Moving as last Wednesday's BBC2 documentary From There To Here was, and undeniable as it is that the spectre of Richey Edwards' disappearance will continue to hang over the Manic Street Preachers for as long as they choose to continue, the fact remains that the band's destiny is firmly in the hands of the three remaining members, a future which This Is My Truth Tell Me
Yours confirms to be as optimistic as any loyal fan could have possibly predicted.
If their fourth album - the brilliant and mega-selling Everything Must Go - was the sound of a band coming to terms with the effective loss of a crucial member and lifelong friend, and seeking redemption and reassurance through incredibly powerful music, then This Is My Truth...finds them under more pressure than ever.
For starters, it's the first time they've ever made an album without Richey Edwards contributing any or the lyrics. In the past, Nicky Wire co-wrote them all, with the exception Of The Bible's bleak and harrowing visions...that was 80 per cent Richey.
More crucially, this is the only occasion in their eight-year career When they've released a record from a position of real commercial strength, with the attendant burden of expectation that brings. And they haven't let us down.
This Is My Truth isn't as musically in-your-face as its predecessor, but what you may initially perceive as a laid-back approach gradually reveals the Manics as reaching inwards to stretch ever further outwards.
Opening track 'Thc Everlasting' has the stamp of classic anthem written all over it, the brooding chorus line "In the beginning/When we were winning/When our smiles were genuine" is delivered with total conviction by James Dean Bradfield, who's never sung so consistently good over an entire album before.
'If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next' may also have seemed low-key at first, but such is its undeniable power and melody that even Today FM don't have to phone abroad to get the OK to play it in the mornings; and, of course, it just happens to be the first chart-topper to have the Spanish Civil War as its subject matter...narrowly beating the Steps single to the title.
The album covers such diverse themes as the Hillsborough disaster (the chilling closer 'South Yorkshire Mass Murderer'), Welsh nationalism ('Ready For Drowning'), the joys of housework (My Little Empire'), depression ('Black Dog On My Shoulder'), gender confusion ('Born A Girl') and, first und possibly last,thc disappearance or Richey Edwards (Nobody Loved You').
Throughout this rich and thoroughly rewarding record. the Manics slip effortlessly into their role as the most important, intelligent and fiercely moral band on the planet, creating yet another addition to a body of work which easily marks them out as band of the decade.
And in one or those wild ironies which Bradfield, Wire and Moore would surely relish, it's just been announced that, like The Holy Bible. This Is My Truth Truth Tell Me Yours has just been turned down by three major labels in America, and consequently won't get an official release there.
They're welcome to Marilyn Manson; at least we still have the Manics.