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Riverside - Anno Domini High Definition CD (album) cover

ANNO DOMINI HIGH DEFINITION

Riverside

 

Progressive Metal

4.22 | 869 ratings

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EatThatPhonebook
Prog Reviewer
5 stars 10/10

"Anno Domini High Definition" is the quintessential modern prog album,the true essence of progressive metal.

Riverside's fourth album, released in 2009, finally showed me how progressive metal can penetrate your soul so strongly that you can't forget about it. Indeed, "Anno Domini High Definition" has become one of my favorite albums of all time, and it never seizes to amaze me for the fact that it's such a new and innovating album, and how it changed my life despite being released only one year ago.

I couldn't help noticing how this album was badmouthed by many Riverside fans, since it is very different from their previous efforts: the atmospheric Pink Floydish moments are practically gone, the sound is much crunchier, more crude, and of course heavier. It is a 100% progressive METAL album. Also, the song structures are more complex (it took me about seven listens to finally understand ADHD well), because of many time changes and the number of tracks goes down to five, and, as a consequence, the length of the album is shorter than those 60 minute Riverside records released previously.

How come this album is a landmark in progressive metal history? Let's look back at the previous prog metal masterpieces: with "Operation Mindcrime" there is a introduction to epic concept albums, with Images And Words" the genre reaches mainstream success, with "Scenes From A Memory" concept albums start to become more concentrated on the music, making some mind blowing songs and passages, with "The Perfect Element" some more modern elements are introduced in the music, "The Human Equation" proved that mixing prog metal with many different styles of music is a definite winning formula, even with "Second Life Syndrome" there is a different approach to heaviness, using also some space/ psych rock moments. I could list more albums, but I think these are the really important ones.

Anno Domini High Definition is important because it is indeed heavy, but there is no particular virtuosity from the musicians, there are no thrashy riffs, everything seems like it's coming straight from the heart.Even though there's no particular virtuosity, the band really is able to use and keep at the same level, without one overshadowing the others, all the instruments, that all have their shiny moments. The production is great, the sounds here sound very modern, almost futuristic because of the unbelievable use of synths, which many times produce some crazy sounds that are truly breathtaking and fascinating, and I could say I have never heard anything like it before, not even from a keyboardist such as Jordan Rudess. And finally, even though not as much as "The Human Equation" by Ayreon, the album is very eclectic: metal, jazz, some spanish taste (only in "Egoist Hedonist" for something like thirty seconds), ambient, electronic, and maybe even some synth pop.

This five song LP doesn't have a bad moment, as a consequence the album is quite solid. The opener "Hyperdrive" an unbelievable intro for this album, that creates such an amazing energy, with it's many time changes and hooks, in only five minutes. "Driven To Destruction" goes more progressive, and even though it has a really catchy guitar riff that explodes after two minutes of semi-building. Another great song for Riverside, with once again many hooks, slower and more tense ones as well. "Egoist Hedonist" is where the building and the tension is the highest, but it's also where these moments are he most haunting; this eight minute track is in fact the mot beautiful one here, constructed like a sort of minisuite. At mid song, it gets quite loud, it get's quiet again (for me this is the highest peak of the album) to explode into a fantastic climactic ending. "Left Alone" is a ten minute song that is the biggest and most succesful builder here; almost half of it is meditative, calm, and haunting like few songs. The end is of course also climactic. "Hybrid Times" is the closure and the longest song here (eleven minutes), a beautifully but differently structured piece,that starts with mind blowing prog metal and that has an unexpected ambient ending to a terrific masterpiece.

This said, I realize how I'm maybe the only one that recognizes this as an important record, but I'm sure it will be considered that way in the years to come. "Anno Domini High Definition" is the quintessential modern prog album, the true essence of progressive metal miraculously carved in these five tracks.

EatThatPhonebook | 5/5 |

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