Wrapping things up but at the expense of some of their own identity
Completing their Reality Dream Trilogy of recordings, Polish progsters Riverside have unveiled the final instalment dubbed Rapid Eye Movement. The quartet, who are vocalist/bassist Mariusz Duda, guitarist Piotr Grudzinski, drummer Piotr ‘Mitloff’ Kozieradzki and keyboardist Michal Lapaj, have completed their aural journey which also includes with 2003’s Out Of Myself (their debut effort) and 2005’s Second Life Syndrome, in a manner that shows why they have risen amongst the prog ranks in recent times, particularly as the likes of Opeth and Porcupine Tree have gathered more exposure.
The intro track, Beyond The Eyelids (which also is the start of the first chapter titled Fearless), is big on everything. It has a big intro, big riffs, and is as much prog track as it is rock track. Of particular interest are the mild similarities to Porcupine Tree especially with the effects used on Duda’s vocals. Rainbow Box has the kind of intro that you’d expect to hear in a classic suspense action film prior to Duda’s vocals giving the song even more character, whilst 02 Panic Room is a little too electronic sounding, yet still a reasonable enough number that dissolves via a slower, cleaner ending. The overpowering Eastern flavour of Schizophrenic Prayer is a little too much at times and I find that the song fails to really make its mark compared to the other more flowing material to this point. The fact that the excellent and more typical Riverside sounding Parasomnia follows adds to the weakness of the preceding number.
The album’s second chapter, titled Fearland: Through The Other Side, commences with Through The Other Side which reminds me of the gentler side of Opeth at times, but on the whole, whilst the track is nice enough, it isn’t startling or overly impressive. Backed up by the equally gentle Embryonic, there is a clear indication that the album’s up tempo flow has been halted, but at least Embryonic stands out as the stronger of these two numbers. It’s business as usual with the bouncy Cybernetic Pillow before the 13 plus minute epic Ultimate Trip which is a fitting end to a generally well flowing album.
Rapid Eye Movement sees Riverside shift a little further toward Porcupine Tree territory at times that fans might not like. Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t Porcupine Tree part two in the slightest, but at times, the similarities can’t be denied. Fans will dig it sure enough even though it might not be as strong as its predecessor, but it certainly won’t harm their stature in the prog world, that’s for sure.