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Rich in riffs and melody - 87%

gasmask_colostomy, January 26th, 2016

For all that My Dying Bride have been praised for sticking to their guns and always providing fans of doom metal with more of the stuff, they sure did wander about a bit in the middle of their career and continue to stagger along in zig-zag fashion rather than staying on the straight and narrow path. Of course, their sound has remained more conventional than their early 90s doom death peers such as Paradise Lost, Katatonia, Anathema - even Funeral sound like a very different kind of funeral now. However, particularly regarding the overtly experimental '34.788%...Complete', the hopeless atmospheric goth misstep of 'Songs of Darkness, Words of Light', and this album, 'The Dreadful Hours', the five guys from the North (or five guys and a lady depending which of those albums we're talking about) did everything they could to push their gothic doom death as far as it would go. What we have here really is kitchen sink doom.

I have always thought of 'The Dreadful Hours' as the most capacious MDB album, flitting about within several distinct styles without allowing the balance of the music to become compromised. It addresses the fault of 'Like Gods of the Sun' by avoiding plainness and cliche; it avoids the fault of '34.788%...Complete' by attempting to unify the disparate parts of the sound; it also improves upon 'The Light at the End of the World', which reacted to those other albums by being conventionally heavy and orthodox. What is surprising about this release is just how rich it is in content compared to those earlier releases, while it certainly doesn't lose out when stacked up against later efforts such as the recently strong 'A Map of All Our Failures' and 'Feel the Misery'. What must of course be even more surprising is just how joyous that richness and creative freedom makes some of the songs here sound, since MDB have made a name by peddling the kind of emotionally wrought and physically mournful music that would even make Vladimir Putin shed a tear. There are moments in 'The Dreadful Hours' where you might find yourself reaching for a handkerchief or your book of poetry, but by the time 'Black Heart Romance' and 'My Hope, My Destroyer' roll around you are just as likely to be up on your feet, shouting and having a cheeky headbang.

Like 'The Light at the End of the World' before it, 'The Dreadful Hours' focuses strongly on getting riffs into songs first, before any additional parts are layered over the top. By this point in MDB's career, they had worked out a riffing style that borrowed little from any other band. Those initial similarities with the other bands from the Peaceville 3 were short-lived, while traditional doom and death styles had also been discarded in favour of swirling melodic leads and two or three-footed chugs that sometimes pounded steadily forwards and sometimes lurched unnervingly into the listener's peripheral vision. Also returning to the band's arsenal on this album was a faster-paced style with its teeth in death metal's arse while its body remained in more fragrant territory, notably present in the middle of the title track, where it escalates into a bloody blastbeat section of tremolo death metal, differentiated only from pure death by a greater weight and cleanness, plus the reverence of the keyboards in the background. The following song, 'The Raven and the Rose' is an even more intense venture back into death metal realms, with Aaron Stainthorpe roaring in full voice, even if he doesn't sound as believable as he once did.

The other instrumentalists have plenty of chances to show off too, especially in the oozing flow of 'Le Figlie Della Tempesta', which remains unsettlingly placid for at least half of its 10 minutes, the bassline bubbling up and creating a smooth darkness, while Shaun Taylor-Steels provides gently avalanching percussion to keep the stagnant river moving. His best moment, however, is surely in 'A Cruel Taste of Winter', where his rolling endless fills propel the swooning romantic licks of the guitarists. I could go on about something in all of the songs, but I'll share just my two favourite moments: the first is the simply crushing doom riff midway through 'Black Heart Romance'; the second is the wonderfully buoyant and rejuvenating main riff of 'The Deepest of All Hearts', which is one of the rare type that gains from repetition, and joyfully so when it gains momentum from a glorious lick.

After I've praised the album so much for its richness, it seems a little harsh to pick fault with its excess too, but there's no denying that 'The Dreadful Hours' bears too much weight and attempts just a bit too much in terms of scope. The keyboards, while by no means ever-present, are overused and often dominate the moments when they appear instead of being used to supplement the atmosphere of the songs. They have their place here, just not so high in the mix. Besides that, there are a few songs that waste time, though none are utterly dispensable. The title track is actually the worst offender, a fact made more punishable since it is the opening of the album and thus does not introduce the listener on a positive note. 'The Deepest of All Hearts' could also stand to be cut, particularly its introduction, while 'The Return to the Beautiful' is largely inessential for any MDB fan who has the earlier version from the 'As the Flower Withers' album. Nonetheless, on the whole, 'The Dreadful Hours' is one of the best MDB albums (it's got to be top three), suits more moods than the band's standard miserable sound, and contains plenty of rewarding and interesting music.

Part one of something different... - 100%

grimdoom, July 26th, 2009

My Dying Bride is more or less synonymous with Passion, saying anything less is a flagrant lie. Few bands in the history of music have kept as true to their roots as they have and even fewer still have managed to update their sound/style while staying true to said roots. This album will take you to several different and horrible places internally and you will come back wanting more. If you don’t there is something seriously wrong with you as these masters of dejection have once again crafted an opus of hate and contempt that is so invigorating and new that you will be hooked seconds after the first few notes seductively find their way into your soul.

After the release of the bands gigantic leap backwards "The Light at the End of the World", and the annoying release of two compilations afterwards the men of My Dying Bride somehow managed to get their collective acts together and release what is by far the bands heaviest album to date. From start to finish this album simply doesn't let up going from beautiful ponderous moments to rage fueled tirades of utter bitterness. The songs and the lyrics make an atmosphere of dense and unforgiving pain and sorrow. What’s more is that the majority of the songs are ridiculously catchy to boot.

The production is tops as the band rip through vast choirs of misery and woe. The guitars are heavy, happily chugging their way through every song. There are the leads we've come to expect as well as the long dirges of emptiness. There is an imminent feeling of desperation and despair even in the more upbeat and moderate moments. There is not a solo to be found, but this doesn't hurt the songs. The bands hallmarks are securely in place but they venture into new territories, moving forward this time instead of backwards. While calling this the successor to "Turn Loose the Swans" or "The Angel and the Dark River” would be inappropriate, its certainly the album that the fans had been sorely waiting for.

The bass is more or less the standard from MDB and as such not that interesting, although it does lead the beginning of a song towards the middle of the album. The drums are fantastic and tight. They add a very welcome organic flow to the soul crushing guitars. The best way to describe them would be; original and well done. Anything less at this point would be a disservice to not only the band but the fans as MDB has always been more than exemplary in this particular field.

The keyboards (preformed by session member Yasmin) are excellent as well, but different from Martins. It does make one wonder what he would've done differently had he stuck around. They add a vast amount of oppression to the atmosphere at large. Neither as crafty nor intricate as the aforementioned masters’ they more than get the job done.

Aaron's vocals are acceptable on this album to say the least. His cleans are the best they'd ever been up to this point in their career. He actually decided to sing as opposed to sustained speaking. His growls aren't that bad either, although you can tell that they were starting to give out on him. His passionate lyrics add the final damning strike to this masterpiece of Doomdeath.

The music flows easily from song to song, almost as if the release was intended to be a concept album. The darkness and horror seethe from the notes of the players ebbing as flawlessly as blood from a damaged artery. This also seems to be the first album that shows the band updating their distortion. Trading in their tired and headache inducing sound (found on everything from their inception until this album) for something fresher and more visceral. This virginal sound adds the primal and raw feelings that seemed forced on their past efforts. This album could also been seen as the first of a trilogy of differently styled albums. The following two releases aren’t necessarily ending the ending to this new direction but rather the fleshing out and mapping of new territory. This is a great starting point for someone new to the band, or an old hat that wasn't pleased with the direction the band took after "The Angel and the Dark River ".

It doesn't get much better than this... - 100%

chaos_aquarium, July 25th, 2009

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.

ugh - 44%

Noktorn, March 28th, 2008

I'm not going to make this an involved and detailed review, because at this point in their career, it's hard to give a fuck about My Dying Bride much at all as they put out album after album of mind-numbing gothic doom/death that never seems to get better or worse, but just kind of bask in its mediocrity like an anole in the noonday sun. 'The Dreadful Hours' is an amazing achievement for the band because it manages to have two songs with memorable riffs instead of the one that the band usually averages per album. The rest is, of course, really, really boring, plodding doom/death that goes absolutely nowhere though taking enormous amounts of time to do it. This music is more static than the average The Ethereal song. Christ.

The two good songs are 'A Cruel Taste Of Winter' and 'My Hope, The Destroyer'. They're the most obviously poppy and unmetal, so they're the best. The rest of the album seems to be My Dying Bride attempting to channel the 'magic' of 'As The Flower Withers' with all the other tracks by playing a similar style of agonizingly boring doom/death, just without the unique atmosphere that made their first LP kind of worthwhile. This doesn't have atmosphere, it's just boring. Doom/death for the Hot Topic crowd. The two good songs, though, are pretty entertaining. 'A Cruel Taste Of Winter' has some charming verses and a decent main melody line, even though, in true My Dying Bride style, they decide to cock it up by throwing in a growled-vocal bridge with 'heavy' riffs which ruins the otherwise perfectly fine sad/gay atmosphere that the track was cultivating. 'My Hope, The Destroyer' is the best because it can actually move moderately fast (yeah yeah defeats the purpose of being doom, I don't care) and comes up with riffs and silly violin lines that make me want to curl up with a teddybear and cry.

The rest of this sucks though. Amazingly, the next best track is a rerecording of 'The Return To The Beautiful', which at least has spirit even if it's musically not THAT interesting. It's somehow better than the original version; less ponderous for some reason. Anyway, a lot of the stuff here is just embarrassing: I'd say this is the point where Stainthorpe's lyrics just become unbearably fucking painful and borderline incoherent, like he just slapped as much 'sad imagery' together as he could while in the studio. They're horrible, every song. So are most of the riffs, like the band just picked some notes and made annoyingly bombastic chords out of them. The music is incoherent and has barely any structure because the musicians just don't care about making songs with actual ideas behind them. 25% listenability is a BAD PERCENTAGE.

My Introduction to MDB. - 92%

woeoftyrants, May 5th, 2007

I clearly remember my entrance to the doom metal genre via gothic metal. My Dying Bride was my gateway, and this album served as a "Doom Metal 101" to me. Even to this day, I can still say this is my favorite MDB recording that I've heard so far, and it may very well be the band's most consistent and well-honed offering. Things in MDB's camp took a triumphant return to the dreary, depressing, and ultimately epic brand of doom/death/gothic metal for this album, making it somewhat of a modern classic when looked at in the context of past albums which strayed from the band's original formula.

The Dreadful Hours is very much a doom/death album; the majority of Aaron's vocals here are either screamed or growled, tempos are stuck in the mid-range dirge, (which is a good thing) and the bottom-heavy guitars give everything a very oppressive, rainy, nocturnal atmosphere. However, the famous gothic elements that the band are known for are in full swing here, with a new breath of life; "My Hope the Destroyer" switches beautiful guitar harmonies and strings with Aaron's signature croon, and "A Cruel Taste of Winter" sees the return of the dark romantic flair in the lyrics and foreboding keyboard parts. The "gothic" aspect is written all over the band's sound, but is especially prevelant in, obviously, the keyboards, which are skillfully composed. "The Raven and the Rose" utilizes twinkling, tragic pianos at the song's end before bursting into a slug-paced passage with melancholy guitar harmonies. Many will claim that the keyboards consist of nothing more than background ambience of choirs and strings, but the synths play an essential role of the aesthetic and atmosphere behind the music.

Even more impressive than the flawless performance from the band is the seamless integration of the death metal and morose gothic metal passages. Moments of ferocity and scorn are perfectly interplayed with tranquil, almost melancholy passages. "The Deepest of All Hearts" starts with chugging death metal riffs and ominus growls before going into even deeper territory that borders on funeral doom. A huge switch-up comes, though; a shuffling drum beat enters, complimented by harmonized guitars and Aaron's seductive clean vocals. It doesn't last long, though; as the keyboards enter, everything climaxes and becomes more foreboding before falling off into melodic territory again. This is constant throughout the album, and shows the band's versatility at creating a dramatic backdrop to everything; the narrative lyrics only help this case, and the constantly winding song structures only heighten that sense of atmosphere. "Le Figile Della Tempesta" takes a totally different stance altogether, being a very quiet, eerie song that straddles experimental territory with its sparse clean guitars, spider-like bass work, and cascading drumwork. Interestingly, this album never wears itself thin; it constantly has great riffs or arrangements at hand, and Aaron's vocal performance is one of his best yet. It is constantly enjoyable and interesting, and further listening will only open up more possibilites in the sound.

As a unit, this is an incredibly tight performance, aided only by a warm, punchy production job that makes wise use of effects on the instruments. The drums are rock-solid in the album's course, and the improvised, seemingly random fills only help things out with a sense of urgency and upcoming change. All of the guitar passages are executed flawlessly, even the heavier, more technical riffs seen on the beginning of "The Raven and the Rose." Both guitarists use a wise sense of dynamics when switching gears, whether it's from bruising tremolo riffs to sustained, encompassing power chords. This adds a lot of replay value to the album, in retrospect. Each song structure is carefully balanced to play off of the lyrics, which is something you don't see often in metal bands.

Aaron offers up one of his best performances here. His growls have been fine-honed to perfection, as seen on the bitter verses of "The Raven and the Rose" and through the course of "The Return to the Beautiful." This offers a startling counter-attack to his clean vocals, which have improved considerably; "My Hope the Destroyer" sees the outpouring of one of his best clean performances, and the desperate title track is another excellent example. Lyrically, not much has changed; the majority of the themes still revolve around love, loss, death, and the occasional tale of revenge and lust. It's all good though, because this is what the band succeed at, and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Overall, The Dreadful Hours may be MDB's most entertaining and best album all-around since Like Gods of the Sun or Turn Loose the Swans. Lovers of the band who haven't heard this album will thoroughly enjoy it as yet another grand opus from the band, and it proves to be a great introduction to the band, since this album in particular sees the apex of the doom/death style before the band headed into more gothic-tinged territory.

Highlights: "The Raven and the Rose," "A Cruel Taste of Winter," "My Hope the Destroyer," "The Return to the Beautiful."

The darkest of the dark - 97%

Sean16, April 9th, 2006

To get an idea of the mood of this album, just imagine you’re standing on a desolate plain by a very gloomy stormy night, looking in an old well filled with utterly dark water. Indeed, dark is the key word here. Some may praise Turn Loose the Swans as the best My Dying Bride release, but this sounds far more depressive and, in my opinion, better than Turn Loose the Swans. Over the years the band has managed to take the best of traditional doom metal (I’m referring to Candlemass or early Paradise Lost) and gothic metal without forgetting the death metal touch of their first albums, and even the avant-garde atmospheric experiments of the infamous 34.788%... Complete, to combine them into this unique piece of pure DESPAIR.

This album exhibits several tracks which sound close to the previous MDB opus The Light at the End of the World, like Black Heart Romance or A Cruel Taste Of Winter. But even in these tracks you can notice the slight difference which makes this album so exceptional. Because this work shows an undeniable GOTHIC feeling – which will be found again on the last to date MDB full-length Songs of Darkness, Words of Light. That may come from the slightly more tortured clean vocals from Aaron, or the impressive keyboard background due to guest keyboardist Johnny Maudlin of Bal-Sagoth fame. Keyboards which sound sometimes similar to the violin of the first MDB outfits (until Like Gods of the Sun), especially on My Hope, The Destroyer where they almost sound like a genuine violin, only more powerful. And, eventually, keyboards which have the good taste to shut up when the time has come, what is not so common.

Almost every song begins with a lively (hell, for doom metal of course) guitar-driven verse which generally in the middle of the track turns into a very slow melodic and emotional (in the best way) part more or less interrupted by heavier growled passages. Song structures are indeed complex and exhibiting a single pattern for the whole album would be rather hard. Clean vocals (predominant), growls, short atmospheric interludes, straightforward death-metal parts, spoken passages sometimes (in The Deepest Of All Hearts especially), and RIFFS alternate in the most perfect manner. Because yes, this album has riffs, both slow and raspy doom metal riffs which account for much in the melancholy of the work, and prevent it from falling into unstructured gothic/atmospheric garbage. Here might well be the secret of this genuine piece of art.

Each song sounds, of course, unique. The gorgeous The Raven And The Rose with its heavy as fuck verses, its both slow, melodic and pathetic bridge, its minimalist piano solo and its melancholic ending riff. My Hope, The Destroyer and its majestic keyboard intro. The 14 minutes long closing track The Return To The Beautiful which is pure tribute to the similarly named song on the band's debut As the Flower Withers and which is, as such, the most "death-metalish" song here. Without of course forgetting the darkest of the dark, the lowest of the low, the bottom of the well if you prefer, that is, the title track and the oddly named Le Figlie Della Tempesta (yes, a track sung in English with an Italian title, never understood why).

These two tracks, the most atmospheric and gothic-inspired of this release, aren’t similar to anything in the whole MDB discography. The inspiration for them might well be found in the experimental 34.788%... Complete album, coupled with, actually, the whole rest of the band’s works. Both of them exhibit sound landscapes, rain samples, and haunting semi-acoustic minimalist guitar parts alternating with heavier death/doom passages (The Dreadful Hours) or distorted choruses (Le Figlie Della Tempesta). This last song, crazily and hypnotically bass-driven, might well be the most hopeless and agonizing piece of work MDB ever recorded.

Lyrically all songs deal with love and death, with a strong emphasis on the last. But really, the band could have sung about flowers and butterflies than it wouldn’t have been less depressive, the music itself being amongst the saddest you might ever imagine.

Some may prefer the more direct, black-sabbath-ish doom metal of the 80’s doom bands, or may be disturbed by the gothic side of this work, preferring the rawer Turn Loose the Swans or As the Flower Withers. As far as I’m concerned I consider this album as the best release My Dying Bride did so far, and one of the best “dark metal” albums ever.

Highlights: The Raven And The Rose, Le Figlie Della Tempesta, A Cruel Taste Of Winter, My Hope-The Destroyer, The Deepest Of All Hearts

True Modern My Dying Bride.. at its best!! - 95%

WitheringToSerenity, September 21st, 2005

My Dying Bride return with The Dreadful Hours not necessarily as a return to their older form, but incorporating parts of their older sound with a new, fresh and refreshingly original sound. The style is reminiscent of their previous album The Light at The End of The World, with mournful slow-mid paced guitars at the forefront with keyboards used occasionally for adding extra effect to their darkly melancholic atmospheres.

Still alternating clean sorrowful vocals and death-ish growl vocals like Turn Loose the Swans MDB, but not quite as morbid vocally and the Aaron's clean vocals have improved and are dominant on this album with the exception of two tracks. The guitars are still chugging as heavy as ever(possibly their heaviest to date) but the absence of the violin has haunted My Dying Bride for quite some time. One other noticable observation is that the sound is much cleaner and better produced. You could say this is the perfect album if you are looking to discover this band because it is one of their most accessible and successful albums. One of the huge strengths is the consistency of this album.

If you are searching for more raw doom death in the vein of Turn Loose The Swans or Lost Paradise(Paradist Lost for those who don't know) I suggest you look elsewhere. For those looking for another unparallelled musical journey brought to you My Dying Bride, you have stopped at the right place.

Favorite tracks : The Raven and The Rose, Black Heart Romance, every other track on a weekly basis.

In retrospect, this is an intense album - 90%

yeentrancemperium, September 22nd, 2003

Let's just say that I'm a huge MDB fan, I've all the albums, etc so I will be biased.

This 2001 release is a true return to form, that is to the As The Flower Withers, Turn Loose the Swans era of aggressive, doomy metal. There are some really killer, heavy riffs on here, great for headbanging. Aaron is also in top form and he growls in a few songs, most notably in the rework of the classic The Return to the Beatiful. The sort of trademark slower, and clean parts are present, but this is indeed a good thing. The lyrics are very emotional, standard melancholic MDB material.

My favorites on here would be the title track, Black Heart Romance, My Hope the Destroyer and the Deepest of all Hearts.

I must say that the songs that the band plays live off this album sound really good. Especially My Hope, the Destroyer.

Dark.. - 89%

HawkMoon, August 11th, 2002

Metal Maniacs described this album as "Feverish, devilish and relevant". I hate those kinda wannabe-critics-quotes about albums, which has nothing to do with the music itself. I can agree to "relevant" though, since it is one of the better releases from My Dying Bride.

After a moody 2-minute intro on the title track and opener, we get the ingredients we're used to, no real surprises here (except when they at a couple of places suddenly break into a black metal-beat!), slow and heavy riffing.. Aaron's growling/whining combination, if you've heard 'The light at the end of the world' you know the deal.

And don't think you can get away from the bottom of the sea-deep mood this time either, for about 70 minutes in 8 tracks they're gonna make you wish to die once again.. without that they wouldn't be My Dying Bride anymore.

A solid album, not as good as 'The light at the end of the world' or 'Turn loose the swans' but it's got some aces in its sleeve.. for example "My hope, the destroyer" which has this keyboard intro that'll make you go "oh man this song is gonna be so dull" but then BAM! One of their best riffs to date is served, right in your face.