It's been a while. But, then again, even a year is long to be without a new My Dying Bride offering. Be that as it may, with "The Dreadful Hours" My Dying Bride have delivered yet another masterpiece for the melancholically inclined and others of a generally not so very happy persuasion, if not the terminally suicidal. So be it.

After the rather too experimental "34.788%...Complete" (an album that did grow on me quite a bit except for that horrible "Heroin Chick" track), the band went back to their roots with the epic (some say long-winded) "The Light at the End of the World". I was happy with that, because I liked the 'original' My Dying Bride sound more. Evolution is not always a good thing. I don't personally like change too much. It's always an area of tension between a band's natural inclination to grow and a fan's inclination to like everything that's more or less like the debut album. My Dying Bride have changed once again, though, but now with a much smaller step. They took their classic sound and style, injected a smidgen of the "34.788%..." album, and came up with the familiar yet subtly different "The Dreadful Hours".

In general, the album is slow-paced. Additionally, generous helpings of doom have been eased on top of melodies too depressingly melancholic to contemplate. This is evident right away with the opening title track, which seems in fact like several songs rolled into one. Some people say that My Dying Bride was nudged back into their familiar niche, that they will have to continue to make similar music because fans didn't take kindly to the experiments on a certain album. That may be true to some extent, however the inspiration is too evident to miss. And besides, they did manage to work in novel elements - or, rather, elements that hark back to The Experimental Album. And to general good effect, it has to be said.

"The Dreadful Hours" contains quite long-spun tracks, all of them very melancholic and full of the doom mentioned above. In some warpedly cathartic way, it's quite an uplifting experience. The more or less experimental side of My Dying Bride surfaces in a track like "Black Heart Romance" (seventies ingredient), while most of the tracks incorporate some of the Experimental Album sound (a bit more synth, some undistorted guitar, unusual passages here and there).

The album wraps up with a good version of the 15+ minute classic "The Return to the Beautiful" (originally on "As the Flower Withers", their full-length debut from 1992). Pretty excellent.

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Written November 2001


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