Riverside: Shrine of New Generation Slaves
People who became fans of Riverside with “Anno Domini High Definition” may be disappointed with “Shrine of the New Generation Slaves,” then again maybe not. Objective listeners just want good musicians to make good music. If the sonic attack of “Hyperactive” is what you are longing for, you will have to go back to the well. The first instinct may be to assume that the band has gone back to the sounds of “Reality Dream,” but it is more a follow up on the tease of the “Memories In My Head” EP. The reflective maturity has been expanded and infused with an edge.
The talent of Mariusz, Michal, Piotr, and Piotr has never been in in question. What makes them one of the best bands out there is amount of growth involved. The initial trilogy was promising, the right turn into very heavy metal was surprising, then the reigns got pulled back leading to balance and depth. Riverside has been refined into heavy metal artists.
In truth the metal moniker doesn’t particularly fit anymore. The music is still heavy but not any more than most modern prog bands. “Deprived” walks the line of smooth jazz (in a good way) and Mariusz has gotten extremely good at emoting. The passion in his voice just oozes out over the instrumentals. In fact “We Got Used To Us” is sincerely touching. And yes, there is head bobbing material too. Not that it is a deal breaker, but I would miss rocking out with these guys.
Getting in touch with our feelings (in a non-cheesy sense) is not the only new eye opener. They have also composed melodies that will stick with you. Oh there have been hooks before but have you ever caught yourself singing an entire Riverside chorus out of the blue before? That is going to happen with “Feel Like Falling.” Before the grimacing starts, let me assure you that writing a catchy tune is not always selling out. There is no shortage of layers. The magic formula of complexity and accessibility has been found.
The band is also at peak form. Once again, the fans already know these guys are good. They just sound better than ever. Michal Lapaj is especially impressive when he is on acoustic piano. He also found plenty of opportunities to channel his inner John Lord on a classic Hammond. There are other retro devices as well, which may lead you to think this album is homage heavy. That’s what I thought at first but it is only what might be skimmed off the surface. “Shrine of the New Generation Slaves” is a grower. New discoveries will be found with each spin as it eventually becomes a favorite album.
The deluxe edition has a bonus disc with the two-part “Night Session” piece. This is a Riverside experiment into the world of ambient music. It is done their way so I still find it listenable (not really a fan of ambient). Other than being in the same case it doesn’t have much to do with the main CD. It is probably only worthwhile for collectors or as a possible guide to future musical paths.
An album likes this bodes well for the future of prog, or at least one arm of it. Intricately formed music with a fair amount of mass appeal is a potent cocktail. What’s not to love? If progressive rock is to have a future, Riverside will be one of the bands to carry the banner. I will be one of the happy hordes marching behind them.
Mariusz Duda – vocals, bass, acoustic guitar, ukulele
Piotr Grudzinski – guitars
Michal Lapaj – keyboards, hammond organ
Piotr Kozieradzki – drums