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Following the release of the strange “34.788%...Complete” and the fairly standard “The Light at the End of the World”, My Dying Bride seemed to be in an almost downward spiral. With that in mind, no one was expecting their upcoming release to be a classic, but My Dying Bride proved naysayers wrong. The release of “The Dreadful Hours” saw a reinvigorated band releasing their best work in 8 long years.
The tone of the album is (like most of My Dying Bride’s material), dark, sad, and romantic. This is made quite present right off the bat when the listener is greeted with the sound of descending rain and a mournful sounding guitar riff in the album’s title track. The third track, “Le Figlie della Tempesta” has a very haunting sound, thanks to the mysterious sounding main riff, the hypnotic vocals and the tasteful use of keys.
The album keeps up this consistent level of quality throughout, with each track being an essential building block to the foundation that is this classic, but the climax of the album doesn’t truly come until the sixth track, “My Hope, the Destroyer”. Words can barely describe the pure bliss that is this song. The song starts off with very peaceful and calming sounding keys, but is eventually interrupted by blistering drums, which make way for an explosion of emotion in the form of Aaron’s pained vocals, and Hamish and Andrew’s pounding riffs.
It is a doom album, so the pace rarely picks up past walking speed, but each member performs their part so masterfully and with so much passion that it really elevates “The Dreadful Hours” to a whole new level. Aaron displays his most heart breaking and stunning performance of his career, with his mix of deep, theatric (yet oddly relaxing) clean vocals and his raw, emotional gutturals. His lyrics are also top notch and really help add to the atmosphere, with each song displaying a different tale of loss, sadness and gloom.
Although Aaron may appear to be the star of the show, that is not the case. Guitarists Andrew and Hamish do an amazing job in creating engaging riffs that are both sad and heavy, which is present from the first somber riff in “The Dreadful Hours” up until the obscenely heavy “The Deepest of All Hearts”.
The drums on the album are produced pretty high in the mix and have a deep heavy sound best implemented when preparing the listener for emotional climaxes, as can be seen on “My Hope, the Destroyer”. The keyboard and bass are both used tastefully, with their main purpose being to enhance the overall atmosphere of dread and sadness throughout the album.
The album hooks you from the moment the first riff hits your ears and holds your interest until the last one fades out. It has a definitive beginning, middle, and end that wouldn’t make sense any other way, it is full of genuine passion and emotion, and it takes time for its songs to develop and climax. Much like a classic novel or film, these are the marking of a truly special album. “The Dreadful Hours” is a classic, not just for My Dying Bride, but for metal and music in the 00’s as a whole.