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The Haunting Of Bly Manor The Newton Brothers Main

The Haunting of Bly Manor Album Review

Written by Richie Corelli

Released by Waxworks Records

the haunting of bly manor the newton brothers poster large

Composed by The Newton Brothers
Format: Streaming / 180 Gram 2xLP Vinyl
2021

Review:

In 2018, Mike Flanagan, having already built an impressive resumé as a genre film director, cemented his name as a master of contemporary horror with Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House. Flanagan and his team created a loose, but compelling take on Shirley Jackson’s 1959 classic book of the same name. This past fall, Flanagan and company struck again. This time, they looked to Henry James’ 1898 novella The Turn of the Screw as the main source for inspiration.

Much of the cast and some of the crew from Hill House packed their moving boxes and relocated to Bly Manor. And while a few of the thematic elements were carried over from one series to the next, Flanagan and company were careful to change things up and keep it fresh. The familiar actors played unfamiliar roles. The sets and creature designs were brand new. And, most importantly, the two stories had different tones; Hill House is a family drama disguised as a ghost story, Bly Manor is a supernatural romance.

Yet there was one thing that did not change much; the music. The Newton Brothers (Andy Grush and Taylor Newton Stewart) composed a chilling and effective theme for The Haunting of Hill House. It is a dark, dreamy, and dramatic melody that reprises itself throughout the series. They brought it back for Bly Manor.

“The Haunting of Bly Manor (Main Titles),” is basically a reworked version of “The Haunting of Hill House (Main Titles).” The edges are softer this time around. Hill House attacks the low end of the piano. Bly Manor replaces those smacks with a graceful waltz. But the melody is the same. And it extends far beyond the opener. The note progression used in “The Haunting of Bly Manor (Main Titles)” reprises throughout the record, over and over again. Sometimes the melody is full and dramatic and performed with swinging strings. Sometimes it’s stark and vulnerable and played on a naked piano. At times, the tempo hits fast. At other times, it’s slow. The alterations help, but it still feels a bit repetitive as it plays out.

the haunting of bly manor the newton brothers 01

Bly Manor is better when it pulls away from the Hill House safety net; it works better when it has its own voice. “Perfectly Splendid” is charming. A piano dances with quiet delight. A bed of strings slides underneath for support. Toward the end of the track, that piano trades places with instrumentation that would be at home on a Danny Elfman composition, leaving the track with a feeling of wondrous fantasy. “Sufficiently Breathless” encapsulates the creepy mystique of the manor. “The Finest of Dresses” is as elegant as haute couture. “Dragged Away” bursts in with a loud crash of heavy low-frequency noise. It growls and vibrates and threatens everything in its path. At forty-one seconds, the track is short. But it serves as a reminder that there is danger in this building.

The physical product continues Waxworks commitment to quality. It’s issued on 2 LPs of 180 gram vinyl, colored with a swirl of blackened blue and sepia-toned brown, made to represent the murky, muddy water from the series.

The artwork is taken directly from the show. The weather-beaten cover shows The Lady in the Lake. Her body is facing Bly Manor, which rests in the distance, while her head is angled toward the viewer. Pinned across the top, over a gloomy beige sky, is the album’s title. There isn’t much going on here. But it should be enough to satisfy fans of the series.

the haunting of bly manor the newton brothers 02

Overall, the music for The Haunting of Bly Manor is well done. The waltzes and ballads are delicate and lovely. The few tracks of cattle-prod horror noise work as jump scares to keep listeners on their toes. But the record is redundant. The constant thematic reprisals work better on Netflix than they do on vinyl. They support the series wonderfully. They don’t support the turntable quite as well.

Further, the similarities between this score and the music for The Haunting of Hill House are extensive. That’s not to say the two scores are exact duplicates. As mentioned above, the music of Bly Manor is lighter. The heavy swelling of strings and noise are used more sparingly. It makes Bly less scary, but it gives it a better sense of frailty. And by recycling melodies, The Newton Brothers create a through-line that connects the two seasons, which is a good thing. But those fans who dished out $35 to get the last record might feel cheated if they spend their money on Bly too.

The album will probably be most appreciated by completists who already have the last record from the series in their collection. Waxworks produced a reliably good product and The Haunting of Bly Manor will look attractive on any record shelf next to Hill House. They will serve as complement pieces. But casual fans who are looking purely for a listening experience may want to just grab one or the other.

Grades:

Music: Threeandahalfstars Cover
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Art: Threestars
Physical Quality: Threeandahalfstars
Overall: 3 Star Rating

About The Author
Richie Corelli
Staff Writer
Richie isn’t ignoring you. He just can’t hear you over the music. He’s been plugged in to his headphones for decades, diving into the zine culture of the 90s, blogging relentlessly through the 00s and beyond. He knows more about certain bands than he knows about himself. His love of music is rivaled only by his love of horror. If it’s creepy and spooky, he’s into it.

Horror DNA sutures his two passions together, giving him a platform to analyze and express his feelings on horror scores, soundtracks and live performances. It’s a celebration of all that goes bump in the night.
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