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My Dying Bride - The Angel and the Dark River CD (album) cover

THE ANGEL AND THE DARK RIVER

My Dying Bride

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.01 | 77 ratings

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UMUR
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "The Angel and the Dark River" is the 3rd full-length studio album by UK doom/death metal act My Dying Bride. The album was released through Peaceville Records in May 1995. Itīs the successor to "Turn Loose the Swans" from 1993. "The Angel and the Dark River" went on to become one of the greatest commercial successes for My Dying Bride, which was probably also helped along by a personal invitation from Steve Harris, to join Iron Maiden as the opening band on their European tour.

"Turn Loose the Swans (1993)" (which features both clean and growling vocals) was a transition album from the early doom/death metal releases by the band to the dark, melancholic, and gothic tinged doom metal of "The Angel and the Dark River", and there have been great changes to the bandīs sound since the predecessor. The most significant change is probably that lead vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe doesnīt perform growling vocals on the album (except on the bonus tracks. More on that below). He solely performs his paatos filled and dramatic gothic tinged clean vocals (and poetic lyrics). At times almost a little too dramatic in their theatrical melancholy, but they are arguably well performed and personal in style.

The use of violin is now a fully integrated part of the music and the violin is used extensively on the tracks. Violinist/keyboard player Martin Powell also adds tasteful layers of atmospheric keyboards to the music. The guitar, bass, and drum basis of the music is still in place, and while "The Angel and the Dark River" is overall a dynamic release featuring many subdued mellow sections, the music still features crushingly heavy doom metal sections. The heaviness of the music is supported by the clear, detailed, and well sounding production job.

The regular version of the album features 6 tracks and a total playing time of 52:18, but the limited edition digipack version features the bonus track "The Sexuality of Bereavement". A track which was originally recorded during the sessions for "Turn Loose the Swans (1993)" (which is obvious from the production values), but left off that album. Itīs the only track on "The Angel and the Dark River" featuring growling vocals. The album has seen several reissues since, with different bonus material (the 1996 reissue even features a different cover artwork to the original version of the album).

While "The Angel and the Dark River" feels like the natural successor to "Turn Loose the Swans (1993)", My Dying Bride have not stopped experimenting with their sound and they thankfully still have an adventurous approach to composition and song structure. Any track from the album could be mentioned as a good example of that, but opener "The Cry of Mankind" is probably the best example of an unconventionally structured track. Itīs basically built around a repeated lead guitar motif, and the band slowly adds layers of piano, guitars, bass, drums, and vocals to the theme, ending in an epic and counterpoint heavy track. I could have done without the last 5 minutes of the 12:13 minutes long track as as itīs just the band stripping down the layers of the song and ending it deconstructed. That part of the song is long drawn and rather tedious. Other than that itīs one of the most standout tracks in the bandīs discography.

Another track which deserves a mention is "Two Winters Only". Itīs a slow building 9:01 minutes long track, predominantly featuring clean guitar, bass, drums, violin, keyboards and vocals, and only during a few climax parts distorted guitars and heaviness. The remaining tracks are high quality doom metal too, and upon conclusion "The Angel and the Dark River" is a strong release by My Dying Bride. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

(Biography originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

UMUR | 4/5 |

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