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Post Info TOPIC: [Review] Riverside - Anno Domini High Definition [2009]

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[Review] Riverside - Anno Domini High Definition [2009]

It has been 2 long years since Riverside ended their Reality Dream trilogy by releasing the final, third album of the series, entitled Rapid Eye Movement and went on tour. The fans have been waiting anxiously for new material with the following question in mind: Now that the circle has became complete so to speak, will Riverside ever be the same anymore?

A change is definitely evident already from the very first piano notes of the opening track Hyperactive. It’s a very moody sample that fades in, welcoming the listener with some vocal harmonies sang by the singer/bassist Mariusz Duda. Later on, a slightly distorted, yet very stripped down guitar melody comes in, to sort of keep it all together as the volume increases. Slowly, but ambitiously, the whole thing fades out and turns into a more traditional Riverside tune with some of their heaviest, palm-muted riffs to date, layered with some rather fast-paced keyboards. By the 2:10 mark, the song has basically re-invented itself and as Duda starts performing the lyrics with his charismatic trademark voice, the overall theme of the album is also being presented for the first time;  lyrics such as “I hope my sell-by date
didn’t expire yesterday”
and “Dial! Search! Accept!” leave no room for guessing. You got it – the whole album comes together on one concept, which is the modern generation of our times and how it affects us, the people, suffering and surviving through it. By the time the song progresses and eventually finishes a bit before the 6 minute mark without letting go of its intense passage for a second, everyone should know that Riverside is back and they’re more diverse and powerful than ever before.

One of the cons on Anno Domini High Definition is the overall lack of bass leads, which were totally prominent on their previous albums and one of the main reasons why the undersigned, for instance, fell in love with them just months ago. This absence, however, is not shown at all during the beginning of the oh-so-crazy follow-up track, Driven to Destruction. Whereas the intro for the song stars a pausing bass riff and some industrial/Nine Inch Nails-influenced twists no one thought Riverside would ever write, the latter parts of the song may remind you of Tool or even something more heavier, like Metallica (the mainstream Metallica, not the old school one). It’s safe to say that it did well for Duda to get out the band booth for a while and produce his own solo album last year, because even though it wasn’t anything mind-blowing musically, anyone can hear the influence of his obvious genre-exploring here. Humble by nature and thus prohibitive to take credit for anything besides the singing and the bass, it’s certain that Duda is the man behind such things as the nu metal-ish, early-Earshot kind of part in between the flowing, but perhaps a bit predictable guitar solos which, to be honest, sound way too typical now that we’ve heard the other side(s) of Riverside.

Next up is the lead single of off the album, Egoist Hedonist, which by no doubt already owns the title for the most interesting song title of the year. Riverside’s discovery just keeps on as the ears are being introduced to some funky trumpets halfway through the song - and that’s not the only time the song, which is divided in three, surprises you. The last 2 and half minutes - which are completely instrumental, by the way – also take some advantage of a string-instrument that is either sampled or in fact a real, live-played kantele (which I have all the reason to doubt since it’s a Finnish instrument by origin).

As the album progresses, the song lengths also get gradually longer and during the intro of the 11-minute long piece Left Out, the band gets really atmospheric and melodic for the first time on the whole album. The song is more than just a pleasant listening experience for anyone who has heard and loved Riverside’s second album, Second Life Syndrome, and ironically enough, the song draws a lot of influences from classic rock music before our generation. As the song starts bursting of echoing guitars, light yet simply genius bass lines very similar to the ones being played throughout Reality Dream I on the band’s debut, the musical tone of the song also changes from minor to major, with the lyrics clearly signifying that the protagonist is now dreaming of his love instead of feeling frustrated because of, well, being “left out”. Just before the song gets really heavy, everything is one more time being shut off to create a brief extract containing nothing more than some industrial effects, a piano loop and vocals, building up with the help of yet another bass line and silent guitars. Needless to say, for a full 2 minutes we get to hear something that sounds like something completely different than Riverside. I, as the reviewer, even dare to go as far as calling it something totally fresh - best resemblance would be Korn when they’re at the peak of their epic breaks mixed with calm, acoustic moments of Killswitch Engage, only Riverside can keep the excitement and anticipation on hold for much longer, on purpose and with a way better result than neither of the bands could ever land on.

The closer and also the longest track of the record is called Hybrid Times, nicely summing up the themes that have been present on the album. The beginning of the song focuses on fast-paced keyboards and guitars, with the singer Duda focusing on rather odd pitches in his voice, almost as if he was performing the song to some children. One of the things worth noting is, though, that Duda’s vocal performance is at its roughest as the song goes forward. Later on, there are slight Crystal Method-orientated industrial backgrounds hearable, followed by guitar solos that have a more sharp sound than previously, most likely produced with an effect pedal. Halfway in the song, everything fades once again, with a haunting mood carrying the song towards a dramatic, eclectic and an overall ending that’s versatile, yet never reaching one huge, clear climax. And that is not negatively meant, because this way, there are a lot of dimensions the song can go with depending on the listener’s interpretation.

By the time the album stops at 44:44, we can make more than a few conclusions – but the main ones are that Riverside has changed, and the change has done nothing but good to them, despite the fact that the sound has became slightly more broken, meaning the harmony they have previously been famous for is not a primary thing anymore, giving each of the members of the band more space to go crazy with their own instruments. If you thought that Riverside had a wide range of influences on their first three albums or that Rapid Eye Movement was the best they could reach, get this album just to prove yourself wrong. Right now Riverside is literally like a river – at times it has to freeze, but when it starts streaming, there’s nothing that can stop it, and drying only means that it’ll feel even better when the water floods in again.

Vocals/Lyrics - 9-/10
Guitars – 9-/10
Bass – 9/10
Drums – 8+/10
Keyboards - 9+/10
Other Instrumentation - 9½/10
Overall Harmony: 9/10

Final Degree: 9.22

(Written by Jon2, 22nd – 23rd of June, 2009.)

-- Edited by Jon2 on Wednesday 22nd of July 2009 03:35:53 AM



Dreaming of Zion, Awake
Sleeping Awake.

"We’ve never tried to come off as better than our fans, our fans... when they come to see us play, they’re actually a part of, you know, us playing. Sonny, the way he is on stage, he connects with them, emotional and in every kind of way you can imagine, you know, musically, and I think that they can see that it’s not, you know, a put on, it’s not something that’s fake, it’s real." -
Mark Daniels of P.O.D.

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