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Returning with their fifth full-length album, four years since their last, are one of the modern progressive scene's most perpetually refreshing and exciting bands, Riverside. Well, 2011 saw them deliver the half hour long EP 'Memories In My Head' as a stop-gap release (in-between resigning with Inside Out), but 'Shrine of New Generation Slaves' (or the pertinent acronym of 'SONGS' for short) is the Poles' first full platter of new music in some time. And what a stunningly diverse amalgam of retro/modern sonics it is, flavoured with their usual innovative impetus while also preserving the very essence of what makes the band so special at the core of each song. That is to say, Riverside-isms are present and discernible throughout but these hugely talented Polish musicians have embraced, once again, the true definition of prog - ie. they've actually progressed. They've not only progressed their own aesthetic but also genre idioms to create what is undoubtedly their most musically multifarious effort to date. I will always have a soft spot for their debut album, 'Out of Myself' which I acquired upon first discovering the band at the occasion of their first ever show outside of Poland at the Dutch ProgPower festival in 2004 and following their development and progression over the years has always been a compelling sonic journey. 'SONGS' sees this journey continue with some of the finest songwriting and execution of such ever... and I mean 'ever' in a wider sense of the word beyond just Riverside's canon of work. Music this sublime and so perfectly formed in its expansive and naturally progressive soundscapes is a definite rarity. Bass, guitar, keyboards and drums are layered in the most natural and mature sense where each musician uses his instrument and range of sounds to not only drive the songs forward in the most captivating of manners but also plays off each other's parts to give a neat jam-like vibe to proceedings so the complexity of the instrumentations never feels forced or derivative. And this album, during many passages, also sees Riverside inject a strong dose of groove into their repertoire from the classic prog rock grooves on opener 'New Generation Slave' and the album's first single, 'Celebrity Touch' to the nice build up of laid-back groove that characterises the opening of 'Escalator Shrine'. Plus bass-playing frontman Mariusz Duda's vocal performance is his best to date - the man's singing seems to go from strength to strength with each new release - from his smooth balladic tones to his rocked up delivery and occasional bursts of aggression, his voice remains one of the most talented and expressive within the prog scene. And Riverside remain one of the most talented, exciting and innovative bands within the prog scene. 'SONGS' is a fucking masterpiece, enough said.
Inside Out
Review by Mark Holmes
18th Jan 2013
1) New Generation Slave
2) The Depth of Self-Delusion
3) Celebrity Touch
4) We Got Used To Us
5) Feel Like Falling
6) Deprived (Irretrievably Lost Imagination)
7) Escalator Shrine
8) Coda
"Music this sublime and so perfectly formed in its expansive and naturally progressive soundscapes is a definite rarity."