RIVERSIDE. “Shrine of New Generation Slaves”. Fifth album. Songs. Listen. Focus. Dive. Evaluate. Estimate. A combination of plain words with simple orders appear into my mind as I press play and the first notes of one of the most important releases of the new year arrive in my ears. 2013 couldn’t begin any better as the fifth album of the giants of Progressive Metal from Poland RIVERSIDE is finally here. The record has eight songs and is conceptual. The cover has been taken care by the legendary Travis Smith.
“New Generation Slave”, the opener of the record, comes in as very emotional and slightly distorted vocals create the first soundscapes accompanied by Hammond and occasional pounding of power chords. Very impressive beginning reminiscing of the “Silent Screams and Mighty Echoes” of the Prog legends ELOY. In the second half of the song the band kicks in and the song turns into the classic RIVERSIDE flavor and eventually fades the way it begun. “The Depths of Self Delusion” is the first long song spanning over eight minutes and it becomes obvious that the band is going into more atmospheric direction omitting heavier Metal influences. Lots of acoustic parts, synths and slightly if any distorted guitars but again an astonishing song. “Celebrity Touch”starts with a pompous riff that sticks in your head while guitar and Hammond are complementing and contrasting each other. Melancholy and emptiness is oozing from the ballad "We Got Used to Us" a ballad so beautiful and emotional yet bitter.“Feel like Falling” brightens a bit the atmosphere with its “Funky” main riff. And things get darker again as “Deprived”starts, another ballad with elements that would remind of OPETH good old “Damnation” - with the addition of saxophone adding a very special tone to the end of the song. The “Escalator Shrine” is the longest song of the record, twelve minutes long with a bluesy touch and a great heavy ending with the final vocals sticking in my head for a long time now. The record ends with the short ballad “Coda” that concludes the music and the story of the record.
When I look back to the first record of the band “Out of Myself” I try to recall the qualities that made it so special to me. First the imposing atmosphere, second the amazing vocals and third those amazing bends in the guitar leads that spiced up each and every song. I don’t take anything of their music for granted but these were the things that made me love that record so much; and I can say five records later that the first two qualities of the band are here untouched though the third one is not that apparent in this record since it favors atmosphere instead of endless progressive playing. But still the evolution of their sound is a welcome change which now tends to more rock - atmospheric patterns while maintaining the style of the band.
The band is using a minimal approach in the compositions of “Shrine of New Generation Slaves”. And by saying minimal I mean that the complex compositions are not that much existent but instead an instrument or two plus the vocals are used. Also as I said before there are not any exaggerated Heavy Metal parts as the band is taking a Progressive Rock touch to their songs. There is a bit of mystery behind each song, a metaphysic level of approach in a dark and probably somewhere in the future occurring concept. The production of the record is in the high quality standards of RIVERSIDE, all the instruments are heard in the proper levels but what outshines everything are the amazing vocals. I do not know how good this record would be without the amazing performance of Mariusz Duda (and maybe his best) . I could rant for countless lines trying to justify how good is this record and why one must listen to it but that would make no importance if you do not listen to it by yourself, which I strongly suggest you to do, especially if you have never listened to them before. RIVERSIDE have delivered their fifth masterpiece of progressive music, a record that will be their new “Shrine of New Generation Slaves”.