The River - Vessels Into White Tides
Nine Records
5 songs (46:36)
Release year: 2019
Official Bandcamp
Reviewed by Goat

The River is one of those band names that simply must be taken, and it more than fits these London-based doomers. Around since 1999, the band have only released three full-lengths, and if they're all as good as Vessels Into White Tides then it's a precious discography indeed, for this is an excellent take on the genre. Strident and riff-focused with a crushing rhythm section, you'd be forgiven for assuming the band were on the heavier side of the genre thanks to eleven-minute opener Vessels, straying close to the Boris school with the amplifier worship going on as the riffs are allowed to reverberate. Vocalist/guitarist Jenny Newton has a fragile but not completely ethereal voice in the Wata style, fitting the music well and singing but occasionally, allowing the instruments to hold sway.

It's relaxing, despite being so heavy, and that laid-back feel continues into the more post-rock oriented tracks here. Even Into White, the longest and one of the heaviest pieces here, takes a couple of minutes to establish itself before bringing in the doom riffs and even so the vocals provide a welcome softer touch to contrast with the metallic weight. And on other tracks, like the relatively brief Open at only four minutes long, are more of a counterweight, acoustic guitars and even some strings providing a melodic interlude. Passing is closer to The Gathering in style, driven more by vocals than guitars which take a backseat initially, coming back later in the track in almost alt-rock style for a heavy counterpoint to the vocals, and although the track prolongs itself with an (slightly overlong, if we're being honest) acoustic interlude the switch back to metal is as exuberantly effective as intended.

There's nothing really to criticise. The album fits together well, if not perfectly, and although some songs could use a trimming there's nothing truly wrong about any of it. It's a fine album, if not an excellent one, and by the time you've reached pleasantly melodic outro Tides it's easy to want to replay. As a whole this seems lighter than past releases, but that's not necessarily a bad move and The River prove themselves capable of navigating such waters, if not quite making an album that is revolutionary for the genre. Ultimately good, not great, yet still recommended for gloombahs everywhere.

Killing Songs :
Vessels, Passing, Tides
Goat quoted 70 / 100
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