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During their first album this four-piece played heavy/traditional doom in the vein of Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus, and Grand Magus. From the...
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The River : Drawing Down The Sun

The Riverís first full-length presents quite unique blend of uncompromising Doom Metal and emotional, decidedly un-Goth female vocals.



After two demos, Drawing Down the Sun was The Riverís first full- length offering, which has been followed by a sophomore album in the meantime. The Brits present us with almost 50 minutes of their quite unique blend of uncompromising Doom Metal and emotional, decidedly un-Goth (and un-Metal for that matter) female vocals.

This untypical combination makes for the paradox of the music being heavy and fragile at the same time. Embedded in a raw yet clear production, the backbone of the music consists of droning down-tuned guitars, great purposeful drumming and a bass guitar which is played with distortion throughout the whole album, adding to the overall wall of sound. Above all this, Vickyís excellent clean, melodic voice is floating, somewhat detached and still perfectly integrated into the bandís trademark sound. This juxtaposition may seem somewhat awkward at first, but it works surprisingly well and engenders an overall feel of repressed frustration and stifled emotion hindered from being acted out. The lyrics contribute nicely to this, predominantly dealing with human relations and our inability to cope with them. Some might consider this a bit too soft or even 'poppy', but as far as I am concerned, it is something I can relate to, in contrast to stories of the dead rising from their graves. It is quite a pity that the booklet does not contain the lyrics, but fortunately, Vickyís clear articulation makes it quite easy to follow them most of the time. Speaking of the booklet, a short side note should be made on the excellent artwork photography, presenting us with a number of interesting images which most aptly reflect the cheerless atmosphere of the music.

The production is so remarkably well balanced that the vocals are not in danger of drowning in the noisy instrumental work at any time and, on the other hand, do not dominate the music. In fact, they leave room enough for the heaviness to unfold, and additionally, long sections of the songs tend to be instrumental. Most of the riffs are fairly rocking, but without giving up their doomy edge. Every now and then, the pace slows down for a part of devastating Doom, and these are fantastic moments you really start looking forward to. The guitar work remains very basic and simple, relying a lot on power chords, and the rare instances of lead guitars are equally minimalist, but effective and well placed. Besides, there are a few occasions where distortion is turned down to a minimum for a short calmer break.

Special mention should be given to the last few minutes of 'Amber', where the listener is run over by a dissonant tidal wave of power chords, guitar feedback and a drum frenzy that is truly a delight to listen to, all of this accompanied in the background by indecipherable samples of voices drowned in white noise. Then, the short track 'A Relation to Absence' offers the most fragile and emotionally charged vocal performance with words of social isolation that should not leave anyone unaffected and which are all the more effective in the context of the minimalist guitar-only instrumentation. Other than that, it is pointless to go into detail about any particular track because all of them are very strong and convincing. There is not much variation on this album, in fact the style is pretty homogeneous, but this is Doom Metal after all, and any compromise to The Riverís disheartening musical vision would most likely have been a compromise to this albumís intensity as well. Drawing Down the Sun proves to be incredibly addictive from the very first spin and has become something like a trusty friend I turn to in certain moments of dire need, if you can follow my thought. This is a very special album which I can only recommend.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated

Information

Tracklist :
1. A Close Study
2. If Only
3. So Down
4. Amber
5. Alone With My Thoughts
6. A Relation to Absence
7. Inside the Flood Diary
8. Broken Window

Duration : Approx. 48 minutes

Visit the The River bandpage.

Reviewed on 2011-02-13 by Dominik Sonders
Aesthetic Death
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