Review: Ancient River ‘After The Dawn’

Okay, let me start by putting it this way, simply put, this album is just so ridiculously cool. From start to finish, if you like your stoner music chilled, with some moments of sauce, then this is the one for you.

Ancient River ‘After The Dawn’

Ancient River’s album After The Dawn is a retro trippy ride, an indulgent mix of shoegaze meets stoner, which fits snuggly into the desert rock styling. It’s as smooth as anything, and the vibe is right on the money, it’s that drive through the desert, with the sun blazing down, the breeze in your hair, and all your worries in the rear view mirror.

Right from the start, there’s something really wonderful about this trip. So Long Ago is the opening track, and it’s reminiscent of our old friends Pink Floyd, and their late sixties, early seventies soundscape sounds that they’re synonymous for, its insanely laid back.

It’s a track that seems to make its own path, there are moments where it feels like Jimi Hendrix is jamming with the band, the ‘manic depression’ groove weaving its way through the track effortlessly, its wonderful. By the time track two kicks in, we are right there for the ride, Trust In Me, oh I will as after track one I’m eager for more as there’s a Black Mountain vibe going on here, which is no bad thing.

After The Dawn is a real slice of pure desert rock indulgence, its wonderfully rich, the vibe is chilled, and its definitely a treasure to behold…

Until The End, track three, is something that any true metal fan would instantly be getting wet for, its Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi’s iconic guitar sound riffing, and it begins this chunk of class, and we sit, waiting for Ozzy’s unique vocal to power forth from the speakers, but the journey takes us another way. The vocal is softer, but works fantastically, and takes us on, into the distance.

By the time we get to fifth track, King Freak, we know the route… or do we? This tune has a harder edge, it takes a detour, flitting into a mash of stoner and shoegaze, it isn’t at all out of place, and adds another level to this journey. The ambient is replaced, as if Sonic Youth have jumped in for the ride.

Walk With Me continues this seemingly new direction, grungy guitars are a welcome addition, and in the mix with that retro sixties’ vibe, there are swathes of drifting guitar among tribal drums, that sweep through this tune. Then we reach the final track, Under The Stone, the pace has eased again, it’s been replaced, and the vibe is far more chilled, it’s a beautifully paced piece, with soft vocal, there’s no urgency, but it isn’t necessary, as on this trip we have all the time in the world. As it fades away, I’m quick to restart the album, to begin the journey again.

After The Dawn is a real slice of pure desert rock indulgence, its wonderfully rich, the vibe is chilled, and its definitely a treasure to behold. It isn’t angry, or heavy, or violent, it’s as far removed as it could be in a heavy genre. It is however effortlessly cool, and will keep you going for more than the just shy of forty minute ride, that I can say for sure.

Label: The Acid Test Recordings | Little Cloud Records
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Lee Beamish