there an open door? / Will there be any more? / What will remain from all these dying things we’re living for? ” There is another heap of misery in ‘Bleak Endless Winter’, but then again it could just be that it reminds me of my ongoing struggle with seasonal affective disorder. They charge headlong into ‘Highwire’ with its uptempo, agrrressive energy wanting to rip your face off. “You’re a fly in the ointment / Let the healer bring disease”. They treat longstanding fans to a live version of ‘Shadow Of Sorrow’ before finishing off with the atmospheric instrumental, Mímir’s Well (in Norse mythology it is a magical well of knowledge).

As a thank you to all those fans that support them by purchasing a copy of An Unbroken Threnody, MSW have added something special to the album package. Each CD purchased will come with a download code, giving access to yet more remastered, classic material.

Rating: 8.5/10

Reviewed by Peter John Willoughby

Track Listing:
1 Sturm
2 The Last Man
3 And So It Comes To An End
4 Cruel Grey Skies
5 Burning
6 Journey’s End
7 Oblivion
8 Tunnels
9 The Dying Things We’re Living For
10 Bleak Endless Winter
11 Highwire
12 Shadow Of Sorrow (live)
13 Mímir’s Well

Current Members
Ian Arkley – Vocals, Lead & Rhythm Guitars, Percussion, Synth, Keyboards, Cello, Ebow
Addam Westlake – Bass Guitars
Gareth Arlett – Drums
Simon Bibby – Keyboards
Mike Hitchen – Rhythm Guitars

Previous Members:
Andrew Lee – Rhythm, Lead & Bass Guitars, Vocals, Percussion, Synth, Mandolin, Ebow
Jasen Whyte – Drums, Percussion, Vocals
Kate Hamilton – Bass Guitars, Keyboards, Cello, Vocals, Hammered Dulcimer, Recorders, Percussion, Zither, Clarinet
Alan Southorn – Bass Guitars
Tank – Drums, Percussion
Steve Allan – Drums, Percussion
Marc Ellison – Acoustic Guitars
Mark Henry – Drums, Percussion, Vocals
Richard Alden – Guitars

2005 My Silent Wake EP
2006 Shadow of Sorrow
2007 The Anatomy of Melancholy
2008 A Garland of Tears
2010 Black Lights & Silent Roads Split
2010 IV Et Lux Perpetua
2011 Rare and Live Recordings. Vol.1 Compilation
2012 Acoustic Collection Compilation
2013 Silver Under Midnight
2013 Preservation Restoration Reconstruction (acoustic)
2013 Empyrean Rose Split
2014 And Everlasting Light (vinyl only)
2014 Eye of the Needle (ambient / experimental)
2015 Damnatio Memoriae
2016 An Unbroken Threnody: 2005-2015 Compilation
2016 An Unbroken Threnody: Apocrypha Compilation (bonus material)

Record Label: Stone Groove Records, Feb. 2016

Weblinks: Website / Facebook / Reverbnation / Twitter

Buy the album here:
Holland: First Paradox
Norway: Nordic Mission

Video below: ‘Sturm’

Video below for: ‘And so it Comes to an End’

Video below: ‘Journey’s End’

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