My Silent Wake – “Lost in Memories, Lost in Grief”


You can’t define My Silent Wake. Every review of their music seems to utter this fact because every album stands uniquely in their long-running discography. Generally aligned to the doom genre with large swaths of death and gothic and flashes of thrash, they also have a penchant for acoustic folksy music and experimentation. So, listening to a new MSW album should come with no expectations except your own memories of their past music.

For those new to the band, MSW is a long-running doom metal band hailing from England, and the latest incarnation of what I call “Ian Arkley and Friends” which has roots back in the late 80s with thrash metal band, Seventh Angel. MSW was formed in 2005 out of its predecessor Ashen Mortality, a gothic doom metal band. Starting with that palate, they slowly developed two parallel branches of their discography: one was doom metal and the other was acoustic/ambient. This dichotomy was first seen in the double album “The Anatomy of Melancholy” that had a doom metal disc and an acoustic disc, each with a different tracklisting save the last track, “Storm/Sturm.” Since then, there has been this oscillation between metal releases and the folk/experimental releases. Their previous release, “Damnum Per Saeculorum,” was on the acoustic branch meaning that it was high time for some metal!

Where the last two metal albums had a more concerted death flavor to their sound, this album shifts back towards the gothic of the earlier albums with more clean vocals and heavier use of organ. Unlike the earlier albums where Ian would do both clean and death vocals, Simon Bibby (Thy Listless Heart, Seventh Angel) steps up on the clean vocals, delivering a haunting and stirring performance that contrasts well with Ian’s death growls. The result of their effort on this record is absolutely beautiful – doom-laden with splashes of color.

More so than in other MSW albums (at least to my memory), I hear a cohesive band beyond an outlet for Ian’s prodigious creativity. The first sign is the incredible synergy between Simon and Ian, the doomy duo. The added use of Simon’s clean vocals gives more depth to this record and the organ is just pure awesomeness! It is spooky, nostalgic, or epic depending on when you find it and blends in well with the myriad of guitar riffs and leads that Ian concocts. Although the rhythm section is less heralded, I find that Gareth’s drums and Addam’s bass give great support, but also provide their own flourishes from time to time.

The focus is on the emotions conjured up through the musical conversation between the members. I liken their sound on this album to a dark impressionist painting that conjures an emotion, not due to refined forms, but the colors used. The band is great at what they play, but doesn’t get overly technical musically in getting their point across. Emotion is key. The songs are cathartic, evidenced by Ian’s harsh vocals that border on desperation in “Lavender Garden.”

This is one of the shortest MSW albums at just under 44 minutes, but it is no less epic. With the shorter runtime, this makes their work more accessible as it eschews of the near 20 minute opuses that they have a tendency to lay down. The key is in their linear song structures that feel like a journey. Often the initial section of the song will only come back at the end after flowing through several other developments and variations.

The eight songs on here are unique and exhibit the breadth of the band’s sound. The epic opener “The Liar and the Fool” starts with some moody clean guitar but leads into a dark grooving metal track showcasing the two vocalists in a call and response. “Wolf” is a guitar riff driven song with much heavier death metal emphasis with a medieval feel to the harmonies. “Lavender Garden” shifts to a haunting gothic atmosphere with prevalent organ and clean vocals. “When You Look Back” feels like it would fit in well their back catalog, particularly around “Garland of Tears.” “Another Light” is a short and fast song for doom metal, but showcases the organ in the driving lead riff.

The epic of the album is next in “The Last Lullaby.” The pace starts slow, but the various layers develop leading to a great pummeling of the drums by Gareth before returning back over the course of the 8.5 minute song. A truly beautiful piece that takes time to unpack. “No Time” might be their most experimental on this album, but not off the beaten path of the previous tracks. It is funeral doom that goes at a super slow pace that builds over the course of the song. Addam’s bass is the main driver here building in emotional tension that releases like a wind blowing through the trees at the end. “The Judges” is the final track with a sad and melancholic feel with a glimmer of hope in the final emotional intonation of “Forgive, Forget.” The last chord trails leaving me somewhat unresolved at the end but thoroughly satisfied with the journey.

“Lost in Memories, Lost in Grief” is definitely my favorite in the latter catalog of MSW. I owe much of my enjoyment to the balancing of the heavy melancholic death approach that Ian does so well with the more emotional, lighter clean vocals from Simon that hearkens to their earlier sound. That and the organ! Highly recommended particularly for fans of emotion-driven doom or any of Ian’s previous works.

Rating: 9.5/10

Written by Sean Bailey

1 – The Liar And The Fool
2 – Wolf
3 – Lavender Gardens
4 – When You Look Back
5 – Another Light
6 – The Last Lullaby
7 – No Time
8 – The Judges

My Silent Wake is:
Ian Arkley – guitars and death vocals
Simon Bibby – organ and clean vocals
Addam Westlake – bass
Gareth Arlett – drums

Release Date: May 3, 2024

Record Label: Ardua Music

Shadow Of Sorrow (2006)
The Anatomy of Melancholy (2007)
Garland of Tears (2008)
IV: Et Lux Perpetua (2010)
Silver Under Midnight (2013) [review]
Preservation Restoration Reconstruction (2013)
Eye of the Needle (2014) [review]
Damnatio Memoriae (2015)
Invitation to Imperfection (2017)
There Was Death (2018) [review]
Damnum per Saeculorum (2020)
Lost in Memories, Lost in Grief (2024)

Social Media: Facebook | Instagram | Spotify | Bandcamp | X (Twitter)

Lyric video for Another Light

Video for Lavender Garden

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts