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Terminally Underrated - 85%

Deathdoom1992, May 8th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2003, CD, Peaceville Records (Digipak)

It was always going to be virtually impossible for the Bride to follow up the legendary Turn Loose the Swans and leave fans feeling fully satisfied. However, whilst that may have been impossible, they came damn close to leaving me fully satisfied with their third record. On this album, the growls are gone completely, as are many of the spoken segments and violins are now as much of a lead instrument as the guitars. I hold this record in high regard and would have loved to have seen the inclusion of more tracks.

The first thing that becomes apparent when listening to this album is that Aaron Stainthorpe can still sound incredibly aggressive without the use of growls, a prime example of this being "Your Shameful Heaven" one of my all-time favourite Bride tracks, along with "From Darkest Skies", another track from this album. "Your Shameful Heaven" is one of My Dying Bride's most aggressive tracks, despite not being recorded during their earliest years, while "From Darkest Skies" favours a slower, crushing approach. Again a solid production on the album as a whole, and Andrew Craighan shows skill not only on his guitar on this record, of which the riffs are amazing again and further lift the album, but also composes the entire record quite adeptly.

However, just like its predecessor, it isn't without flaw. The opening song "The Cry of Mankind" is reckoned to be among the band's best works by some, but I just don't like it, largely due to the annoying keyboard riff and the fact that the song proper ends at around 6:40 and the remainder of the track's 12 minute runtime is keyboard noodling, based around a riff that annoys me. I'm guessing it annoyed the band too, since live renditions only feature the first 6 minutes. "Two Winters Only" is also tragically overrated in my opinion. "The Sexuality of Bereavement" is also an odd choice for a bonus track as it is more similar to the band's early output, and probably would have gone better on As the Flower Withers. One further slightly annoying feature are Stainthorpe's numerous voice breaks throughout the album, particularly evident in songs such as "From Darkest Skies".

This is, when I compare the songs I like from this album to the songs I like from Swans, a better record than their legendary sophomore but the latter's overall album quality is higher. The Angel and the Dark River however boasts better production, is a return to form from drummer Rick Miah, and for the first time in the band's history a clear bass sound. It is possibly also My Dying Bride's most miserable album (and that's saying something) and will depress you when listening. But hey, that's part of the draw of this classic record.