We waited two years for the new Riverside's album but I can tell you it was worth the waiting! These Polish kings did it again! They remain an underrated band even though their tour with Dream Theater brought them new fans and certainly showed them to a wider audience. They are more experienced now but still have the risk factor in their music. They showed it in this album that they are still going through new grounds in their music.
They don't hide that progressive rock was a big influence for them and Marillion was their favourite band. I think you could tell that especially in their first masterpiece "Out Of Myself". Some of the lyrics and long repetition of the guitar melody proves it.
Having said that, "Rapid Eye Movement" surely shows that they matured. Not only their performance as a group is solid but the involvement of the band members' is growing. Just notice the keyboards passages being more and more a part of the central melodies instead of just the atmospheric parts as we've seen before. Michal Lapaj was very much involved in the writing process. Certainly more involved than before. And Duda's lyrics are as good as they have ever been, the emotions in that voice are still impressive.
This is one well thought out album, for a concept album. It explores human fear and the effects of pills. The first part is called "Fearless" and the second part is "Fearland". The first part starts with "Beyond The Eyelids", a well constructed monster of almost 8 minutes to open the album and show what they are all about: brilliant changes of paces and rhythms in the songs, emotional voice to portray the feelings behind the lyrics and a perfect introduction to the thematic of the album. "Rainbow Box" has a Porcupine Tree ring to it, the lyrical content is clearly reminiscent of them. It's a very energetic song filled with the irony that is so human. "Panic Room" that was their first single of the album is one of the best songs here being the perfect example of how mature Riverside are. The song is divided into two parts, two beautiful parts. Next up we have "Schizophrenic Prayer with the guest appearence of Artur Szolc playing percussion. It has typical Riverside passages with the bass assuming a key position in the song. It's a Riverside characteristic by now, the way the bass works the songs. "Parasomnia" might be the biggest surprise in this album, they really took a big risk here. The first verse is very different from what they tend to do and it might pull some people off. But the song grows into a sonic perfection and the end is the peak in my opinion.
The second part of the album is more relaxed and mellow in a way, we have shorter songs before the big finale. The songs "Through The Other Side" and "Embryonic" share similar aspects, they are all beautifully written and arranged and they deal with the little things in life staring it in the face. Love. "Cybernetic Pillow" brings another new theme for Riverside - lucid dreaming - and it's an interesting approach always staying true to the basis of their sound. The last song on the album is also the longest one of the bunch and you can just recognize it's Riverside by the first two lines. It brings a full circle to the album and tells us "we still have a lot to give".
The progressive elements as well as the heaviness in their music are well put together and seem to fit perfectly. They do seem to know what they are doing and where they want to go with more precision. They certainly surprised me with the quality of this album although it was strange at first. I don't know how many times I've listened to it but I kept going back to it, going back to that place, connecting to Riverside again. I feel this album wont please a lot of the "Second Life Syndrome" addicts. It's always hard to take when something is new and fresh. Some might say Second Life Syndrome was heavier and maybe you're right but this one is different and the heaviness is still a big part of it. Just a small note on the songs in disc two: absolute pearls, they're worth a listen.
I also feel this is an acquired taste and it's exquisite once you open yourself to it. If you understand what makes Riverside unique you will understand why this album is a step forward.
Highlights: "Beyond The Eyelids", "Panic Room", "Schizophrenic Prayer", "Embryonic" and "Ultimate Trip"