My Dying Bride - Turn Loose The Swans
From promising beginnings, genre trailblazers My Dying Bride would begin to fully flesh out their depressive death-doom sound on their sophomore release, Turn Loose The Swans. Changes abound, from more varied vocals to a keener sense of songwriting. The direction of the music is sharper, more focused. Aaron Stainthorpe finally finds his niche with a painful persistence behind his slightly strangled approach, eschewing the more death metal-appropriate growls of past work. Overall, it all comes together notably better for the band this time around.
"Sear Me MCMXCIII" is the next installment of what turned out to be a 3-part song stretched over multiple records, and opens the record by highlighting the new elements of the band's repetoire. With an elegant mix of keys and violin painting a backdrop to Stainthorpe's dramatic verse, it sets a haunting fog of an atmosphere. "Your River" pushes that atmosphere into it's intro before ripping into a dirge of pounding drums, jagged riffs and a deeply cut groove. This is one of MDB's best songs of their early years, easily filling 9+ minutes and making it feel like half as much. "The Songless Bird" is a bit on the meandering side, never fully realizing the potential of a few memorable moments. "The Snow In My Hand" works a bit better, easily shifting tempos from slow doom to mid-paced death metal and back again. "The Crown Of Sympathy" is my favorite Turn Loose The Swans track, a wonderful 12 minutes of thick, overbearing melodrama. The title track doesn't disappoint, and "Black God" offers a tragic outro, with female guest vocals draping over depressed violin melody and Aaron's ode to heartache.
Without a doubt, Turn Loose The Swans was the point in time when My Dying Bride found their voice. They would continue to refine it with future releases, but there is a specific feeling to this record, an undercurrent of some unnamed emotion that gives it a unique place amongst their discography to date. The increased focus on depressive moodscapes and gothic atmosphere couples magnificently with their solid metal foundations to create what one reviewer once dubbed as "Bram Stoker's 'Dracula' for the ears".
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