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"Dark beauty and cold power" - 91%

Voice_of_Unreason, June 13th, 2003

This album is just utterly enthralling, for every second of its length it holds the listeners attention with its dark beauty and cold power. Each of the seven songs are notable in themselves but 'Turn…' must be listened to as a whole to be fully appreciated.

The first and last tracks, 'Sear Me MCMXIII' and 'Black God', feature not a single note played by guitar, bass or drums, instead relying on sombre piano and violin melodies to drive the songs. Aaron’s dark, poetic lyrics are delivered in a low singing voice that perfectly fits the tone of the songs. When the guitars do appear they are slow and crushing but carry the melody of each song brilliantly, each riff is given time to grow and breath before changing to keep the song moving. Nothing outstays it’s welcome and despite the bands tendency to repeat passages everything stays sounding fresh even after extreme repetition.

This is especially important due to the mostly slow pace of the songs, even when MDB choose to speed up slightly as they do on 'The Songless bird' you can be sure that a snail-paced doomy part is never far away. The atmosphere is kept consistently melancholic and bitter throughout; the lyrics vary between tales of love, insanity and pain, as well some vicious attacks on Christianity. As far as metal lyrics go these are some of the most memorable I have heard, and give depth and weight to the music around them. Aaron’s delivery is certainly an acquired taste, his clean voice is a bit weak at times but this seems to actually add to the sorrowful atmosphere and it fits the lyrics perfectly.

Each instrument holds it’s own and the musicians show considerable skill without ever feeling the need to go off on a “technical” session which would detract from the overall impact of the material. The utilisation of the violin in the mix as a main instrument is one factor that sets MDB apart from their peers. Unfortunately in modern times we have become accustomed to hideously cheesy string arrangements from many terrible bands, but here we can see what it can sound like if done properly. Martin’s slow tragic melodies complement the riffs and bring the music a strangely relaxing feel, but not in a puts-you-to-sleep way.

The production deserves a mention for the clarity and quality of each instrument within the overall mix. The drums may be slightly too quiet in places but this is not obvious and most of the time they propel the songs where they are going without just becoming background noise. All the songs are of similar quality in their song writing and individual performances but my favourites would have to be 'Your river' and 'The crown of sympathy' simply because they seem to combine the aggressive and melodic sides of the band most seamlessly switching from harsh to haunting at a moments notice.

This album is the highlight of a prestigious career and a landmark for the doom genre as a whole. If it’s not in your collection, shame on you.