Shrine of New Generation Slaves

01. New Generation Slaves
02. The Depth of Self-Delusion
03. Celebrity Touch
04. We Got Used To Us
05. Feel Like Falling
06. Deprived (Intrievably Lost Imagination)
07. Escalator Shrine
08. Coda

[InsideOut Music]

Over the past few years the progressive rock and metal scene has been witness to a large number of bands creating albums that see them “returning to the roots” of progressive metal; cultivating albums that harken back to sounds of old. The sixties and seventies were indeed great times for rock music, and those decades carried with them some of the most influential music in rock history. But with so many bands trying to emulate those sounds, and so many of them falling flat on their faces,  it can feel a bit frustrating to see a favorite band throwing aside their aggressive qualities and adopting sounds from the past. With Shrine of New Generation Slaves, Riverside show us all the right way to blend retro-style prog rock into the context of modern progressive music.

The album starts out with a minimalistic approach to the first half of the near title track, ‘New Generation Slaves’.  A heavy riff resonates through the near void of silence, punctuating the end of ever vocal line that bellows forth from Mariusz Duda‘s mouth. After a few minutes the song gives way to a throbbing act of bluesy prog-rock. It’s the heaviest moment on the record with a steady speed that out paces the majority of the album. The song features a thunderous bass-line amidst a healthy dose of pounding from the Hammond organ, both of which make it  quite evident that the album will feature a wide range of throwback styles and sounds.

While the opening song is rather fun, it’s considerably unrepresentative of the record as a whole, with only one other song, the single ‘Celebrity Touch’,  venturing into the same up-tempo and rockin’ feel, and the majority of the album is rather tame in comparison. SONGS acts as a chilled out and melancholic version of the band, akin to the music of fellow prog-rocker, Steven Wilson. But where Wilson has a habit of creating over-lengthy and bloated songs, Riverside manage to create  deeply rich and intricate somber music that manages to hold the listener’s ear for the entire duration of the album. With a heavy focus on clean guitar melodies that stretch out and give way to tiny flourishes of beauty from the subtle piano, and the brilliantly active bass, SONGS shows that this band is easily at the forefront of retro-style prog rock.

Where so many bands resign to making the bass take a back seat in the music, hardly ever getting any real showtime, Riverside realize the importance of having every instrument on display, and while the primary focus of the music is Duda’s vocals, the bass shows up on every song to try and steal the show. There’s a wonderful interplay between the thumping and lively bass-lines and the melodious clean guitar melodies. It gives the music a real sense of identity about itself. One of the most tantalizing moments occurs during the halfway point on the thirteen minute epic, ‘Escalator Shrine’, where a huge sonic battle between the guitar, and bass ensues; each one vying for attention, yet ultimately being taken over by the brilliant and rich sounds of the Hammond organ.

For fans of the band it will be hard to not notice the overwhelming differences between SONGS and the band’s previous outing, Anno Domini High Definion. Over the years the band had been escalating their sound, getting heavier and more aggressive with each release, and with ADHD the band had seemingly reached their zenith of force. It was a masterpiece of aurally assaulting riffing, and frantic drumming that easily put most progressive metal bands in their place. However, it just didn’t feel all that much like a Riverside album. The beauty of this band’s work as composers is that the heavier moments act as a complement to the softer tones of the Riverside palette.

This is one of the main reasons why SONGS works so well. The aggressive and boisterous moments are few and far between, acting as a balancing force for the abundance of melodious sections. And the melody is where Riverside has always shined the brightest. Creating simple to follow, yet fancifully entangled melodies that brilliantly show off their skills as composers. The melodies on display here are profoundly beautiful, and while the record is heavily somber, the beauty is so intoxicating that it’s hard to feel completely sad or morose when taking in the full weight of the music.

As a whole, Shrine of New Generations Slave is a masterpiece. It’s one of the best throwback prog rock records of recent years, and it’s hard to imagine a better record of its kind coming out this year. The talent and craftsmanship on display here is absolutely astounding, with each and every song being monumentally captivating and just plain fun to listen to on repeated listens. Riverside have more than exceeded expectations with this release, and while it may be a grower for some, it’s definitely worth the listen.


Riverside – Shrine of New Generation Slaves gets…


– EC


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