The River
Vessels Into White Tides

Occasionally, I need a break from the cacophony and brutality of black and death metal, and need a little respite from the more noisy end of the metal spectrum. Enter the UK’s long running, but hardly prolific doom act, The River, whom I have a very vague recollection of hearing back in my Digitalmetal/Metal Maniacs days, but cant really recall much about.

The heart of The River‘s sound is guitarist Christian Leitch who also serves in fellow UK doomsters Warning and 40 Watt Sun, so that should give you some idea of the band’s morose leanings and pacing. But where The River differ is the use of female vocalists for the majority of their output, with Vicky Walters getting a lion’s share of the band’s discography. However, Jenny Newton has joined the fray, replacing Walters. She has a little more somber timbre to her voice adding to the malaise already on display.

Also, the production seems to have been thickened or ‘doomed’  up and less post noise/sludgy than at least what I’ve heard on prior material. It all comes together to form a 46 minute, 5 song foray into a rending , but mellow  kaleidoscope of doomy, dreamy hues. It never peaks or crumbles into true rumbling doom or doom death, even with some hefty guitars, but centers on greyscale plods and occasional quieter soundscapes, all driven by Newton’s angelically depressed voice. I get shades of SinistroJucifer‘s more lucid moments or The Gathering‘s transitional phase when Anneke van Giersbergen joined, but with clear Warning and 40 Watt Sun influences.

I can’t really pin point standouts from the dreary excellence, but like that cover, as moody background music for a overcast grey days with the steady patter of rain and distant rumble of thunder, it’s a perfect companion. However, “Into White”  and instrumental, keyboard tinged/violin  “Tides” certainly grabbed me with it’s their hypnotic, melancholic but gorgeous throes. Interlude of sorts “Open” also caught my attention, being a more acoustic, violin flocked relaxed number amid the heaving guitars. Occasionally, The River can bring a little more density to their sound as heard on opener “Vessels” or about halfway through “Passing”, but it’s the album’s more laid back, dolent hues that make this a solid release and perfect break from growls and blast beats.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
March 20th, 2020

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