Riverside
Anno Domini High Definition


5.0
classic

Review

by OmairSh USER (18 Reviews)
February 2nd, 2012 | 20 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Powerful and aggressive, but not without retaining signature Riverside elements. The true definition of great songwriting. Listen up all of you Prog Metal bands out there, this is how its done.

Riverside have continuously grown in popularity since their debut was released back in 2003, and with good reason. Although it’s difficult for a band to create their own “unique” sound in this modern world with so many bands already blending various genres and styles to conjure up their own cocktails, Riverside certainly have distinct elements, which if are not unique to them, they at least excel in. Fans will already be aware of the gorgeous atmospheric keyboards, the powerful and inventive bass lines, the tasteful lead guitar work, and Mariusz’s distinct vocals.

They’ve been a very consistent band releasing 3 very good albums every other year up until their 4th release, namely Anno Domini High Definition (in other words ADHD, yes it was intentional).

My main reservation with the first 3 albums is the production, which has been pretty inconsistent, with some instruments sounding better on one album and quite average on another. Maybe it’s just my opinion, or maybe it’s because I was comparing it to Porcupine Tree (probably unfair on my part), but the production needed a little more spark and clarity. To be fair it wasn't too bad on Rapid Eye Movement. But the main culprit were the drums which were usually; far too low in the mix, too muddy and dull, and lacked that extra kick to match the other instruments. The remaining instruments were done justice more or less.

This album marks a change of direction for the band. With the culmination of the Reality Dream trilogy Mariusz had hinted that the album was going to be heavier and uptempo in several interviews. Normally when I hear modern bands deciding to opt for a heavier direction my normal concerns include the band sacrificing good melodies and instrumentation for heavy riffs, with the abrasive guitars overshadowing other instruments in the mix. So how does Riverside’s latest LP fare? Let’s find out.

Riverside are:

Mariusz Duda – vocals, bass, acoustic guitar
Piotr Grudziński – guitar
Michał Łapaj – keyboards, theremin
Piotr Kozieradzki – drums

First off its length is a mere 44:44. For a modern prog album that’s practically EP material. The reason? To achieve a more cohesive result. I admire the incentive.

1. Hyperactive (5:45): The album opener starts with a nice simple piano melody which has a bit of a dark feel to it. The acoustic guitar and electric guitars come in playing the harmonies, hey this isn’t so heav…… Oh. Distorted drums and guitars fade in and we’re off. There's a good tempo maintained throughout and the guitar is pretty heavy. Very smooth transitions, great riffs, dynamic bass lines, incredible keyboard work, and really great “funky” elements (in a metal context). This song took me a while to appreciate, but when I did, there was no turning back. Unbelievably enjoyable track! 5/5

2. Driven to Destruction (7:06): We’re treated to Mariusz’ gorgeous bass guitar tone with the perfect delay to begin the second track. The song effortlessly progresses through different moods with some very creative bass playing and drumming. The heavier guitar riffs are beautifully accompanied by Michals’ synthesizer and organ to give a polished overall sound (see metal guitarists? The keyboards CAN sound good and powerful with the heavy guitars, just something to take into consideration!). A good dynamic song. 4.25/5

3. Egoist Hedonist (8:57): The songs get longer as we advance (how progressive is that?!). This track is divided into 3 terrific parts with good transitions. The song wastes no time and starts with the first verse backed by spacey keys and great bass work after which we’re treated to one of the heaviest riffs of the album, wow. There's some fantastic drumming on this track, a great guitar solo, a refreshing horn section that’s so simple that it was probably taken from the book “The basic guide to brass instruments”, and one of best instrumental sections composed by this band. This will be great live. 4.5/5

4. Left Out (10:59): Time to slow things down a bit, and we get into the double digits. To be honest I was anxious as I’ve found that Riversides’ longer compositions aren’t as prolific as their shorter ones. They have interesting melodies but they can get tiring and feel disjointed. However I was pleasantly surprised with this track from beginning to end. The quality provided here is of herculean proportions. Terrific performances all round and progressions which are as sweet as Baskin Robbins’ mint chocolate chip ice cream, with the instrumental bridges ingeniously leading to the verses. Great guitar riffing, powerful bass tones, incredible keyboard work, and the most soothing part of this album are all present in this almost flawless progressive masterpiece. 4.9/5

5. Hybrid Times (11:53): The final and longest track of the album (has it only been 33 minutes?), definitely one of the strongest Riverside tunes . Michal starts proceedings with the main theme on the piano, and it’s a great melody that returns in various interesting arrangements (which is how it should be done in prog). This track is carried by Mariusz and Michal, with great contributions from the remaining pair. It’s very heavy but classily done with shifting time signatures, great transitions, cool effects, great bass tones and riffs, powerful drumming, and one of the best choruses Riverside have ever conjured up. The final 3 minutes mostly consist of Michal treading further into electronic territory (which I had my reservations with initially, but which I have come to love now). Another epic progressive metal masterpiece. 5.5/5

What a journey it’s been, sure it’s only 44 odd minutes but it feels more complete than most 70 minute albums. The desire to compose a more cohesive album could not have had a better outcome. My only complaint is with the mix. The drums are ridiculously low (why can't they just get the drums right?!), and the keyboards are too high at certain times which can lead to the feeling of a lack of cohesion. It's annoying but forgivable in this case. At least the band improved their production, all the instruments sound great.

I’m going to be biased and say that I enjoyed Michals’ contributions the most (I’m a huge fan), and secondly I have to mention the incredible drumming by Mr. Piotr K. But this album really felt like a band effort with everyone contributing immensely. Riverside I have officially been converted.

Special mentions:

Hyperactive: Guitars and Keyboards
Driven to Destruction: "Cookie monster" keyboard tone
Egoist Hedonist: Horn section, final instrumental section
Hybrid Times: Electronica elements
Hammond Organ: Consistently gorgeous use of tones throughout



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Comments:Add a Comment 
CaptainDooRight
February 2nd 2012


30249 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

prolly the only one I haven't heard from these guys, review is toooooooo
long to read but pos anyways cuz your reviewing good prog, not that haken shit

cb123
February 2nd 2012


2054 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

its a good album but doesn't hold a candle to their first 3

scissorlocked
February 2nd 2012


3511 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

2 reviews with 5 rating?

I consider this their weakest album, the production is good but there are barely memorable moments. The riffs aren't anything special and the structures are kinda messed up- bad climaxing and decent melodies

review is huge. You should expect that few people will read it

Digging: Distance - Outer Limits

bloc
February 2nd 2012


35004 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Band and album rule hard

Digging: The Birthday Massacre - Superstition

Jethro42
February 2nd 2012


12547 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I shall check this album out.

tiesthatbind
February 2nd 2012


7380 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is their worst album imo, their first two albums are by far the best things they've done.

Digging: Poets of the Fall - Twilight Theater

OmairSh
February 3rd 2012


11918 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah I realise the review's too long, even I was exhausted by the end of it. But I had so much to say, will definitely need to trim excess fat in future reviews.

Digging: Dusk (Pak) - My Infinite Nature Alone

tiesthatbind
February 3rd 2012


7380 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I actually did read the whole thing. I can dig long reviews like this if they're enjoyable to read, which this was.

OmairSh
February 3rd 2012


11918 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Much appreciated . Sooo..... Your album ratings not going up from 3.5 is it? :P.

OmairSh
February 3rd 2012


11918 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Btw if anyone's interested in jazz rock with a mix of eastern classical elements there's a good Pakistani band you should check out (I know it seems like cheap publicity). The band is the Mekaal Hasan Band (which I'm currently "digging"). I've created their page on sputnik and you can go to their homepage. You can ask me if you have further queries (and no I have no direct relation with the band).

tiesthatbind
February 3rd 2012


7380 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nah, this is mostly enjoyable but it just doesn't have that epic quality that their first two albums have for me. Plus I actually get a bit tired of the in-your-face keyboards in this album after a while. I do love Egoist Hedonist though.

jybt
February 15th 2012


346 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It's lengthy, yes, but I say it's decently written and detailed enough to merit a pos'd vote from the other 5 reviewer. Spun this album tonight and it still owns faces, but it also helps me through personal stuff as well.

blavman
September 22nd 2012


1 Comments


Detailed, Awesome, Literary Paradise.

I felt you were slightly up the bands ass for a while and no review is complete without critique. Had fun reading it and that is definitely something coming from someone who cannot stand the music your talking about.

Peace.

OmairSh
October 3rd 2012


11918 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks, much appreciated. The album is killer, the flow, the musicianship, the compositions.

OmairSh
October 3rd 2012


11918 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Also maybe you want to take baby steps leading up to an album like this, maybe you could end up liking the music? :D

Titan
May 8th 2013


5383 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review Omair....pos'd

OmairSh
May 9th 2013


11918 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks, this is by far Riversides best and most cohesive album imo. It's definitely a grower.

ksoflas
February 9th 2014


442 Comments


Second Life Syndrome is by far their best effort.

Emyay
February 13th 2014


5974 Comments


i'm gonna give this a few more listens but as of right now its sounding too dream theater-y for my liking

OmairSh
February 13th 2014


11918 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Give it a few listens, this is very different from typical DT and DT copycats.



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