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Riverside - Rapid Eye Movement CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.79 | 877 ratings

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4 stars One thing we should all know by now is to never set your expectations too high. Humans as we all are (or so I'm led to believe), we can't help but get really excited about certain events, in this case album releases, without contemplating the potential letdowns that may occur, because we feel like it simply couldn't be a possibility. Take a look at Tool's 10,000 Days. Fans waited five years for the follow up to the brilliant Lateralus, and due to the quality of the release and the time gap between releases, they all figured something new and mind-blowing would result on the band's next release. But no, the band simply made another album that was just as good as its predecessor, with a few changes in sound. The fans, instead of focusing on the many strong points, focused on the one negative, which really could only be that it wasn't the greatest metal album of all time.

I looks like something similar has occurred with Riverside's follow up to the highly praised Second Life Syndrome, Rapid Eye Movement. The band seems to have traveled on level ground between the two albums, and so no huge progression has been made. Some say it's a step back, but I say that is not true. This is album is just as good as good as Second Life Syndrome; it's just not as surprising. I could concede to the argument that this one doesn't have as powerful of high points as the other, but I also think this album doesn't hit the same lows, either. No flops like "Artificial Smile" (the album's only problem) are to be found here. This is a very consistent release, and one that Riverside should be commended for.

The one thing the band decided to do with their sound this time around was to drop some of the edge and expand their atmospheric element. From the swooping and swelling introduction that opens the album in "Beyond the Eyelids," the highly reverberated guitars and keyboards and background soundscapes throughout, to the closing that is "Ultimate Trip," the group takes you on what really is an ultimate trip through the dreaming state. The music feels very dreamy, much to the band's credit.

The album's songs can be divided into three categories. The first is the extended tracks: "Beyond the Eyelids," "Parasomnia," and "Ultimate Trip." The songs have great flow and balance. They throw some odd times in here and there, but the atmospheres are the most important factors. I absolutely love the previously mentioned intro and wish that it could have stuck around for a few more minutes. It's really my only complaint. The next category is the short rockers: "Rainbow Box," "02 Panic Room" and "Cybernetic Pillow." While, again, the atmospheres dominate, these ones do lock into some nice grooves and can get you to rock about a bit, especially the former and the latter, which also has a subtle & neat ethnic vibe in the main guitar riff. The last category is the short and soft numbers: "Schizophrenic Prayer," "Through the Other Side," and "Embryonic," and this is actually my favorite of the categories. These tracks are all really moving. I've always loved Mariusz's softer sung vocals - they're the kind of vocals he was really meant to sing - and since these songs thrive on those, pure bliss results.

As always, Piotr's solos and what not are captivating throughout the disc. He makes every solo something awesome with his feel and tone. What would this band be without him?

In short, this may not be the record you wanted to hear from Riverside, but if you see it for what it is and not what you originally had in mind for it to be, you will see that this too is a great album.

Just a note about the bonus material: I would recommend you get, at least, the version with bonus tracks. You'll get "Lucid Dream IV," a typical but good Riverside instrumental in the vein of the "Reality Dream" instrumentals, "Back to the River," a very good atmospheric and Floydian instrumental and a remix of "02 Panic Room." These were all on the EP that came out before the full-length, though. So if you have that, stick with the normal version. If you can't get enough Riverside, get the version with the bonus disc. It has the three tracks listed above plus "Behind the Eyelids" (you can guess which song that is a remix of, and I would also note that the original version is better, though this version is a fresh approach for the group) and the 12-minute instrumental "Rapid Eye Movement," which I feel is a bit long despite how it develops some really cool riffs.

Moatilliatta | 4/5 |


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