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Riverside - Rapid Eye Movement CD (album) cover

RAPID EYE MOVEMENT

Riverside

 

Progressive Metal

3.79 | 876 ratings

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ScorchedFirth
4 stars (9/10)

"Rapid Eye Movement" brings a conclusion to probably the best trilogy I've ever heard (assuming you don't count 'bedsit thoughts'/' hotel thoughts'/'home thoughts'). Once again Riverside's sound continues to expand, taking on some more modern metal influences and a bunch of new keyboard sounds. The guitarist in particular is more focussed on riffing and blending into atmospheres than soloing, though of course Riverside still retain the ability to play more subtle and quietly introspective songs. Overall it seems to me that there is more of an emphasis on rhythm too - this album is littered with catchy passages to tap your toe to.

Some people see this as a weak album, and whilst it doesn't quite match the brilliance of the first two Riverside albums (which rank amongst my absolute favourites) there is still a great deal of truly excellent material on display. People seem to be put off by Riverside attempting to cram even more ideas into their already massive melting pot of influences, but there is too much top quality material here not to enjoy it. With future albums, Riverside would seek a bit more focus, but for "Rapid Eye Movement" I think they were trying to round off the Reality Dream Trilogy with something that was simultaneously based on the sound of the last two albums as well as a new and interesting piece in its own right, and that requires new sounds and approaches to encroach on the territory of old ones.

Of the heavier pieces, I would have to say that the opener, "Beyond The Eyelids", is the best. It smashes into the action, dramatic and metallic straight out of the gate. It feels like something of a bridge that continues the arc of development established by the previous albums, eventually evolving a more melodic and spacey mood near the end. The closing epic, "Ultimate Trip", is also excellent, careening around at full throttle with pretty much everything that you can find on "Rapid Eye Movement" present on this song. The guitar strikes hard in the first half, with the second half allowing us to wind dreamily to the end, punctuated by heavy background atmospheres and wordless chanted melodies. These repeat before the song ends with the sounds from right at the start of the first song on "Out Of Myself", tying everything up nicely.

The shorter songs seem to come in two varieties: lively bass heavy and catchy pieces or gentle and spacey pieces. Again this allows Mariusz Duda to show off his versatile emotional range as a lead singer, and yet again he seems to have grown in confidence and abilities on both his instruments (e.g. opening "Parasomnia" with just his vocals, or his many distinctive bass leads).

A good example of the livelier pieces would be "Rainbow Box", a song notable for its punchy main bass riff and smouldering guitar/organ combo. I especially like the parts of Mariusz Dudas vocals where he is almost snarling his lines. "02 Panic Room" is another, also containing some impeccable contributions from the rhythm section. Along with this comes the added bonus of Piotr Grudzinski's slicing guitar and the beautiful layered harmonies of Duda's voice, making this one of the strongest songs on the album, and a presumably easy choice for the lead single. I especially like the mournful coda at the end; it's truly beautiful.

The three spacier gentle pieces are "Schizophrenic Prayer", "Through The Other Side" (which moves us from the 'Fearless' side of the album to 'Fearland') and "Embryonic". They all feature delicate atmospheres, provided by Micheal Lapaj, with soft or warm vocals and gentle acoustic strumming with restrained accompaniment. "Schizophrenic Prayer" is the pick of these three, with subtly off kilter drums and some beautiful harmonies. It exemplifies the hypnotic calm that Riverside are often able to deliver.

Even though "Rapid Eye Movement" is not the absolute pinnacle in Riverside's discography, it's still fantastic, especially if you want to indulge in Riverside's heavier side. Like all Riverside's studio albums, I think this would be a worthy place to start to convert a newcomer. For existing Riverside fans, the plus side is that the synths/keyboards have been better integrated with the heavier metal parts, the vocals are diverse and glorious (just listen to how they soar on "Cybernetic Pillow"), and the musicianship and emotional integrity is at the usual high level you would expect. I can heartily recommend "Rapid Eye Movement" to pretty much everyone. Still, it's not quite the same level as the previous two masterpieces that utterly floored me, so 4 stars should do it.

ScorchedFirth | 4/5 |

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