MY DYING BRIDE — The Dreadful Hours (review)

MY DYING BRIDE — The Dreadful Hours album cover Album · 2001 · Death-Doom Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
Always one to experiment, MY DYING BRIDE perhaps went a little too far with their misstep into the unknown for the fanbase with “34.788%…Complete” which found the band adding all kinds of wild new ideas. While some like alternative metal suited the band’s signature goth doom sound to a T, others such as trip hop didn’t quite jive and although many including myself found the album to be descent, the overall consensus was that MY DYING BRIDE had hit their stride on “Like Gods Of The Sun” and were in free fall decline, however after the clarity of returning to their signature sound was once again a priority, the band bounced back with “The Light At The End Of The World” which proved they had more than enough life in them and while the album was a fine return to form and an admirable comeback, it wasn’t up to par with the high notes of “Turn Loose The Swans” and “The Angel And The Dark River.”

On THE DREADFUL HOURS, the band’s seventh studio album and first of the 21st century, the fiery creative passion that had made MY DYING BRIDE such a sensation in the early years had returned and released one of the band’s finest albums with eight outrageously delectable tracks that not only were connected to their past goth-tinged death doom days but found yet more ways to incorporate new musical elements into their, by this time, classic unmistakeable stylistic approach. The band’s core remained the same with Aaron Stainthorpe displaying his amazing range of vocal styles with the usual plaintive romantic crooning as well as an increased use of the death growls however on THE DREADFUL HOURS he expands his extreme metal vocals to include a more blackened growl approach which reminds me of Behemoth’s Nergal.

Guitarist Andrew Craighan provided the sole guitar parts on the previous album after the departure of Calvin Robertshaw and joining the crew on this album is guitarist Hamish Glencross, who with Craighan provide a more deadly twin guitar attack as they not only tackle the usual plodding doom riffs but engage in heavier high tempo death metal segments as well as adding palm muting thrash techniques to their doom riffage. The rhythm center of bassist Adrian Jackson and drummer Shaun Taylor-Steels also exercise greater liberties in their playing as each instrument takes on a more expansive role. The bass duties have become more complex and the drumming more experimental as well. While no violinist has returned, the two session keyboardists Jonny Mauding and Yasmin Ahmed dish out tasteful doses of piano tinklings, atmospheric overcast and mood modification mostly set to mournful depression.

With eight tracks that range from five minutes to over fourteen, MY DYING BRIDE cranks out one of the most diverse set lists (well not counting 34.778%) of their career with every element finding the perfect place to express itself. One of the major differences from the past is the incorporation of post-rock elements as heard on the opening title track which sounds more like an Isis album until it erupts into a death-doom frenzy. The compositions have become more complex and progressive as segments segue into others and various riffs, drumming patterns and bass lines slowly shapeshift into something completely new while the haunting atmospheric backdrop nudges it into a new comfort zone. The chemistry of this team is certainly off the charts as it has provided a new energized passion that keeps all the various tracks quite distinct from each other with countless different instrumental spontaneity erupting throughout.

The beauty of MY DRYING BRIDE is that they so successful captured their own distinct sound so early on in their game that have the ability to pretty much adapt any musical idea to the goth death-doom paradigm. Basically Stainthorpe provides the backbone to the band’s style with his charismatic vocal style with an extra anchor in the atmospheric department, however the guitar, bass and drums are pretty much allowed to do whatever they want provided they stay within the confines of the melodies. Such is the case for all of the tracks which to the casual listener will sound like business as usual but to the careful listener will find new rhythmic flows, creative instrumental interplay and a greater focus on shifting timbres, dynamics, tempos and vocals. This is perhaps my favorite MY DYING BRIDE album as it perfectly balances all the various elements which include the goth death doom metal, darkwave ambient and alternative metal with the usual sombre poetic vocal deliveries of Stainthorpe. MY DYING BRIDE not only made a comeback from their nadir but hit one of the highest notes in this apex of their entire career.
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Warthur wrote:
2 months ago
It's my favourite of theirs too - their early albums were solid, but I think they needed to do a bit of exploration and stretch their wings a bit before they could really dominate on their home turf.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
2 months ago
I was wondering what was wrong with you! I have to admit that it didn't stand out the first time around for me either but once the band's style sunk in it blew me away.
UMUR wrote:
2 months ago
I´m in the process of re-wriring my review of this one, as it initially didn´t do much for me, but it has grown on me a lot, and today I consider it one of the standout albums in MDB´s discography.

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