RiversideShrineOfNewGenerationSlavesDo you like hard-riffin’ Rock? Do you like to hear building power chords layered with guitar leads, bass leads and keyboard fills in walls of intensity? Well, Riverside’s new album, their fifth studio recording, has all that in spades.

This is a major change for them. Not that they haven’t been riff-heavy before; most of their previous work centred around a mix of the darker elements of Porcupine Tree (around In Absentia), mixed with new Marillion, with pieces of ambient and metal thrown in. In other words, the modern mix quite popular in the Alt/Prog scene these days. But Shrine of New Generation Slaves has taken all that previous work, and packaged it into an early 70s vibe for this release.

I hear Black Sabbath (Masters of Reality) riffing, Deep Purple (In Rock) Hammond organ, and a host of other similar styles. This time, too, Riverside have made a clearer attempt of catching you with hooks, in the same way that Steven Wilson does; leading you into heavy power but surfacing with a chorus that is really addictive. Not that Riverside hasn’t done this before, but it is the consistency on this record that makes a new and welcome difference.

Riverside is: Mariusz Duda – vocals, bass, acoustic guitar and lyrics; Piotr Grudzinski – guitars; Michal Lapaj – keyboards; and Piotr Kozieradzki – drums. The music is credited to all the players.

The album is 51 minutes long – a perfect length for the intensity it takes you through. I found myself mesmerized by the tracks and each one hooked me hard. Lyrically, Duda has created word paintings that reflect what you might expect from the title – people living in a crushing world of glass, confinement, bruised relationships and aloneness in crowds. Are we slaves to all that is around us or are we above it all looking in from outside? Reading the lyrics while the music is playing truly elevates the whole listening experience, which is not always the case in heavier Rock music. Here we have a two-fold treat – music and words in perfect harmony.

The illustrations, created beautifully by Travis Smith, truly represent each song as well. Haunted people in mall-like structures stare at you; headless mannequins line up as you “walk” by through the gallery.

There are eight tracks on the album (with two additional tracks on the bonus CD included with this set).

“New Generation Slave” starts with a vocal and heavy guitar exchange until it breaks into a crazy Sabbath-like riff that just continues building until the track starts to quiet down.

“The Depth of Self-Delusion” carries on the slower pace but with heavy chording, again, reaching into Sabbath territory. A gentle melody actually resides beneath the heaviness, and midway the track becomes acoustic with keyboard strings. The pace picks up again with some outstanding guitar work.

“Celebrity Touch” has a similar riff that you would hear with Johnny Winter And – it just rocks out –think “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo” with Hammond organ included and echoing vocals. And of course, it changes into a quiet section with a hypnotic electronica-sounding background with gorgeous keyboards sweeping past. The riffs begin again to conclude this addictive song.

“We Got Used to Us” is a piano driven lament about a relationship that is dead but still existent. “We never talk when we fall apart” is the tragic refrain. This is more in Blackfield territory – a mid-paced tune with again tasty, biting emotional guitar passages.

“Feel Like Falling” has an 80s sound – an infectious beat that drives toward a really mean solo, definitely Tommy Bolin territory with the synth and feedback sound and a Led Zeppelin Black Dog riff.

“Deprived (Irretrievably Lost Imagination)” has a Coldplay feel but with more menace and a wonderful synthesizer sprinkled throughout. About halfway through, the song becomes a mainly instrumental piece with a beautiful, cool and jazzy sax solo provided by Marcin Odyniec.

“Escalator Shrine” wanders into modern Blues Rock, with a recurring guitar line that gives plenty of room to solo above. Then it becomes a Deep Purple-like Hammond organ led piece that could fit into In Rock or a Whitesnake album. It abruptly takes a full right turn next into Pink Floyd territory with eerie keys that build up something like you get with Eclipse from DSOTM.

“Coda”, which ends the album, is a short acoustic version of “Feel Like Falling”.

Overall, the album is so refreshingly new and old at the same time that I found it fascinating at every turn. The musicians all had a chance to really let loose at times, something that they hadn’t done as much on most of Riverside’s previous work. The album is a heady mix of 00’s and classic, and if you like the dark sounds represented by Porcupine Tree and the riffing sounds of the 60s and 70s, this is a prefect mix and one you will really enjoy.

The sound mix is intriguing too. There is a metallic feel to the sound – it is hard to describe, but it suits the stories told on the album. Not too harsh but a definite “live in studio” mix with occasional redlining on the recording board.

The second disc contains two long tracks and represents the ambient side of Duda’s solo work. Called Night Sessions parts one and two, these tracks fall under the Tangerine Dream or modern Robert Fripp style of spacey, mood pieces that are definitely for listening to in the dark. They are beautiful compositions and a complete change from the first CD.

Speaking of Mariusz Duda, he has also released a trilogy of albums under the name Lunatic Soul. I would highly recommend if you get into this second disc. More structured songs with World Music elements await you and are recorded in audiophile quality.

In conclusion, if you listened to Riverside in the early days, and thought of them as another Porcupine Tree clone, then it is time to give them another chance. On Shrine the band has put together a great rock album with a sound of their own, and one heckuva great listen.

Release Date:  February 05, 2013
Label: Inside Out USA

Reviewed by: Bob Metcalf

By MARowe

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