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Riverside: Shrine Of New Generation Slaves

Back in 2003, my first dalliance with Polish progressive rockers Riverside,Out Of Myself, saw our love bloom. The attraction was immediate and for six years we spent warm summers together, but found that through the deep, dark (some may say depressing, but I couldn't possibly agree) prog this band specialised in, the cold dark winters was where our relationship really became something rather special. Second Life Syndrome (2005) took what had made our bond so strong and embellished it, before 2007's Rapid Eye Movement assured that my progressive eye never strayed, or hankered for prog pastures new. Anno Domini High Definition from 2009 however saw things change, with familiarity not quite breeding contempt, but certainly introducing a six year itch that just wouldn't scratch. We still spent time together, but things weren't quite the same, being almost stale and expected. Myself and Riverside needed to spice up our relationship and rekindle passions old - even if a new found metallic edge was a stab at something unexpected... We spent the next four years apart (call it a trial separation if you will) and saw their mainman Mariusz Duda being unfaithful, with the singer releasing two (admittedly excellent) albums with his side project Lunatic Soul and for a while it looked as though we had gone our separate ways for good.

However sometimes those chance meetings with old flames rekindle passionate embers, resulting in heart flutterings and face flushings and while I want to keep Shrine Of New Generation Slaves all to myself in case someone tries to steal Riverside away from me once more, I can't help but shout from the roof tops that our love has once more flourished. For album number five from Riverside is a stunner, not just through its fragile beauty and the introspection that only this band can provide, but also through the addition of a whole new set of colours, attacks and ideas that present this band in a new, if still completely recognisable light. Somehow SONGS (see what they did there...?) could still be no one but Riverside, but they are different, dare I say verging on a bit cheerful, but certainly heavier, more expansive and forceful, if still deeply melodic.

The almost title track "New Generation Slave" introduces proceedings in a brooding style, Piotr Kozieradzki's drums hammering gloomily, Michał Łapaj's keyboards stabbing sparsely, while Piotr Grudziński adds faint guitar flourishes and Duda dominates with a plaintive vocal that breaks your heart. However from there the beat kicks in and there's a fire in the Riverside belly that I've never quite witnessed before, Duda belting out the words as a huge keyboard motif reminds of a bygone era. Before you know it we've segued into "The Depth Of Self-Delusion", with an RPWL like vibe being executed stunningly, guitars strumming as the bass line dances wildly, the atmosphere building all the while, but not only in the oppressive style that this band have always done so well in the past. Black Bonzo (before they shifted gear and became Gin Lady) are resurrected through the massive Hammond surge, multi-layered vocals and swirling riffs of "Celebrity Touch", although what with us being at the side of the river and not blackening bonzo, there's a classy reserved break-down where the seductive vocals and gently pulsating keys sharply and expertly change focus mid song.

Then we are on more familiar ground, with the piano and heart breaking guitar stabs carrying a stunning vocal into deep dark territory. However it is a temporary shift into type, with the electro vibe and Peter Gabriel like guitar swipes ushering in "Feel Like Falling", a song that alternates between sweet, fragile and domineering, sinister. The keyboards and clean guitars again slide in through "Deprived (Irretrievably Lost Imagination)" making for an amazingly fleeting eight minutes, although again an unsettling mid-song section refocuses the attention, before "Escalator Shine" adds elements of H era Marillion, Pink Floyd, and again Black Bonzo to sound like, well, Riverside. It's glorious and rivals "Deprived..." as this albums crowning moment, especially through the jazzy piano interludes. "Coda" does exactly as it says, bringing the album to a close in short, introspective style, revisiting past themes and bringing us in a way back to both where this album and band began. Which is very clever indeed.

This is Riverside doing what they do in the way only they can, but still sounding different and more resolute and brash than ever before. It's the freshness and surprise that all relationships need! Oh how it is to be in love again. Expect your wedding invitation to arrive in the post soon!

There is also a limited version of this album that features another two bonus tracks called "Night Session - Part One" and (as expected) "Night Session - Part Two", although even with our special relationship, I haven't actually heard these additions to our family. Yet...

Track Listing
1. New Generation Slave
2. The Depth Of Self-Delusion
3. Celebrity Touch
4. We Got Used To It
5. Feel Like Falling
6. Deprived (Irretrievably Lost Imagination)
7. Escalator Shine
8. Coda

Added: February 18th 2013
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Riverside Online
Hits: 7527
Language: english

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Riverside: Shrine Of New Generation Slaves
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2013-02-18 07:08:48
My Score:

Over the course of their career, Polish prog/prog metal act Riverside have surely developed a unique sound; unique in the fact that it's instantly recognizable as Riverside. Yes, the band clearly have some influences of Opeth, Pink Floyd, and Porcupine Tree that bubble to the surface, but play any new tune from the band and you instantly know it's Riverside. Mainman Mariusz Duda's vocals are pretty much the bands trademark, and their mix of spacey progressive rock and melodic progressive metal give them a sound that really stands out in todays music scene.

From the first notes of "New Generation Slave" off their brand new CD Shrine Of New Generation Slaves, it's quickly apparent that Riverside are back and ready for business. Duda's mostly acoustic side project Lunatic Soul is all fine and dandy, but it's good that these guys are back in the saddle and delivering some of prog rocks most compelling music. More aggressive tracks such as "Celebrity Touch" and "Feel Like Falling" are mixed with atmospheric ballads "We Got Used To It" and "The Depth Of Self-Delusion", all successful in their own right. Of course, it's generally the longer, more prog-based pieces that really grab everyone's attention, and here we have "Deprived (Irretrievably Lost Imagination)" and " Escalator Shine", two wonderful songs brimming with addicting vocal harmonies, crisp guitar work, and tasty keyboard colorings.

Overall Shrine Of New Generation Slaves is probably a tad less 'metallic' than the last couple of Riverside releases, but that doesn't mean that there's a shortage of muscular prog rock here, because in actuality it's abundant. The kick ass Deep Purple-meets-Opeth styled passages on the raucous "Escalator Shine" is worth the price of admission alone, but from top to bottom there's just plenty of classy & melodic material to be found here that should land this album on plenty Best of 2013 lists when it's all said and done.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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