The time has come for another album by the Progressive Rockers from the Polish band Riverside. The band was founded in 2001 by guitarist Piotr Grudzinski, drummer Piotr Kozieradzki, and singer/bass player Mariusz Duda. Their debut album,
Out Of Myself,was released in 2003 and soon after they recruited keyboardist Michal Lapaj. The albums
Second Life Syndrome(2005) and
Rapid Eye Movement(2007) followed and now they’ve just released their fourth album,
Anno Domini High Definition.
From the first tone, you can hear that vocalist Duda’s voice is reminiscent of Paul Wrightson (Arena) and this is especially easy to hear on the songs “Egoist Hedonist” and “Hybrid Times.” The vocals aren’t the only similarities to Arena, and even though Riverside sound a lot like them, they are more aggressive, focus a bit more on technical skills, and thrive in a direction that’s sort of Dream Theater mixed with Tool at times.
The album has a lot of symbolic elements. For instance, the total running time is 44:44 minutes. The title consists of 4 words, and if you put the first letter of each word together you get ADHD (also known as Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
Duda says in a press release that
Anno Domini High Definitiontells the story about people who state that “…such-and-such a device is no longer usable” due to the fact that you’ll never learn to use it properly before another updated device has taken its place. In other words, the album deals with the hectic times we live in, both musically and lyrically. That is a precise description of the musical style of
Anno Domini High Definition; it’s not played with Dragonforce-speed, but the music is still very hectic and rushes between different parts of the songs. Even though everything is a bit accelerated, they still explore every inch of each part, and when they’re done they’ve showed you that there are many ways to play a single riff.
During the slow/calm parts, the band's resemblance to Arena is pretty clear, but there are a ton of other influences here as well. The song “Driven To Destruction” has many similarities to Dream Theater's “Home” -- they have a brass section Neal Morse (ex-Spock’s Beard, ex-Transatlantic) would be proud of on “Egoist Hedonist,” and in-between you’ll find elements like the Deep Purple-sounding Hammond organ (not to say that Deep Purple is the only band that utilizes the Hammond organ). The songs are long and complex, and though they’re more or less a Progressive Rock band, the music is at times very close to Fusion, as they mix in atmospheric parts and Jazzy parts with Rock parts and epic parts. Especially phenomenal are the epic parts that include the harp-sounding keyboard and the more epic string sound (also keyboard) towards the ending of “Egoist Hedonist.”
The resemblance to Dream Theater is found especially in the song structures and riffs, but perhaps not so much of the insane technicalities when it comes to solos. However, drummer Kozieradzki impresses a lot with his abilities to create aggressiveness in the beat at one point and play so mellow and careful in the next moment that you almost forget how aggressive the previous part was. He manages to mix it up a bit to make it interesting, and he’s everything but predictable. On top of it all, there’s the magnificent interaction between guitarist Grudzinski and keyboardist Lapaj. They show great understanding for the music in the sense that they know what elements are needed at all times, and they really complete each other. There’s never too much or too little of something on this record.
The special edition of Anno Domini High Definitionalso contains a bonus DVD with footage from a concert in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Judging by the music they deliver on this album, the bonus DVD would be money well spent.
Anno Domini High Definitionis a must-buy for all Progressive Rock and Metal fans around. They’ve taken the best elements from today’s Progressive Rock scene, added a good deal of themselves, and made a record that’s exceptional.