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A Landmark Gothic Metal Album (Edited) - 97%

Gothic_Metalhead, February 3rd, 2019
Written based on this version: 1993, CD, Peaceville Records

(This review has been moved and edited from my previous profile punkmetalhead which is now deleted)

During the early 1990s, Paradise Lost were breaking new ground in the extreme metal scene for slowing down the tempo and rhythms of death metal and combining that sound with their love of doom metal like Black Sabbath and Candlemass. A band that followed suit was fellow peaceville band My Dying Bride, who released their first album "As The Flower Whiters" two years after Paradise Lost first album. Like Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride starting breaking boundaries within death metal by combining their love of Candlemass into their own music. However, by 1993, My Dying Bride began reaching for a more melodic but still aggressive tone with their second album "Turn Loose The Swans." Strange as it sounds, "Turn Loose The Swans" might be the most underrated gothic metal album. It has been highly classified as a landmark album in doom metal and death-doom, but started to change up their direction to incorporate more gothic elements with the release of this legendary album. What was going on during the time "Turn Loose the Swans" was released, Paradise Lost had recently moved into gothic metal with their fourth album "Icon," Type O Negative released the groundbreaking "Bloody Kisses" back in the United States, and Anathema (still in their death-doom roots) had just released their first album "Serenades." So what did "Turn Loose The Swans" do so differently that became a contribution to the recently developed gothic metal scene?

To start, out of all the peaceville three, My Dying Bride were the first to move into a more melodic and dark direction in their music. This was heard in the first track "Sear Me MCMXCIII," where the track in its entirety is a dark piano song with Aaron Stainthorpes muttering melancholic vocals The first track gives the listener a dark atmosphere of what the rest of the album has in store, as "Turn Loose The Swans" will feature a lot of dark moments thanks to the use of keyboards and piano. "Turn Loose The Swans" also has songs that are considered to be more death-doom than gothic. An example being the fourth track, The Snow in My Hand. Sure the song starts with a melancholic opening but by the next few minutes sped up into more death metal territory. The song is showing that the album can go two ways without completely abandoning its aggressive behavior. They continue to do that with the title track of "Turn Loose The Swans" as well. However, unlike Paradise Lost with theire first three albums, My Dying Bride has more diverse vocal approach than to just do death growls. While it still death-doom songs they are doing, adding singing to their songs gives My Dying Bride more sensitivity to their music.

My favorite track off of "Turn Loose The Swans" is "The Crown of Sympathy," a twelve minute epic song that represents dark and powerful atmosphere that would become synonymous to future gothic metal bands. The song makes due of doom inspired guitar and throughout the song, it remains a depressing, slow, and atmospheric piece of work thanks to Aaron's depressing vocals, violin sounds, and a part where it has its own keyboard that brings more darkness midway into the song. After the super slow chugs of the death-doom sound of the title track, the album ends with yet another dark piano song with Aaron muttering in the background called "Black God," where it sums up the end of the album as it gives the listener a feeling of a dark and mournful end.

"Turn Loose The Swans" is no doubt an influential album within the doom and death-doom metal scenes, however it also left an impact to the gothic metal sub genre during the time where the pioneering bands were moving away from their aggressive sound. While Paradise Lost was still talking about angry things at the time they released "Icon," My Dying Bride made both death-doom and gothic metal more sensitive and romantic. Simple lyrical themes of romanticism, religion, and loneliness as well as having dark atmospheres from piano and keyboards can make listeners who are interested in gothic metal feel more sadness in a good way. The guitar riffs and tone was really well crafted and had fantastic hooks that gives it that death-doom sound from almost all its songs. Upon listening to it for the first time, I remember being in awe with how both beautiful and dark it sounded. At the time I was only listening to few gothic metal bands, and upon listening to "Turn Loose The Swans," it helped me discover My Dying Bride and "Turn Loose The Swans" became one of my all time favorite metal albums. "Turn Loose The Swans" and My Dying Bride in general is a great underrated band to start with when you already heard Type O Negative and Lacuna Coil.