Album: The Dreadful Hours
Band: My Dying Bride
Genre: Death/Doom Metal
1. The Dreadful Hours
2. The Raven And The Rose
3. Le Figlie Sella Tempesta
4. Black Heart Romance
5. A Cruel Taste Of Winter
6. My Hope, The Destroyer
7. The Deepest Of All Hearts
8. The Return To The Beautiful
My Dying Bride is a band that revels in their darkness. Doom Metal is what they do, and My Dying Bride is masterful with the genre. "The Dreadful Hours" weaves a complex and emotional web that is as touching as it is dark, and the sheer conviction and confidence shown here really draws you in.
"The Dreadful Hours" begins with the title track, a soft, sorrow-filled dual-guitar passage over rain and thunder. When the distortion kicks in and the drums enter, you just know you're in for a treat.
"The Dreadful Hours" is filled with moments of gloom, sorrow, and hopelessness; A Cruel Taste Of Winter is slow and heart-wrenching, and aches with scarred beauty; it's really quite passionate and even the heavier middle-section is more depressing than evil.
My Hope, The Destroyer pours gorgeous sweeping strings over more upbeat, marching drumming and some emotional twin-guitar riffs. It pauses for a moment of strings-only before breaking into a slow-paced section with some beautiful guitarwork, though the vocal line is admittedly a bit awkward sounding when vocalist Aaron chokes out "People...". It just doesn't sound as sad as he feels, but this is only a minor subtlety. The song surprisingly (and effortlessly) switches gears for a few tough riffs and goes right into a very victory-ish section (like you conquered a battle) which is a nice touch before slipping back into the excellent beginning section to end.
My Dying Bride are also very familiar with the darker side, and in The Deepest Of All Hearts they lure you in with a creepy, atmospheric intro before stomping into some evil ground. The song goes into some very heart-felt lyrics that really feel like a story, and you just feel Aaron's heart pouring out. It's just beautiful.
The Raven And The Rose features some catchy black riffing and fun drumwork. Certainly one of the heavier songs here, it's full of contempt and anger and like everything else here, the emotion is right out front for you to embrace. My Dying Bride can certainly carry out some terrific heavy sections very fluidly, and it really shows here.
La Figlie Sella Tempesta is a slow and creepy number with some dark atmospherics and a dirty, almost disgust-like tone. Like most of the album, it'll take it's time to work into you but is certainly rewarding and worth the time invested to understand it's mood intricacies.
Black Heart Romance is just as the title suggests. It begins with an almost Folk-ish riff and some delicate, cool reverbed guitar over some well-placed double bass rolls. The song emits a very dark, sensual feeling, and at times almost grooves.
The album ends with the monstrous, monolithic 14:24 epic The Return To The Beautiful. It is a perfect culmination of everything "The Dreadful Hours" achieves, and with some fantastic riffage, dark lyrics, and tasteful drumming. Aaron's growls are unique; they are undeniably dirty and aggressive, vile and vomitous, yet most of his lyrics are understandable. He never exactly shows his clean range, but his Death Metal vocals are diverse, and often will overlap growls and screams for some devastating effects.
My Dying Bride have created a phenomenal work of art; beautiful, seductive, and dark all at once. "The Dreadful Hours" is a display of inspired guitarwork, technically and artistically proficient drumming, pained vocals and dark lyrics. There really isn't a bad song here; almost every moment is terrific. Aaron is a great vocalist - decent at clean but excellent at aggressive - but he never takes risks, and that is really the only flaw My Dying Bride have. Mostly, the music doesn't call for loud, high-pitch opera lines, but a few more vocal risks could of further developed the already fantastic collection of songs here.
If you like Doom Metal, this one is a no-brainer; if you like Metal in general, this is well worth your time. Either way, "The Dreadful Hours" is an album with real, dramatic passion and depth and is to be experienced from the first note to the last. An absolute must-have.
The production here is superb. Crisp and clean, every note can be heard, and no single element is overpowering
Everything is tight with enough room to breathe. The drumming is technically impressive, the riffs and harmonies are often challenging (but don't take too many risks, for better or worse), and Aaron's vile aggressive vocals are varied and well-done. Too bad his clean voice never soars.
There is great depth in these songs. Nothing feels forced, and the many sections within the well-written numbers never overstay their welcome. Emotion just pours through here, so much so that it's inspiring, though a solo or two might of been nice. Beautiful, memorable, sentimental, and catchy to boot.
My Dying Bride aren't new and neither is the genre, but the whole album feels fresh and energetic, even in it's calm moments. The use of strings here should be studied by many other Metal bands; they're subtle and enhancing, never stealing the show but always making it better.
Overall: 9.4 (94%)
Highlights: The Dreadful Hours, Black Heart Romance, The Return To The Beautiful (no sample available)