Way back at the turn of the century, I was handed a two-track demo of gloomy, mellow doom metal by an enthusiastic chap introducing himself as Chris. I recently found this CD amongst many others in my garage, and after a curious Google search, was delighted to discover that new material from this band was imminent. Releasing debut album “Drawing Down The Sun” to quiet acclaim in 2006, The River have undergone several line-up changes in the decade since their sophomore album “In Situ” from 2009.

Most notable of these changes is in the singer department. Jenny Newton is a natural fit on vocals, maintaining the ethereal, detached fragility of her predecessor. Her delivery comfortably compliments the music, somewhat timid in places yet soothingly graceful.

The music itself defies pigeonholing. For the most part, the five tunes on offer here consist of dense, heavy bass driven atmosphere, underpinned by deliberate and slow melodic chord progressions. Whilst unmistakeably doomy with funereal elements to their sound, The River also draw influence from the shoegaziness of post-metal and post-rock, and entwine folk elements amongst the melancholy. Third track “Open” is the best example of the latter, a relatively short acoustic number encompassing delicate string passages.

The River have a sound that’s full of genuine emotion, and are equally comparable to Chelsea Wolfe and The Cranberries as much as they are to Decomposed or early Anathema. All in all, “Vessels Into White Tides” is a crushingly heavy yet surprisingly relaxing audio experience for patient listeners.

(7/10 Doogz)