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My Dying Bride

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

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My Dying Bride Turn Loose the Swans album cover
4.04 | 86 ratings | 11 reviews | 36% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1993

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Sear Me MCMXCIII (7:21)
2. Your River (9:24)
3. The Songless Bird (7:00)
4. The Snow in My Hand (7:08)
5. The Crown of Sympathy (12:15)
6. Turn Loose the Swans (10:08)
7. Black God (4:52)

Total Time 58:08

Bonus tracks on 2003 remaster:
8. Le Cerf Malade (6:31)
9. Transcending (Into the Exquisite) (8:39)
10. Your Shameful Heaven (live) (5:56)

Line-up / Musicians

- Aaron Stainthorpe / vocals
- Andrew Craighan / guitar
- Calvin Robertshaw / guitar
- Martin Powell / violin, keyboards
- Adrian Jackson / bass
- Rick Miah / drums

- Zena Choi / vocals (7)

Releases information

Artwork: Aaron Stainthorpe

CD Peaceville ‎- VILE 39CD (1993, UK)
CD Peaceville ‎- CDVILED 39 (2003, UK) Remastered with 3 bonus tracks

2LP Peaceville ‎- VILE 39 (1993, UK) New cover
2LP Peaceville ‎- VILELP39 (2014, UK)

Thanks to J-Man for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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MY DYING BRIDE Turn Loose the Swans ratings distribution

(86 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(36%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(34%)
Good, but non-essential (24%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

MY DYING BRIDE Turn Loose the Swans reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by J-Man
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.


"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.


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.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Turn Loose the Swans" is the 2nd full-length studio album by UK doom/death metal act My Dying Bride. The album was released through Peaceville Records in October 1993. Itīs the successor to "As the Flower Withers" from May 1992, although the two full-length albums are bridged by "The Thrash of Naked Limbs (1993)" EP from February 1993. Thereīs been one lineup change since the debut album as violinist/keyboard player Martin Powell joined My Dying Bride on a permanent basis before the recording sessions for "The Thrash of Naked Limbs (1993)". He did session work on the debut album, but as the band wanted to explore new ground and increase the dynamics of their music, it was decided that Powell should become a fulltime member of the band.

My Dying Bride had already this early on in their career established themselves as one of the leading doom/death metal artists on the early 90s scene with their slow, doomy, and über melancholic debut album and the two EPs bookending said album. "Turn Loose the Swans" is stylistically quite different from the previous releases by the band. Powellīs piano/keyboards and violin are given a lot of space and time on the tracks, and lead vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe now also sings clean vocal and performs spoken sections, in addition to his growling vocal parts, which make the vocal part of the music a much more varied listen than anything the band had released before. His poetic lyrics are slightly less cryptic than the case was on the debut album, but still require something from the listener.

"Turn Loose the Swans" is bookended by two piano and speaking/singing driven tracks in "Sear Me MCMXCIII" and "Black God" (the latter featuring additional female vocals by Zena Choi). The tracks also feature keyboards and violin, but they donīt feauture bass, guitars, or drums and as a consequence arenīt really metal oriented tracks, but rather a dark, gothic tinged type of music. The former is a variation on the themes from the "Sear Me" track from the debut album, and itīs a great atmospheric and melancholic opening to the album. The following track "Your River" also opens with a simple repeated melancholic clean guitar theme, but soon explodes in several more brutal doom/death oriented sections of riffs (an almost progressive structured opening to the track), before settling on an atmospheric clean vocal section. Itīs quite the adventurous track though, and develops a lot through its 9:24 minutes long playing time, and also features heavier death growling sections.

Both "The Songless Bird" and "The Snow in My Hand" are great varied tracks too with especially Powell shining with some soaring melancholic violin themes, but the 12:15 minutes long "The Crown of Sympathy" is to my ears the highlight of the album. Itīs a varied track featuring one of the most recognisable main riffs in the bandīs discography and one of Stainthorpeīs strongest vocal performances yet. The atmospheric middle section may be slightly too long to some ears, but the slow building keyboard driven section does have a climatic effect when the full band orchestration kicks in. The title track which follows is probably the most doom/death metal oriented track on the album, as a consequence of Stainthorpe predominantly performing growling vocals on the track.

"Turn Loose the Swans" features a detailed and well sounding production. Itīs not quite as heavy nor as brutal as the sound productions on the early releases by the band, but itīs a sound suiting the material perfectly. While "Turn Loose the Swans" is in many ways a transition album from the early doom/death releases to the gothic tinged doom metal of the next couple of albums, itīs in that space between I think My Dying Bride hit their most interesting combination of stylistic elements and to my ears itīs one of their most accomplished and memorable releases. Add to that the fact that it was a groundbreaking doom/death metal album upon release (nothing sounded like this in 1993), and a 5 star (100%) rating is fully deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by Warthur
4 stars My Dying Bride's intriguing combination of gothic atmosphere, death-influenced doom metal, shared male and female vocals and haunting violin took a while to grow on me, especially since critical favourite Turn Loose the Swans tended to leave me cold. I've turned a corner on it, though, now that I've realised that this isn't so much a purist take on the death-doom sound (as they'd offered on As the Flower Withers) so much as it's a surprisingly successful blending of their style of death-doom and neoclassical darkwave music along the lines of Dead Can Dance. Now that I have noticed that collection, suddenly everything's come into sharp focus and I can see where they're going with this, and I appreciate it much more as a result.
Review by EatThatPhonebook
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.

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
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.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars MY DYING BRIDE established a very unique metal style all the way back in 1990 when they formed and merged the disparate sub- genres of doom and death metal with Gothic rock. Along with Paradise Lost and Anathema, MY DYING BRIDE was a pioneer in establishing the marriage of doom and death metal but took a slightly different fork in the road when they created one of the most interesting avenues of the newly fused metal hybrid. After a series of EPs and their debut album 'As The Flower Withers,' MY DYING BRIDE immediately stood out for their inclusion of the violin which set a completely new tone in the metal universe and one which allowed the musical flow to evolve quite differently with the deathened growls and plodding doom riffs going along for the ride.

While the EPs and debut album instantly caught the attention of the underground metal scene, it was the band's second album TURN LOOSE THE SWANS that took it all to the next level and popularized the band's signature style that was completely unheard by the early 90s extreme mental crowds and had established a cornerstone of inspiration for various strains of doom / Gothic metal hybridization ever since. While the previous releases had taken more liberties in the death metal department with high tempo outbursts, TURN LOOSE THE SWANS slowed things down considerably and vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe restrained from the relentless growls and added more plaintive clean vocals as well as poetic spoken words. Likewise with the extreme metal speed toned down, the role of the violin became a major staple of the band which allowed melancholic atmospheric build ups to keep the musical flow steeped in lugubrious longevity.

Violinist Martin Powell was now a full member but also brought more cards to the table. He was also a keyboardist and added a whole new dimension to the band's established death doom sound with more liberties in orchestration and layers of atmospheric funereal melancholy which likewise allowed the music to develop at a slower pace with varying dynamics entering the scene. While diminished from the previous releases, the heavier passages with death growls are still present but now used more as crescendoes after long bouts of atmospheric doom build up reaching the logical apices. The album establishes its atmospheric prowess right from the beginning with the opening 'Sear Me MCMXCIII' which avoid any guitar, bass and drum metal aspects and instead ushers in a sequence of depressive piano arpeggios augmented with Stainthorpe's disconsolate Gothic vocal touches and a tear-inducing violin backdrop.

The album is actually bookmarked by this metal-free style as the closer 'Black God' follows suit in an even darker manner which includes the lovely feminine touch of Zena's vocal charm in conjunct with Stainthorpe's poetically spoken somberness. MY DYING BRIDE's second release TURN LOOSE THE SWANS has been describes as Bram Stoker's Dracula for the ears which is like a musical melodrama that takes on new Gothic heights in a metal context. The album was considered to be a landmark creative development in the hybridization of death-doom and Gothic metal but most of all cranked out an incredible plodding collection of orchestrated metal masterpieces with the longer tracks such as the transcendental 'The Crown Of Sympathy' stealing the show with its innovative progressive meanderings through different musical segments and stylistic juxtapositions. No sophomore slump here. This was only the beginning of a surprisingly long-lasting career and a metal masterpiece at that.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Being My Dying Bride, certainly a band I've always heard of, is one thing, but just the fact that it's purportedly 'Death-Doom' is another. Not the biggest fan of the latter component, but have a lot of love in the former (I mean, Tech Death at its best is Prog, so...). I just felt like I was re ... (read more)

Report this review (#2694826) | Posted by DangHeck | Tuesday, February 22, 2022 | Review Permanlink

3 stars One album under their belt, and British doomsters My Dying Bride were already looking for new horizons and exploring new ways to express themselves. The aspect of Turn Loose the Swans that I found the most striking is how fearlessly experimental its seven tracks are. In the early 1990s metal was at ... (read more)

Report this review (#2635462) | Posted by lukretio | Friday, November 19, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Turn loose the swans is solid, sad, heavy, drab, and full of that Gothic gloom that I love. The album is a great piece of music because of the progressive tendencies, the violin and keyboard parts, and at the center, its Gothic death/doom metal. With an hours length and only seven songs (on the stan ... (read more)

Report this review (#2454468) | Posted by progtime1234567 | Tuesday, October 6, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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 de ... (read more)

Report this review (#258938) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Saturday, January 2, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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