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Experimentation is like a powerful man with a world changing agenda. He can either take the risk and succeed, or take the plunge and be prepared for the downfall. This time I'm afraid, it's the latter, for Riverside. This, the best progressive rock/metal act from Poland, features Mariusz Duda on vocals & bass, Piotr Grudzinski on guitars, Michal Lapaj on keyboards and Piotr Kozieradzki on drums. Anno Domini and Second Life Syndrome have engraved their names in my book of one of the best progressive albums ever to be put out. But here I stand before the rumbles of a disaster that Riverside should never have gone through. I'm all for experimentation and diversity, but Shrine of New Generation Slaves placed itself in a rocket that never really reached out of the world. What went wrong? Let's see.
Now Riverside is known for their diverse music influences from Dream Theater, to Rush and even some blues/jazz influences. They have thus incorporated these styles to form a multifaceted style of their own. Shrine of New Generation Slaves focuses more on the modern progressive/atmospheric/space rock kind of style with huge Porcupine Tree influences. The first song, the title track starts off with a slow rock intro that gets heavier, obviously enough and one can clearly notice that they've not lost their progressive feel. Although, I strongly feel that the transitions are way off mark. With a hypnotic riff, evident bass that makes you want to "air slap" that bass guitar, the transition from slow to heavy spoils it all for the song. It sounds monotonous, familiar and cliched, which shouldn't be the case for progressive music and moreover Riverside. There was another problem that spoilt the album for me, and that was the production. It seemed fuzzy, and way too over-produced. There is a limit as to how much you refine a sound and if you pass that mark, the music loses its feel. I could pretty much predict the whole album as soon as the second song kicked in, which shouldn't be so in the case of Riverside. It felt like the musicians were barely even interested in putting out this album. But somehow for their natural talent, a few songs do stand out that barely saves the album from drowning.
"Celebrity Touch" - This song begins with what can be classified as a reminiscent of one of Rush's songs that boasts of a very funky tune. Although the nauseating modern progressive feel still had its traces here, the tiny bass guitar bridge and an endearing, soothing solo was quite refreshing.
"We Got Used To Us" - This song wins over the monotonous music with quality, emotionally absorbing lyrics. The soothing piano intro sets you in the perfect mood for this song and the tiny, calm, yet incomplete guitar solo is pretty much an icing on this bitter sweet cake.
"Deprived" - This song is the best song off the album. This song literally spells out the real Riverside. the track also fulfills the aim of this album, i.e., to produce an atmospheric, trippy, psychedelic sound with a hint of rock. There is a mysterious, yet beautiful solo in this track which I won't talk much about. Yes, I'll keep it mysterious haha.
Overall, bleh. I know, you know, and the members of this band know that they can do much better than just this. They have lost their innovative feel, and have not worked well on the backdrop. I hope they come out with a creative, inventive, progressive album that can linger anywhere from rock to metal as long as it is not predictable, which Riverside is very much capable of doing. Daj Spokój, Riverside! Mo?na to zrobi? lepiej!!