Beckingham, London outfit The River are not an unfamiliar band to me having reviewed and enjoyed last year’s Vessels Into White Tides. The band consist of Jenny Newton – Vocals & Guitars, Christian Leitch – Guitars, Stephen Morrissey – Bass and Jason Ludwig – Drums and this latest release is the four track Violet Violent Sine Waves EP consisting of three reworkings from Vessels… as well as one brand new composition. It was conceived during the current Coronavirus lockdown (proving that some good can come out of this absurd situation) and according to Christian is a companion piece of sorts to the Vessels Into White Tides album.
The album cover continues the double exposed water theme but also adds an egret into the mix. The use of this white feathered bird perhaps intonates the airier/lighter nature of the music, as opposed to the use of a willow tree on the preceding release, which in English folklore was believed to be quite sinister, apparently capable of uprooting itself and stalking travellers.
During my informal Instagram chat with Christian he stated that the motivation for the creation of the EP was that the band tend to start writing in the acoustic style and it therefore felt natural to record it in that manner. One thing to note right off the bat is that the three reworked tracks are significantly shorter versions of the longest tracks off that album. This immediately piques my interest to see how they compare.
The first track Passing starts with an acoustic guitar and Jenny’s angelic vocals. The original had an almost epic feel to it, whereas here the stripped-down approach really helps to showcaseboth the more subtle and softer tones of the music, as well as the maturity of the band’s song writing and does in fact help to set the tone (as it were) for the rest of the EP to follow.
Second track Into White showcases Jenny’s vocals even more and betrays a Sandy Denny influence. Whereas the vocals before had an ethereal quality to them, this time round there is a real fragility in the vein of Ms Denny. There are some slowcore influences that come to the fore as well, that were maybe not as prominent on the full length (possibly due to the more distorted flavour of the music) and this reminded me of Low.
The River demonstrate once again their refusal to conform to the restrictions of their genre and instead add another string to their ever-increasing bow…
Penultimate track Vessels continues the slowcore vibes of Into White, showcasing further Low’s influence. I’m a sensitive soul deep down and the delicate reworking of the track manages to move me even more than the original. Acoustically the band’s emotional weight comes even further to the fore.
Final track Here is an original number that was created relatively quickly during the lockdown sessions and like all the other tracks features beautiful vocal harmonies, violin as well as tastefully played acoustic guitar and drums. Rather good for a track that was composed at the spur of the moment!
Although reluctant to give credit to social media, I’m glad I joined Instagram as it’s possibly unlikely that I would have known of the creation of this EP and its imminent arrival (Friday 5th June). It will be available as a pay as you want download on the band’s Bandcamp site.
The River demonstrate once again their refusal to conform to the restrictions of their genre and instead add another string to their ever-increasing bow. As a fan of the band’s emotive brand of doom metal, this is a pleasant addition to an already impressive catalogue.
Scribed by: Reza Mills