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Riveryman - Views, Fears & Stories CD (album) cover





3.00 | 6 ratings

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3 stars Riveryman is a Finnish band of multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and producer Toni Jokinen, a.k.a. Tony Riveryman. He plays everything else than drums, ie. guitars, bass and keyboards. Now for the sad part: as it reads straight away on the album cover (in the form of dedication), drummer Mika Korkeamäki died in December 2015. The album however features his drumming, which indicates that this has been a long recording project. The first release since the debut album Magic World (2009), Views, Fears & Stories came out late last year via the French prog-oriented label Musea and it's graced by the fine cover & inside art of Ed Unitsky, familiar from albums by bands such as Unitopia and The Samurai Of Prog.

The 51-minute album is an ambitious work, and to some degree the big ambitions turn against the overall impression. The opening piece 'Passing the Chamber of Insanity' sets the expectations pretty high as it proceeds from the careful intro to power-chorded instrumental neo prog with gorgeously soaring electric guitar. The pretentious spoken narrative that comes in the latter half is fortunately quite brief, but it is all the more central in the next short piano/synth track 'View to a Forthcoming', in which Tony deals with the eternal questions of life and death. From the third track onwards the listener most likely starts questioning the solutions in production/mixing. I mean the vocals in particular, the same thing that also on the debut was seen as the weakest link. Not only that the singing is very mediocre, almost monotonous, but the playing is already so thick and intense (whether it's the electric guitar or organ on top of everything -- or both) that the sung tracks would sound much better as instrumentals. 9-minute 'Messenger of God' is the most striking example of such overblown approach.

Fortunately the latter half of the album features several instrumentals with lighter arrangements to save the balance. Synth-oriented 'Figurine of 10 Mysteries' is dedicated to Keith Emerson and Greg Lake, and is followed by 'Generation of Corruption Corruption' "written in the spirit of ELP". Again, way too much vocals. It doesn't actually sound more ELPish than other tracks ( (surely not an easy task with vocals so different from Greg Lake's anyway), except for guest musician Alex Argento's keyboard solo. 'Flower of the Future' and the closing piece are beautiful acoustic guitar solos, deeply needed breaths of fresh air. The longest track 'Concealed Universe' (10:46) is the best of sung tracks here, due to vocal-free passages and inspired melodies with a fusion flavour. This album is a very respectable and skilled effort, undoubtedly made with deep passion. With better vocals -- and/or less of them -- four stars would be deserved.

Matti | 3/5 |


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