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My Dying Bride - Turn Loose The Swans CD (album) cover

TURN LOOSE THE SWANS

My Dying Bride

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal


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3 stars An hour with sadness and fury.

The second My Dying Bride album is a mix of funeral dirges, some catchy riffs and outburst of furious anger. Just like a depression.

My Dying Bride takes symphonic doom metal to another level on this album. Not to a more extreme or symphonic level than the debut album As Flowers Wither....... but still to a new level. Most of the songs and the riffs here are surprisingly catchy. That is the major change from As Flowers Wither. That and the more use of clean vocals instead of just death growls. The use of violin is also pretty good here. This album is obviously a transitional album between As Flowers Wither and third album The Angel And The River. My only gripe is the lack of any really good songs like the ones the debut album had. The album is also a bit repetetive and not as symphonic as As Flowers Wither. It is more back the basic doom metal here. But it is still a great album and one I recommend.

3.5 stars

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Send comments to toroddfuglesteg (BETA) | Report this review (#258938)
Posted Saturday, January 02, 2010 | Review Permalink
J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A Classic In The Doom Metal Genre

I discovered Turn Loose The Swans not very long ago actually. I had been really getting into some more extreme metal, so it was only a matter of time before I checked out My Dying Bride. This was my introduction to the band, and it turned me into an instant fan of the band.

I first bought this album not really knowing what to expect. I had heard it called "doom metal", but I really had no idea what that sounded like. I was expecting something crushingly heavy, dark, and scary. While I was right on all 3 accounts, I had no idea how beautiful this album would be. The lush arrangements using Martin Powell's talent on piano and violin immediately captivated me, the dark melodies would stay in my head for days on end, and the musicianship was top-notch.

What really grabbed my attention were the intricate details that set this apart from others in the death/doom metal genre. This often has multiple melodies at once, excellent progressions from section to section, and great riffs and rhythms. This album would actually hold a lot of interest to fans of progressive rock, to be honest.

What makes this stand out for progressive rock fans is mostly the presence of Martin Powell on piano and violin. The albums My Dying Bride released without him just aren't the same. The violin is excellent, and it sets a dark and gloomy feel to the entire album. If you're looking for really happy and uplifting music, you won't find it here. But if you're a fan of progressive metal like Opeth, you'd be surprised how much My Dying Bride has in common with them.

This album is near perfect from beginning to end. Every song has memorable riffs and melodies, and this album is addictive and always demands more listens. This is one of those albums that will not allow you to listen to it 5 times and be done with it. After 3 or 4 listens you begin to understand the album, and it only gets better from there. This is one of the most demanding albums in my collection, as it is not easy listening. Kind of like RIO/Avant Prog I guess, even though MDB has nothing in common with the genre. You can't just put this on while you're doing something else, as it demands your undivided attention.

THE MUSIC:

"Sear Me MCMXCII"- The first song is a complete masterpiece. The haunting piano and violin melodies with the low vocals work perfectly. This song contains no bass, drums, or guitar. This is just the piano, violin, and vocals. The formula is perfect, and when you ad enchanting melodies and harmonies on top of that you have a masterpiece. This is one of my favorites from the album.

"Your River"- After the dark and gloomy first song, this makes no changes. It opens with a haunting and repetitive guitar riff, and just gets better from there. This is followed by an avant-sounding section that progresses into a great prog metal section. Heavy melodic riffs with beautiful violin melodies work excellently. It soon turns into an excellent riff with great drumming. The 3-minute opening is surely the highlight, but the rest is excellent as well. This is a really great song with great progression of riffs. This tones down the dark and gothic tone from the previous song, and it is frequently upbeat and heavy. Great song!

"The Songless Bird"- This song starts with a very avant progressive metal sounding riff. The unusual drum beats and guitar effects set a great mood. The opening to this song is excellent, but it soon goes into a goth-rock influenced vocal section. This has a great softer section in the middle with spacey guitar riffs and violin melodies. This is a really good song, but it isn't my favorite from the album. Some moments seem a little repetitive and are lacking in really high quality riffs.

"The Snow In My Hand"- Again, this song opens with another progressive opening. There are crushing metal riffs with melodic violin. The riffs and melodies are solid throughout the song, and this is one of the best on the album. I love Aaron's vocals here especially. He doesn't do anything extremely difficult, but he has a very unique voice. The outro is excellent.

"The Crown of Sympathy"- At over 12 minutes, this is the longest song on the album. This starts out with an avant-sounding section that is very captivating. Parts of this sounds almost like if Metallica added a violin player and got some avant garde influences. Near about 5 and a half minutes in, the darkest section of the album enters. It reminds me of one of those Halloween soundtracks. It is dark and gloomy with the sound of church bells, always reminding me of a graveyard. This sets an excellent mood for the rest of the song. The electronic-sounding drums really create the atmosphere in this section. The trumpets that soon enter fit excellently. The song has a conclusive outro that brings this epic song to an end. This is one of my favorite songs in My Dying Bride's discography.

"Turn Loose The Swans"- This has another excellent opening that sets the mood for the rest of the song. Overall this is one of my least favorite songs from the album, though. Some parts feel disjointed and unneeded. This still has its fair share of excellent violin melodies, though.

"Black God"- The last song reminds me of the opening track because of the soft, yet dark and depressing mood that is set. This song builds off of a beautiful an dark piano melody, leading to one of my favorite songs on the album. The violin and piano work together perfectly. The low, almost spoken-word vocals of Aaron Stainthorpe work perfectly, while the feminine vocals add an excellent touch. This song is by no stretch of the imagination a happy song, but it is surely magnificent. This is a great way to end the album.

Conclusion:

Turn Loose The Swans is a really excellent album and is a classic in the doom metal genre. You'd be surprised how many progressive elements this album holds. The epic song structures and the beautiful piano and violin melodies will appeal to fans of progressive metal bands like Opeth and Anathema. Keep in mind that this is a gloomy album, and it's not for you if you're not into a dark and unsettling album. Still, this is a really high-quality album that is highly recommended from me. This is a 4-4.5 star album. I'm not going to go with a 5 star rating yet, but I really sense that this album will grow on me even more in the future.

4 stars.

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Send comments to J-Man (BETA) | Report this review (#260257)
Posted Sunday, January 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Turn Loose the Swans is the 2nd full-length studio album by UK experiemental doom/ death metal act My Dying Bride. The album was released through Peaceville Records in October 1993. Turn Loose the Swans features 7 tracks and a total playing time of 58:08 minutes. The bandīs debut album As the Flower Withers (1992) is widely considered one of the classics in the doom/ death metal genre but it was with Turn Loose the Swans that My Dying Bride began incorporating experimental/ progressive elements to their music.

Thereīs been quite a few changes to the music since As the Flower Withers. The most important change is that lead vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe now sings clean vocal parts in addition to his brutal growls. I remember this was something my friends and I were very surprised by back in 1993. Aaron Stainthorpeīs clean vocals are warm, deep and pleasant. Filled with melancholic emotion. He is one of those vocalists that arenīt necessarily very technically skilled but pulls it off anyway because they are unique and burn for what they do. The music itself has become much more sophisticated and intriguing than was the case on As the Flower Withers. The addition of new member Martin Powell on violin and keyboards elevates the music to a whole new level. Martin Powell had guested on As the Flower Withers and made his first apperance as a permanent member of My Dying Bride on the 1992 EP The Thrash of Naked Limbs, but itīs on Turn Loose the Swans that he really makes his presence be heard for real. His importance for My Dying Bride at this state in their career should not be underestimated. While his keyboard/ piano playing works great and really enhances the atmosphere on the album, his violin playing is simply wonderful. His lines are not very complicated but they are beautiful and melancholic. Songs like the opening Sear Me MCMXCIII which consists solely of piano/ keyboards, violin and clean vocals and the album closer Black God which is in a similar style just with added female vocals, would not have been possible without the violin.

The 5 tracks that are bookended by the two above mentioned tracks mix sections with heavy doomy guitar riffing and more subtle melancholic sections with clean guitars and violin. Songs like Your River and The Crown of Sympathy have what I perceive as progressive structures. Lots of different sections and while there are recognisable parts that return none of the songs on the album have traditional vers/ chorus structures. The songs are mostly slow paced but there are mid-paced parts too. The dynamics are really powerful when you go from subtle beautiful parts to the more brutal doom/ death parts on the album. A kind of light/ dark effect thatīs traditional today but wasnīt back then. Acts such as Opeth and Anathema owe a lot to My Dying Bride. The album is very coherent and all tracks are of high quality. The above mentioned Your River and especially The Crown of Sympathy have always been my favorites though. The Crown of Sympathy is so beautiful and majestic but it also features one of the most heavy riffs on the album. A real treat. The title track is the track with most growling vocals and itīs probably the track which is most akin to regular mid-paced death metal on the album but itīs still intriguing and experimental and far from traditional. I guess I only lack to mention The Songless Bird and The Snow in My Hand which of course should not be forgotten. Both are high quality tracks with interesting structures and dark melancholic emotions.

The production is professional and suits the music perfectly.

Turn Loose the Swans holds a special place in my collection and it will probably always remain my favorite My Dying Bride album. I got this album when I was 16 years old and absolutely worshipped it. Iīve sat in my teenage room countless times playing the riffs from this album on my guitar and Turn Loose the Swans was a huge inspiration on my own music in those days. So forgive me if my rating will reflect a nostalgic view on the album. Iīve had various periods in my life where I didnīt listen much to My Dying Brideīs music, but when Iīve returned to the fold itīs always been Turn Loose the Swans that initiated my return. This is a classic album in the doom/ death genre but donīt dismiss the albumīs progressive qualities just because itīs first and foremost a doom/ death metal album. There are lots of experimental and intriguing ideas that fully qualifies Turn Loose the Swans to be called an experimental/ progressive metal album. For me this is a 5 star album. I can highly recommend Turn Loose the Swans as the perfect entry point to My Dying Brideīs quite extensive discography.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#266841)
Posted Thursday, February 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars MDB went through a huge change since their first album. They've left their most radical side behind them and turned their morose thoughts inwardly to produce a more introspective album. The gruff vocals are less prominent and even the distorted guitars sometimes have to play second fiddle. This change has shifted a lot of the attention to the atmospheric piano, clean guitars and violin contributions.

Sear Me is a minor key piano piece with low talking voice, violin and even some blows on a brass section. Without the morbid spoken voice of Aaron this could almost have been a Dead Can Dance track. Your River is a trademark MDB piece, alternating symphonic quiet sections with stormy outbursts of doom death metal. The quality wavers a bit on The Songless Bird. After the great opening bars, the vocals and guitars sound less inspired. Still there's a great middle section with clean guitar picking and electric lead guitar that harmonizes with the ever prominent violin. Martin Powell's violin was already an notable feature on the debut but it's become much more important and better integrated now. It adds a very distinct melodic element in the music and brings in some light and charm in the dense MDB sound.

MDB never had the musical prowess to match the usual virtuosity of progressive metal, but their song writing approach is sure unrestricted. Most of the tracks are extended pieces with song structures that are mostly scenic in nature, going from one movement to another without obvious verse-chorus repetitions. Combined with the harmonic role of the violin, it provides for very interesting listening pleasure. Of course the slow repetitive pace and harsh nature of the music will not be everybody's taste. But then nothing is everybody's taste.

The album ends beautifully with Black God. Dark piano chords and a lyrical violin create a dark romantic atmosphere where Aaron's spoken word alternates with soft female guest vocals. A nice touch.

Turn Loose The Swans isn't my preferred MDB release and I'd rate it around 3.5 stars. I might still round it up later on as it is certainly one of their most defining and recommended releases. And given the obvious influence on Opeth and Agalloch, fans of the darker side of those bands will certainly want to seek it out.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#267314)
Posted Sunday, February 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars My Dying Bride's intriguing combination of gothic atmosphere, death-influenced doom metal, shared male and female vocals and haunting violin should really appeal to me far more than it does. Instead, like fellow goth-doom-death pioneers Paradise Lost, they leave me cold - at least on this album. They do a good job of the compositions, performance, and production, but the whole affair feels rather sterile and lifeless to me - the riffs lack teeth, the vocals seem more bored than depressed, and the use of violin is novel but lacks variety. On the whole, I just don't get it, but fans of the death/doom fusion pioneered by the Peaceville stable at that time will probably have fun with it.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#613595)
Posted Friday, January 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
EatThatPhonebook
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 8/10

"Turn Loose The Swans" is a gothic masterpiece of hopelessness intertwining with crushing beauty.

My Dying Bride's sophomore album puts the band high on the Olympus of Doom Metal bands; still today, this band is one of the most respected acts of Metal music, receiving something like a cult status.

Doom Metal in 1993 wasn't exactly the most popular kind of music that was metal-oriented: this genre though has been one with a very interesting fan-base, and a genre that has a well-respected history that goes way back, from the early Black Sabbath days. My Dying Bride is a major symbol of evolution in Doom Metal, a band that distanced themselves from the "Traditional" Doom Metal sound typical of bands like Pentagram, Candlemass or Trouble. Although there were bands that incorporated Death Metal and keyboards slightly before the arrival of My Dying Bride, the British band, along maybe with diSEMBOWLMENT, was the first to make Doom Metal more recognized.

"Turn Loose The Swans" has all of the traits of the genre: low-octave, slow, heavy riffs and desperately gloomy lyrics. But the bluesy, retro-feel Traditional Doom sound here is nowhere to be found. Instead, we have an excellent production, Death Metal passages,-- usually the heavier ones-- and a great dose of atmosphere, created by keyboards or various effects. Another important addition that really gives a touch of elegancy to the songwriting is the violin, very frequent even in the heavier moments, or the piano driven moments. All this together makes My Dying Bride's "Turn Loose The Swans" a very ambitious, almost progressive album, with many twists and turns, short and long cuts that still aim towards a precise and effective scope.

Starting with the seven minute, piano driven "Sear Me MCMXCIII", a desolate, grief-inducing introduction to the general atmosphere of the album, My Dying Bride go full force with "Your River", where they vent extremely intriguing songwriting, great performances, and a desperate feeling that might even discomfort the listener. The desolation persists especially with the twelve minute "the Crown Of Sympathy", one of the key moments of the album, a wonderfully arranged, complex, and multi-parted track that is haunting as well as terrifying. Some of the heavier moments, like "The Snow In My Hand" or the title track, are more focused on actual songwriting instead of creating gloomy auras, but the closing track "Black God", as beautiful as it is, is more repetitive and once again more focused on the atmospheric delivery.

"Turn Loose the Swans" is one of the key Doom Metal albums of all time; essential listening for whoever is into Metal music. It's almost unearthly despair still give the chills today.

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Send comments to EatThatPhonebook (BETA) | Report this review (#743828)
Posted Tuesday, April 24, 2012 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpää
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This album is the greatest achievement of My Dying Bride for me. The soothing presence of violin and synthesizer has been fully adapted to the group's sound, and the shifts from clean vocals to growling both enhances the contrasts in power dynamics and allow sense of dialogue on some occasions. The composition quality is best from the band's albums that I have yet heard, and they form a solid aural voyage to realms of romanticized aggression and gloominess.

The "Sear Me" anthem from earlier record has been arranged as a long ethereal album introduction, revealing instantly the more tender new emphasis of the group. Though the piano lines are quite primitive, the intro manages to create nice feelings, leading then to series of really powerful "art metal symphony" songs. "Your River" starts to flow from echoing calm guitar string pickings, crashing then to rapids of three forceful riff sequences. After some neat transitional phases the slow solemn descending theme for vocals and long guitar chords starts to recite their sad tales. The guitar themes presented on the beginning of the song are later revisited on the composition, after some adventures in doom metal styled still life from an oppressing winter landscape. I personally like these slow paced glances, and rejoice the lack of "wild guitar solos", which would not have suited in my opinion to these carefully constructed song or the solid integrity of the music. I have understood a swan being considered as a "Songless Bird", and a song with this name follows. Quite stoned drowning in doom metal swamp is evident after some synthesizer introductions, leading later to a very beautiful redemption on medieval appearing ascending motifs. Knife sharp cut to a powerful trashing works convincingly, creating a song that circles pleasantly the extremities of the group's musical stylistic palette. "The Snow in My Hand" continues this philosophy, by starting as contemplative mellow yearning, then more sinister aspects blowing over with full throttle, and only for a moment resting at melodically wonderful eye of a storm. This composition returns to the beginning's theme with touching melodic support from violin on circular form, a concept which is also adopted to the whole album.

The two next long songs coronize this wonderful album with their melodic beautifulness and determination on slow tempo nightmare dreaming. "The Crown of Sympathy" evolves neatly over a large dramatic curve and explores some very ethereal ghastly territories on theatrical narrative sequences. The title track of the album continues the flow of music logically with really wonderful melodic guitar and violin theme merging with deeper aggressive phases. The conclusion after heavy guitar construction manoeuvres leaves a touching impression of real sorrow and experienced human drama. Final track "Black God" closes the album with similar methods as the record was opened, leaving behind an awesome record of gloomy moody music for the moonlit winter nights, and an album I personally consider as masterpiece of heavier rock music with serious attempts towards self-expressionism and controlled building of sceneries for people to behold in awe. I also possess it as an artefact from my own personal history, this nostalgia relevant only for my own experience.

I did not listen much to the following releases of the group, except from few tracks and scarce run-throughs on some parties many years ago. I remember both "The Angel and The Dark River" and "The Light at The End of The World" being quite promising, and I might return to study them later if the inspiration for such listening should sparkle. However some of my tests from mid 1990's and 21st century releases of this group were not totally convincing.

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Send comments to Eetu Pellonpää (BETA) | Report this review (#873087)
Posted Friday, December 07, 2012 | Review Permalink

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