Album review: RIVERSIDE – Love, Fear And The Time Machine

RIVERSIDE - Love, Fear And The Time Machine

Inside Out Music [Release date: 04.09.15]

From the opening strains of the twelve-minute opus ‘The Same River’ from the fabulous ‘Out Of Myself’ album in 2003, Riverside have been in the vanguard of the 21st century resurgence in progressive rock from eastern Europe.

Now, twelve years and five albums on, the Polish wizards have released the album that should secure their rightful place in the pantheon of progressive greatness.

This has been coming.

With the notable exception of 2009’s metal onslaught ‘Anno Domini High Definition’ which led many fans to question the direction of travel for the band, 2013’s ‘Shrine Of New Generation Slaves’ calmed everybody down with its more recognisable Riverside template – replete with angular guitar riffs interspersed with pastoral acoustic passages.

‘Love, Fear and the Time Machine’ has taken this template, turned down the aggression a notch and upped the tranquility quotient significantly to deliver an atmospheric gem of an album – still retaining a hard rock bite, but shot through with a dreamy melancholia that simply dazzles.

Much of this is due to main-man Mariusz Duda, whose voice has developed over the years to become the perfect prog-rock vocalist. I suspect that Duda’s side-project, Lunatic Soul, has helped with this progress as there are many similarities between Lunatic Soul’s laid-back style and what’s going on here.

And what’s going on here is the album Riverside have always threatened to make.

Combining all their strengths as a band – inspired songwriting, an edgy libretto and peerless musicianship topped off with Duda’s melodious vocals – has produced an album of epic proportions that will appeal to everyone who enjoys great music, regardless of whether progressive rock floats their boat or not.

Ten tracks in all and finding highlights is almost superfluous.

Bookended by the tracks ‘Lost’ and ‘Found’ the entire album is a highlight – ever-changing with light and shade, soaring anthems and hushed tones and with occasional scorching guitar rifferama from Piotr Grudzinski rearing its head – only to be doused with wistful acoustics and keyboard figures to die for.

Riverside have excelled themselves with ‘Love, Fear And The Time Machine’ and have probably exceeded most fans’ expectations – it is almost guaranteed to be their most commercially successful album to date and deservedly so.

What is guaranteed is its appearance in my top-five albums of the year.

Simply magnificent.  *****  

Review by Alan Jones

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