|Riverside - ‘Shrine Of New Generation Slaves’ (InsideOut Music)|
|Written by Jim Rowland|
|Thursday, 07 February 2013 04:00|
Leading lights in the movement dubbed ‘Progski’ – that’s Polish progressive rock and metal - Riverside are now on album number five with ‘Shrine Of New Generation Slaves’. As an acronym, this spells ‘SONGS’ which gives a hint of the direction the band have moved in with this new album. Partially ditching their highly technical and metal leanings of previous albums, this new record is, as the band state, a more “mature” affair, with more emphasis on melody and classic rock grooves. And they’ve certainly achieved their goal, as ‘SONGS’ is a quite superb fusion of classic seventies flavoured hard rock grooves, eighties neo-prog stylings, and contemporary progressive rock.
Those heavy rock grooves certainly feature in the powerful opener ‘New Generation Slaves’, a heady mix of dark atmospheric passages, doomy power chords and totally grooving guitar and organ riffing. The outstanding ‘Celebrity Touch’ continues the classic rock groove theme, with an irresistible riff and a vibe that’s not a million miles away from Deep Purple in their heavier moments, but suitably prog in others, with Pain Of Salvation also springing to mind as a comparison. ‘The Depth Of Self Delusion’ is another highlight, a more laid back affair with a superb folk-tinged vocal line.
‘We Got Used To Us’ is a laid back, piano-led ballad that appeals less to me but would appeal to fans of Marillion’s more recent work, whilst ‘Feel Like Falling’ makes good use of electronic sounds, and has a bit of a neo-prog feel to it. It is perhaps the album’s most “pop” moment. If by this stage older fans are wondering whether the band are ditching the prog along with the metal, fear not as lengthy cuts ‘Deprived (Irretrievably Lost imagination)’ and ‘Escalator Shrine’ prove the band still very much have their prog credentials in order. ‘Deprived’ is a brooding, subtle and menacing workout, perhaps even Radiohead-esque in places, with some nice saxophone work at the end, which wouldn’t be out of place in one of Gong’s more spacier moments. ‘Escalator Shrine’, clocking in at over 12 minutes, seems to bring together all the elements of the album so far into one ultra-progressive finale, seeing the band twist and turn from a delicate and subtle opening section, to a truly rocking Hammond and synth dominated middle section, and a truly progging closing section that actually has a bit of a classic Pink Floyd feel to it.
With ‘Shrine Of New Generation Slaves’, Riverside have produced a quite exceptional modern progressive rock album, one of the best I’ve heard in a while, that borrows hints from the days of prog and rock’s past, but rather than smothering the album in them, fuses them with something altogether more contemporary.
Fans of Steven Wilson/Porcupine Tree and the likes of Pain Of Salvation will certainly be impressed with this album, which should make giant steps in raising the profile of Riverside worldwide.