My Dying Bride - The Dreadful Hours
More than a decade into their run as one of the world's more prominent and pioneering metal acts, My Dying Bride would make another truly lasting statement with The Dreadful Hours. Going all the way back to 1996 and their brilliant Like Gods Of The Sun, the following handful of records would be bogged down by inconsistencies or outright failures of experimentation, production values and lackluster songwriting. Numerous lineup shifts could also be seen as catalysts for an average (at best) era for the band. But The Dreadful Hours would put a swift end to all that, with a rejuvinated My Dying Bride crafting a 70-minute hallmark of depressive metal.
The flow and chemistry of the band is in full swing, something that seemed to be a conflicting point in the past. The majestic and morose atmosphere the band so effortlessly conjured up on past works comes to total fruition once again. The title track opens with the damp, dreary sounds of a rain shower and muted guitar melodies. The song takes it's time building into an angry beast, forced ahead by some of Aaron Stainthorpe's best vocal work. Having finally refined the duality between his softer, choked and pained rasps and his more gut-wrenching, throat-piercing aggressive style, his presence on this album is as vital as it ever was before. Each track offers a memorable experience, from the brilliant guitar work of "The Raven And The Rose" to the stalking ghost melodies of "Le Figlie Della Tempesta". "Black Heart Romance" and my personal favorite, "A Cruel Taste Of Winter", offer excellent single material relative to My Dying Bride's style. Closing the record is a well-chosen and well-done recreation of one of the best tracks from the band's debut album in "The Return To The Beautiful".
Hitting on all cylinders was perhaps more rare for My Dying Bride than some would have prefered, but there's no doubting that when it happened, the results were something to behold. The Dreadful Hours is basically '1-A' in terms of the best of the band's discography, alongside the game-changing Like Gods Of The Sun, but there are many who prefer it to it's predecesor by far. Of course, the biggest feat accomplished here is that this album came over 10 years into the band's history, and it's a fair guess to say that it has given them the staying power to still be on the scene today, another 10+ years after the fact.
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