MY DYING BRIDE — The Angel and the Dark River

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MY DYING BRIDE - The Angel and the Dark River cover
4.13 | 19 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1995

Filed under Doom Metal
By MY DYING BRIDE

Tracklist

1. The Cry of Mankind (12:13)
2. From Darkest Skies (7:48)
3. Black Voyage (9:46)
4. A Sea to Suffer In (6:31)
5. Two Winters Only (9:01)
6. Your Shameful Heaven (6:58)

Total Time: 52:18

Line-up/Musicians

- Aaron Stainthorpe / Vocals
- Andrew Craighan / Guitars
- Calvin Robertshaw / Guitars
- Adrian "Ade" Jackson / Bass
- Martin Powell / Violin, keyboards
- Rick Miah / Drums

About this release

Peaceville Records, May 22nd, 1995

Recorded and mixed at Academy Studios Dec/Jan '94/'95
Produced by Mags & My Dying Bride. Cover and photos by Aaron

Released on cassette by Metal Mind.

The American release by Futurist and the limited edition digipack released by Peaceville included a bonus track:
7. The Sexuality of Bereavement [8:04]

Reissued in 1996 by Fierce and Peaceville with new cover art (a black background and a larger version of the center image) including "The Sexuality of Bereavement" and a bonus disc, Live at the Dynamo '95:
1. Your River (8:13)
2. A Sea to Suffer In (6:21)
3. Your Shameful Heaven (6:37)
4. The Forever People (4:52)

Total Time: 26:03

Released on picture disc vinyl with no sleeve in 1997, limited to 500 copies.

Reissued by Peaceville in 2001 and Soyuz in 2002, restoring the original cover art and track list.

Remastered and reissued in 2003 by Peaceville as a single disc digipack (using the black version of the cover) with four bonus tracks, including "The Sexuality of Bereavement" and Live at the Dynamo '95, excluding "Your Shameful Heaven" which appeared on that year's reissue of Turn Loose the Swans.

Reissued in 2010 by Peaceville in a super jewel box CD/DVD package, with entirely new cover art. The CD is the same as the 2003 reissue and the DVD is For Darkest Eyes.

Thanks to UMUR, adg211288 for the updates

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MY DYING BRIDE THE ANGEL AND THE DARK RIVER reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

siLLy puPPy
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.
Phonebook Eater
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.
Warthur
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.

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