Riverside
Anno Domini High Definition

Poland’s prog scene is a proximate successor to the UK premier representation of the genre, which is expansively reflected in the music conveyed by Polish most ardent disciples, among whom Riverside certainly march in the first ranks, never ceasing to stun progheads all over the globe with their demonically beautiful amalgam of Pink Floyd, early Marillion, Arena and Porcupine Tree. However, with each release they have still managed to bring forward something different, thus granting their fans good prospects for the unexpected and fresh.

Consisting of five tracks that range from five to eleven minutes duration, Anno Domini High Definition is an album that gives free reign to many conflicting emotions such as sadness, joy, anger and euphoria. If we try to set off the new record against its three predecessors, one arrives at the conclusion that Riverside have probably opened up a new chapter in their craft and stepped onto a path that is now freer of the clichés and templates of the past. Actually, it doesn’t come as a big surprise, since with Rapid Eye Movement the guys finished their Reality Dream trilogy including the first three albums and ushered in a new epoch, definitely supposing something unheard before. However, the band still remains recognizable by their unquenchable thirst for complex musical solutions and other unexpected moves.

With a dream-like piano interlude, the opening track “Hyperactive” quite justifies its title the moment the powerful guitars and drums sweep you away amid a storm of growing tension and untamed energy. A pretty good and near spectacular beginning that fills the airwaves with some absolutely new and unfamiliar musical scents. The Hammond organ that wasn’t common on their earlier works is placed in a good light here as it perfectly contrasts with the band’s overall more modern sound. “Driven To Destruction” is another brilliantly composed Prog number with tons of fascinating instrumental passages and charming vocal gymnastics by Mariusz Duda switching from peacefully hypnotizing overtones to nearly roaring yells. But what actually works best is the bass guitar performance that is like a beautiful picture puzzle with all its intricate fragments brought together by the hand of a master.

“Egoist Hedonist”, offers yet another portion of the glowing Hammond playing as well as some heavy riffs allowing this time quite a liberal dose of metal. Actually, the band has never used anything heavier than a couple of Metal leads per song, mainly professing love for pure neo-progressive Rock with just a bit of Pop sensibilities and imposing high-tech inclusions, however you’d hardly notice the lack of heaviness while enjoying the band’s luxurious offerings which will please even the most discerning proghead, metal or otherwise

The album’s culmination are the two final epics, “Left Out” and “Hybrid Times”, both of which are probably the most interesting and complex songs ever presented by them. I’m not sure which one I like better, for these two are nothing else but the product of the bands very non-standard visions of how contemporary Prog rock should sound like. Actually, they seem like a “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” of progressive music, personifying the chaos and discipline combined in the best way possible. While “Left Out” with its soothing yet lengthy introduction, groovy main part and Depeche Mode-like interlude, smoothly flows into the unshakable strongholds of early Uriah Heep and Pink Floyd, the uncontrollable and enigmatic “Hybrid Times” strikes with an independent will and force, not following any prescribed cannons of the field. Yet it remains a fairly accessible track which may easily become a favorite of the album.

I won’t claim that Anno Domini High Definition is the best progressive rock album released this year, but it’s no doubt the best material that Riverside have come up with to date, repeatedly proving themselves worthy as one of the strongest and most significant artists of this genre to emerge from their corner of the world.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Igor Stakh
November 9th, 2009

Comments

  1. Commented by: gabaghoul

    great review, love how you break it all down – “bass guitar performance that is like a beautiful picture puzzle with all its intricate fragments brought together by the hand of a master.” = good stuff


  2. Commented by: Blackwater Park

    Godly album and a great review to go with it. :cool:


  3. Commented by: Cynicgods

    Carrying the prog rock torch alongside Porcupine Tree and Anekdoten. Love ’em! Great review, Igor!


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