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The River - Vessels into White Tides Award winner

The River
Vessels into White Tides
by Justin "Witty City' Wittenmeier at 30 December 2019, 4:10 AM

THE RIVER is a UK based Doom Metal band.  “Vessels Into White Tides,” is their third full length album in addition to having several demo albums and a couple of EP's. After listening to “Vessels Into White Tides,” I just kind of sat there for a bit as the last remnants of their music washed over and out of me.  Despite being very much a Doom Metal band, their music is more tranquil and introspective than most of the genre.  That isn’t to say they aren’t heavy—don’t worry, this album is chock full of heavy riffs, bass that envelopes you, and drums that are consistently on point.  But the way the music just sort of lays itself out and glides over….this is music you just bathe your soul with.  As the albums title might suggest, this is Doom that could be listened to as easily on a sandy beach as a light breeze carries droplets of rain over you as much as it could in a dark room with nothing but headphones to keep you company.  I suppose the band could inject some more edge into their sound but that might change their entire dynamic.

Much of the album’s mood can be attributed to Jenny Newton's spectacular voice.  Her words are carried upon a lithe, gentle vocal approach that is as soothing as it is haunting.  She isn’t loud but her very tone and inflection just carries over so damn well that she commands a very powerful presence. I don’t want to make it seem like the focus of the album is on her vocals.  On the contrary, every member of the band is in perfect tune with one another; they truly work in tandem for the greater good of the overall whole.

The first track, “Vessels,” opens with a heavy but sleepy Doom riff backed by drums that hit all the right notes at the right times.   By the time the vocals arrive, you are already caught in a memorizing web of your own emotions.  Vocals are an instrument unto themselves but with this album they truly become one with guitars and drums, so much I found myself lost within memories and experiences as I focused on her lyrics but not so much what she was saying but what I was hearing in my own way.  This song is over eleven minutes but it was over before I knew it—the repeat button comes in very handy for this song but also the whole album.  The ending moments of “Vessels,” is a serene tranquility that ends with a crushing riff.

Into White,” begins with just clean and simple guitar tones but it immediately grabbed my attention.  As the drum work builds in the background, my ears and brain focused on it so that I was pulled to the forefront of the song just as as the riffs kick it.  The cymbals and hi hats  expertly continue to lead me to other parts of the song—very clever approach that pays in dividends.  Four minutes into it and the guitars allow a bit of melody to open the path for the vocals to take the helm and the song glides along effortlessly.  Around the 9 minute mark one of the album’s best moments takes place in which the band just lets themselves go for a lithe jam session that recalls the deeper moments of bands like KATATONIA or CLOUDS.

The third track, “Open,” is an acoustic track that can be described as just pure beauty and movement.  It also provides a great vehicle for Jenny's voice, a bit of indie rock feel this time around. “Passing,” becomes the heaviest track on the album around the two and a half minute mark and rolls with the punches of the drums and bass.  The mid section features an even heavier, dissonant moment before a melodic section bridges the gap to another passage where the two styles intertwine.

The final track, “Tides,” captures emotive images and cold, wet, sorrow like nothing I’ve heard in a long time. It obviously works well as an instrumental but I couldn’t help but feel JENNY should had sang on the track—her voice is just too damn good to leave out completely.  With that said, this is one of those songs you let your non-metal friends listen to when they won’t shut up about how “scary and evil,” Metal is. THE RIVER’S “Vessels Into White Tides,” is a strong case that maybe Doom doesn’t always have to sound like…well doom and gloom.  This is an incredibly moving album that you don’t listen to so much as experience it.  The track listing forms the phrase, “Vessels into white open passing tides.”  I don’t know if that means anything or if they did it on purpose but it makes sense to me.  This album opens itself to you and you to it.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Vessels
2. Into White
3. Open
4. Passing
5. Tides
Steve Morissey – Bass
Jason Ludwig – Drums
Christian Leitch – Guitars
Jenny Newton – Vocals, Guitars
Record Label: Nine Records


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