Sunday, July 12, 2009

Progressive metal band Riverside brings progski to the western world

I've had a chance to hear the new album, and I think it is their best yet.
If you haven't checked out Riverside yet, this may be a good place to start.

July 12, 6:31 PM

Album cover for Riverside's "Anno Domini High Definition".

Vince Font
Salt Lake City Pop Culture Examiner

"Progski" may not be a term that lots of people are familiar with, but if Polish progressive metal band Riverside has anything to say about it, that ignorance won't last long. And if the good word of mouth on their latest studio album "Anno Domini High Definition" (2009, Inside Out Music) continues to spread, it won't. The album (which, when shortened, gives us the acronym ADHD) is the band's fourth studio album and captures the band at a crucial crossroads.

Five years ago with the release of their self-titled EP, Riverside became the darlings of the prog music scene with their unique blend cathartic speed metal and melodic progressive rock. Their distinctive sound singled them out as the vanguards of a new and exciting wave of Polish progressive rock bands that gave birth to the slang term "progski". Having proven themselves to the converted with three studio albums, the band now stands poised to make a grab for a significantly wider international audience with their fourth. Usually that kind of pressure is enough to crush most bands, but instead Riverside has stepped boldly forward and delivered a powerful combination blow that's sure place "ADHD" on a lot of top ten lists for 2009.

Unlike previous Riverside releases, "Anno Domini High Definition" is 44:44 of heart stopping riffs and potent lyrical observations on modern life. The album is long on high energy, and short on the quieter, more subdued moments that were a staple of earlier Riverside releases, and one of the stylistic traits that set them apart from other prog/metal bands. But according to lead singer and bassist Mariusz Duda, the near-frenetic nature of the songs is intentional and gives insight into the album title's telling acronym: "It’s an album about people who know they need to speed up or they’ll get left behind. It's about chaos, constant race, uncertainty, stress, and the struggle to survive." Duda released a solo album in 2008 under the moniker Lunatic Soul.

"Anno Domini High Definition" was released June 15 in Europe, and has quickly become the top selling album in Poland above such musical atrocities as Eminem and Beyonce--and even above a band many Riverside fans cite as a heavy influence, Dream Theater. Other alleged influences range from Tool to Porcupine Tree, but in the end Riverside's crowning achievement is having forged their own unmistakable musical identity. Hopefully for this truly talented group of musicians, that distinct sound will play well with American audiences when the album is released to North America on July 28.

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