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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


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Prog-jester
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Bring back the Brides!!!

Well, it's almost like "Up the Irons!", but it's true! Being more than a doom/death-metal pioneer band, MDB had always been deeper and far more interesting than any other genre's explorers. They wither a bit with years, but nobody's perfect, isn't it? "The Angel and the Dark River" is their most epic and progressive album, no growling this time, no gothic- metal approach (which emerged later on "Like Gods of the Sun"), just sorrowful dirges filled with...wait, I'm getting too emotional) The opener, "The Cry of Mankind", is the evegreen classic, and half-acoustic "Two Winters Only" is probably the best track on the record. Martin's violin brings this unique MDB scent to every phrase, and lengthy structured tracks create moody atmosphere of sophisticated decadance.

What kept MDB fresh in those times is their progressive attitude to music they were playing. They're not Prog, but they were far more PROGRESSIVE than some popular Prog bands nowadays. If you're still in doubts, begin with this one. "The Angel and the Dark River" alone is enough to fall in love with MY DYING BRIDE. Recommended!

Report this review (#258915)
Posted Saturday, January 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
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. It´s 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 band´s sound since the predecessor. The most significant change is probably that lead vocalist Aaron Stainthorpe doesn´t 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. It´s 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. It´s 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 it´s 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 it´s one of the most standout tracks in the band´s discography.

Another track which deserves a mention is "Two Winters Only". It´s 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)

Report this review (#274055)
Posted Thursday, March 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars MDB's third album has always been a major disappointment for me. It has none of the excitement or the inspiration of the preceding albums. Aaron has completely given up on the gruff singing and in case of MDB this is sure no improvement as his clean singing style is rather weak, especially when applied all the way through.

Pedestrian Black Sabbath riffs and Aaron's morose talking voice dominate the songs. They create an album that sound tedious rather then gloomy. Nothing seems to raise above average and it fails on all counts. The music isn't sophisticated nor good enough to work as an atmospheric mood-rock album, and it isn't heavy and intense enough to move the listenener, neither emotionally, nor physically. Only Your Shameful Heaven tries to create a bit of tension but the tedious vocals make it fails miserably.

The Angel And The Dark River sounds dull, as if the album was created from leftovers that didn't make it onto the preceding albums. Strangely enough the album is rated quite highly on AMG, and on PA as well so far. So probably it works well for fans of doom and stoner. But as you might have come to understand already, I'm not a fan of any particular genre or band, I'm only a fan of good albums. And this sure isn't one from what I can hear.

Report this review (#276863)
Posted Thursday, April 8, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars The DNA profile of My Dying Bride....

This is an arch-typical My Dying Bride album in my view. Well, the arch-typical My Dying Bride I really like. The music here is slow, doomy, gloomy, melodic and symphonic. Symphonic doom is the genre I would use on this album.

Just the usual facts first: This is their third album and the follow up to the genre defining Turn Loose The Swans album. The album title really gives the game away here. This is a mix of light and dark. Between soaring light melody lines and dark gloomy melody lines. The songs are all pretty introvert, but also pretty commercial at the same time. The opening track The Cry of Mankind is one of their best songs ever and a solid live favorite. It is an excellent song with a strong melody line underpinned by some good vocals and guitars. A Sea to Suffer In and Your Shameful Heaven is the two other excellent tracks here. There are some less great tracks here too, but this album never becomes uninteresting or dull.

In short, this is one of My Dying Bride's best ever albums and a true great album. It is interesting to note that My Dying Bride returned to the sound from this album after a couple of albums in the wilderness and had substantial success in their comeback to this sound. In short, this is a good album for the progheads who want to check out My Dying Bride.

4 stars

Report this review (#309033)
Posted Tuesday, November 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
EatThatPhonebook
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 8/10

"The Angel And The Dark River" is another My Dying Bride milestone that would influence a great deal of the Doom Metal to come.

My Dying Bride's career had a sudden twist, with the release of their sophomore LP, "Turn Loose The Swans", for some people the masterpiece of the band. But the third album, "The Angel And The Dark River", got just as much recognition: now, fans are sill debating which of these two early records is the magnum opus of the act. Anyway the debate goes, this 1995 release still keeps incredibly high levels from every point of view, and has risen up to be considered one of the key albums of Doom Metal.

Compared to the ethereally gloomy atmosphere of "Turn Loose The Swans", "The Angel And The Dark River" is almost more bright in terms of sound: the levels of despair and hopelessness are not at all as extreme as they were with the band's second album. The music in this third LP generally is much more fast-paced, more dynamic and lively. There seems to be a much stronger focus on the songwriting itself: the amount of effects used (that is, keyboards, guitar effects and what not) is minimal, although some peculiar elements that were present in the previous efforts, like the violin or the lamenting clean vocals, still persist and are a great part of the album. But another great, noticeable change is the almost complete absence of Death Metal growls (with the exception of the last track), a factor that made My Dying Bride such a unique band at it's origins. However, "Turn Loose the Swans", because of its slight change in direction, shows how the band had reached a sort of independence from the point of view of artistic freedom, even if it was really early in their career.

The themes present in "The Angel and The Dark River" are more or less the same we see in other Doom Metal bands and in other My Dying Bride releases, including loss of hope, desperation, but also more religious elements, like the strong presence of God in the lyrics. This sort of gloominess though on this album is much more human and rational than the more extreme tones of TLTS, and feel also more credible.

With seven tracks, My Dying Bride once again bring a solid album structure together: the twelve minute opener "The Cry Of Mankind" is already a track where the change in direction is pretty obvious, because of the lively guitar riff that Agalloch probably kept in mind eleven years later, while writing songs for "Ashes Against The Grain". This riff is the heart of the piece, and is accompanied by the rest of the instruments, including a piano. The last few minutes of the track are somewhat Dark Ambient driven, another aspect that is new for MDB. "From Darkest Skies" is an even more emotional piece, where there are strong alterations between feelings: if one part sounds resigned and lost, the next one is angry and revengeful. "A Sea To Suffer In" is of a noticeably heavier nature, because of the overwhelming crunch the guitars have, enriched by the intense melodies and the extremely urgent feel. Then "Only Two Winters" is half clean, half electric: in the first part, a gorgeous, deep guitar melody that holds even a bit of nostalgia in it, in the second part, a sort of catch-up to the heaviness. "Your Shameful Heaven" is the most violent song yet, proof of how progressively strong the sounds get as the album flows. And then, the album finishes with "The Sexuality of Beaverment", the only song where there is a return to the "Turn Loose The Swans" feel, especially thanks to the growls, and the slow rhythms. Overall, this last piece is a great closer and gives an epic end to the previously mentioned progression.

"The Angel And The Dark River" has now received a status as a Doom Metal classic: it has terrific songwriting, that overcomes the need of atmosphere and studio effects, and an intriguing, gloomy romanticism, that is unique only of this band.

Report this review (#744715)
Posted Thursday, April 26, 2012 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The Angel and the Dark River is a refinement and purification of the Goth-doom approach My Dying Bride prototyped on Turn Loose the Swans. With the death metal influences leeched out, the band present a mixture of reasonably slow riffs (though not as slow or heavy as the sort of material stoner doom and traditional doom bands typically play) with lyrics intoned in a mournful voice. Whereas the preceding Turn Loose the Swans went in a very Dead Can Dance-influenced darkwave direction at points, this one seems to take the approach back in a more metal-focused direction, using the lessons from their stylistic explorations to good effect in enhancing their baseline sound and keeping it fresh.
Report this review (#1683704)
Posted Monday, January 23, 2017 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars MY DYING BRIDE came to the attention of the world by not only serving as an example of one of the very first death doom bands that took the plodding riffs of doom metal and married them with death growls and uptempo freneticism, but they singlehandedly went one step further and adopted Gothic rock elements as a canvas to paint their rueful metal art upon. After several EPs and a couple albums that forged a new branch in the metal universe, the band returned in 1995 with their their album THE ANGEL AND THE DARK RIVER and changed their formula around once again this time dropping the death metal attributes completely and focusing on the dirge driven melancholy of molasses-flow doom riffs and soul piercing violin riffs. Aaron Stainthorpe completely dropped any death metal pretenses and performs an entirely goth-tinged plaintive vocal run and except for a final show of extreme metal thunder on "Your Shameful Heaven," THE ANGEL AND THE DARK RIVER pretty much drifts by like a lazy afternoon of darkened clouds in the sky.

The band had caught the attention of the metal underground right from the start but this is the moment when their unique metal craft was noticed by Steve Harris of Iron Maiden who loved the album and invited the band to open for their three month European tour which ultimately revealed their brand of doom goth metal to much larger audiences. While eschewing the death metal elements, MY DYING BRIDE also refined their sound which took all of the different aspects of the previous album "Turn Loose The Swans" and incorporated them all into a more cohesive whole. Where loose piano arpeggios ran free before, now were incorporated into the overall structure that found twin guitar counterpoints stretched to melancholic limits with violin sweeps and atmospheric overcast. While previous albums were composed by various members of the band, THE ANGEL AND THE DARK RIVER was constructed solely by guitarist Andrew Craighan which gives it a more uniform feel.

THE ANGEL AND THE DARK RIVER consists of six lengthy tracks ranging from six and a half minute mark all the way to the longest which is the opener "The Cry Of Mankind" which finds piano arpeggios, guitar, bass and violin counterpoints providing the proper red carpet treatment for Stainthorpe's magnificent goth tinged threnody of lyrical lamentation allegedly inspired by the incessant rainy weather in the north of England. Each track constructs completely unique and self-contained melodic developments that drift and seep into the consciousness before shifting gears and taking turns providing guitar-free moments as well as crunchy grooves that add some climactic heft to the bereaving banter of the sextet's multi-pronged musical attack. This is not the kind of music that bombards the senses, it's the kind that seduces the listener into willingly accepting the poison that extinguishes the light and quashes hope.

While i've strived to find a single flaw in THE ANGEL AND THE DARK RIVER, i can't help but be floored by its sheer perfection of designing the most elegant form of goth doom metal that incorporates moments of English folk and electronic darkwave which unify to create one of doom metal's most memorable moments matched only by the band's previous album "Turn Loose The Swans." I find it hard to choose between the two. The previous albums may have more dynamic variations that ranged from the gothic doom to bombastic death metal but this one has the most consistent overall disposition without sacrificing any of the idiosyncrasies which allowed the band to stand out from the pack. Packed with unique guitar riffs, darkened folky violin genius and a barrage of ever-changing percussive drive, MY DYING BRIDE created their second masterpiece in a row with THE ANGEL AND THE DARK RIVER.

Report this review (#2115473)
Posted Saturday, January 5, 2019 | Review Permalink

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