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Riverside - Anno Domini High Definition CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

4.22 | 1336 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars 4.5 stars rounded up.

Riverside began as a highly enjoyable progressive rock band that blended elements from Porcupine Tree, Marillion and Tool. The band was dominated by guitar, bass, and Duda's great vocal skills, occasionally flirting with heavy metal. The first three albums formed a trilogy, where I could tell that they were running out of ideas by the third. After that album, I didn't think they could continue making excellent Riverside music.

I was wrong. Riverside reinvented itself. This may divide the fans, but I think they did the right thing and came up with their best album yet. Anno Domino High Definition (ADHD) is heavier, hectic, dynamic, and with some of the best application of keyboards in heavy metal that I've heard. Oh yes, Riverside is now a progressive metal band. However, Riverside did not let go of its 70s influences. In fact, it seems more influenced now with the multitude of analogue synthesizers and vintage hammond organs.

I will focus on the keyboards when talking about the songs.

Hyperactive starts with a piano theme that slowly fades away while guitars start creeping in. Moog Synthesizers play along the heavy metal riffs. Afterwards, there is a call-and-response section between vocals and heavy instrumentation, with fiery hammond organ runs and some subtle synthesizer.A bridge features more hammond and mini-moog synthesizers and the climax of the song is an analogue synthesizer solo backed by metal riffs.

Driven to Destruction starts with a bass line, dirty and thick synthesizers until it transitions into a latin-influenced section with an exotic piano line. All of the rest of the song is supported by very nice keyboard touches and that piano line returns halfway.

Egoist Hedonist frequently uses synth pads like in the early Riverside albums but much more. There is a hectic hammond organ run before the first verse that is very effective. Emerson-like synthesizers introduce and finish the frequently-discussed brass section. This is a very funky part with horns and jumpy bass lines alternating with heavier parts with a very effective synthesizer melody and nu-metal screaming low in the mix. Again, vintage keyboards really help the mood in the very mellow part of the song. The last three minutes of the song are dominated by various keyboard timbres and a middle-eastern mood.

Left Out is my personal favorite song in the album: a masterpiece. The first minutes seem influenced by Opeth's soft side and is almost keyboard-free, until a vibes-like timbre plays along a mellow electric guitar riff. The music briefly gets heavy twice with electric guitars, hammond organ runs and synthesizers playing along them. I think when the song becomes truly special is when a rhythmic low-pitched synthesizer riff plays by itself and the vocals and other instruments starts joining it. Here is when the band truly shines and the songwriting is awe-inspiring. The piano in particular gets me every time. The music slowly builds into a progressive metal passage, without abandoning that rhythmic synthesizer.

The beginning of Hybrid Times is dominated by elegantly complex and fast-paced piano with great vocals singing along. The piano theme is then played by heavy guitars and synthesizers. One timbre sounds similar to the legendary Rick Wakeman. After a few minutes of Dream-Theater influenced metal, various keyboards create a beautiful landscape of music which ends up building up into the heaviest passage of music, with dissonant high-pitched synthesizers, blastbeats, and heavy guitar riffs. The calm after the storm features a keyboard-only electronic passage full of vintage keyboards and sampling getting very dissonant at the end.

After the detailed description of how well Riverside implements keyboards into their new sound, you might see why I was so pleased with this album. I think it is not truly heavy, so it may be quite accessible to the baby boomer generation who regularly plays the Symphonic Rock legends from the 70s.

Zitro | 5/5 |


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