Manics: Ready To Share Richey's Last Words

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Nicky Wire pays tribute to missing bandmate and reveals 'The Holy Bible'-inspired new cover art

Photo: Cover of Journal For Plague Lovers

Manic Street Preachers' long-awaited 'sequel' to classic album 'The Holy Bible' is complete and set for a May release - with no singles. 'Journal For Plague Lovers' was written using lyrics left behind by guitarist Richey Edwards, which the band have been holding on to since his disappearance in 1995.

The band have now revealed the tracklisting and artwork for the Steve Albini-produced album, which bassist Nicky Wire calls "an obelisk".

Having temporarily abandoned the widescreen bombast of their recent years, Wire told the NME that a record as heavy as the one they've made would not have been possible with his own lyrics, and paid tribute to the vision of the band's missing guitarist.

"You've get to get yourself into a mindset. I couldn't have written lyrics this good for a start," Wire declared. "The use of language, is truly stunning. It makes me realise how much I miss him as a lyricist. Sitting down together was a wonderful thing."

To further capture the spirit of 'The Holy Bible', the cover has once again been provided by British artist Jenny Saville, whose painting Strategy (South Face/Front Face/North Face) graced the 1994 album's cover. Saville famously only agreed to let the work be used after talking to Edwards.

The new painting, 'Stare', features a young girl with a bloodied face. "I think it just conveys that sense of innocence as well as some kind of violence," said Wire. "That's what the record is. At times, even though it's dark and heavy, there's a sense of innocence and it's quite uplifting, but there's always a sense of menace and threat in the background."

The band are set to play UK shows in May. Tickets go on sale this Friday (March 27).

'Journal For Plague Lovers' Tracklisting:

'Peeled Apples'
'Jackie Collins Existential Question Time'
'Me and Stephen Hawking'
'This Joke Sport Severed'
'Journal For Plague Lovers'
'She Bathed Herself In A Bath Of Bleach'
'Facing Page: Top Left'
'Marlon JD'
'Doors Closing Slowly'
'All Is Vanity'
'Virginia State Epileptic Colony'
'William's Last Words'

[Originally published: New Musical Express, 28 March 2009]