Classic In The Doom Metal Genre
I first discovered My Dying Bride (and the entire doom etal genre, for that matter) a little over a year ago. 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.
(Originally posted on ProgArchives.com)