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5 stars WOW. What an album this last output from the Spanish band Rivendel. When I wrote a comment on the previous album, DHD, I said that It was their best effort until then, but I have to confess that this one is even better and, more than this, much more personal and interesting. For the first time in its carreer they include a conventional drummer and this is a really good thing. As the previous album, this one is completely instrumental. Whit the leivmotiv of Sisyfos, the Greek character damned to roll up the hill eternaly a enormeus stone, the album develop several ambients and moods, mixing long tracks with others more concises acting like interludes. From the pinkfloyesche "Charon crossing teh Styx" until the last "Sysyphus and the Rock" (both them more than 12 minutes long), Sysyfos is mainly an amazing trip through dark landscapes . Some of these premises were already in DHD but here are much more developed. The seed in DHD is here a big tree with multiple branches, sinking its roots in the whole progressive rock history, with special affinity for its darkest manifestations (Univers Zero, Present, King Crimson, even some zeuhl traces). Sisyfos is a fantastic album but, as I said concerning the previous one, this is not a neoprog album, this is more a RIO-avant one, even when you can find too echoes from more conventional sounds For me, this album had to have the subtite of "Sounds of mystery and imagination". Not in vain, when I listen to some tracks, I feel an immediate association with the fall of the Usher's house. Maybe cause by the impact of the Sisyfos' stone rolling down the hill.
Report this review (#1913771)
Posted Wednesday, April 11, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars This Spanish band published two strong albums some twenty years ago. It seems that they reformed a few years ago. It's the same people on board but now their music has become bold and matured a lot. "Sisyfos" is a conceptual album based on the Sisyphus greek myth, the man who thought that he was smarter than the gods. He was finally punished to carry a rock up a mountain for the whole eternity. The beautiful artwork shows Sisyfos carrying his rock up the mountain. The first track "Charon crossing the Styx" last more than 12 minutes and it's like an overture to the story. It places the listener together to Charon paddling his boat through the greek underworld. Is very atmospheric in the early Pink Floyd way but it's also full of great melodies and dramatic mood changes. A fantastic entry to the album. "Sisyphus and Merope I" is a very short track. Charming guitar with mellotron arrangements. Clean and superb! "The Istmian Games" is a very different approach. Complex organ progressions, wild guitar, crimsoniam bass... Sisyphus started defying the gods! The short "Sisyphus and Merope II" is the same music as part I but subtle details have changed. There is some disturbance threatening instead of the peaceful part I. "Greek Salad" is very difficult to describe. It's a rythmic, pulsating music. Very avantgardish, every change is unexpected. Can't think who could write music like this! Next song, "Sisyphus in Styx", is a return to the stygian atmosphere of track 1 but this time Sisyphus is there, so the threat is always present! What a great piece of music, distraughted sounds from hell in a weird landscape. "The Anger of Zeus" is another unexpected twist. Rivendel plays three minutes of ashtounding hard rock / avantgarde craziness. This drummer can play! The last track "Sisyphus and the Rock" is the other long track of the album. The hopelessness of Sisyphus carrying the rock up the mountain is perfectly described. The song has multiple parts but they fit together smoothly. At the very end the music dilutes into frightening noises and I can truly feel Sisyphus despair and madness. A great story. Very varied songs. Skillfully crafted. Rivendel at their top! 5 points.
Report this review (#1915472)
Posted Wednesday, April 18, 2018 | Review Permalink
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars On the strength of their latest instrumental album, 2018's `Sisyfos', and actually their fourth work since forming in the mid-Eighties, it might be a bit of a struggle to not instantly dismiss Spanish act Rivendel as being a mere King Crimson clone. Absolutely Robert Fripp's legendary eclectic prog group is a massive influence on this concept album about the Greek myth, with the album overloaded with endless scratchy Mellotron, tortured sustained guitar wailing and rattling percussion, but admittedly the band occasionally take things further by incorporating elements of spacerock, Seventies horror movie soundtracks and even little hints of the earlier `krautrock' period of Tangerine Dream before the programming took over.

Opener `Charon Crossing the Styx' gradually unfolds over twelve minutes, a dreamy and mysterious spacerocker that also holds a definite lurking sense of unease. Mellow guitar ruminations and placid icy synths slowly come to life with rambunctious drum thrashing, and the heavily improvised piece might not have sounded out of place on an Oresund Space Collective album. `Sisyphus & Merope I' is a sedate chiming guitar shimmer of delicate reflection that could almost have popped up on an Italian giallo soundtrack when its ghostly Mellotron choir starts to rise. The playful `The Istmian Games' could almost be retitled `The Indoor Games' in the way it captures the same loopy mindset of King Crimson's `Lizard' album from 1970 with its devilish keyboard mischievousness and Frippian guitar grinding, and `Sisyphus & Merope II' is a further reprise of the first shorter spectral interlude.

For `Greek Salad', think of the wild old Crimson improvisations - all slithering bass murmurs, clanging percussion crashes, heavy staccato piano stabs, lurching guitar grooves with occasional buzzsaw-like eruptions and monolithic horn-like Mellotron blasts. The lulling `Sisyphus in Styx' holds unhurried ambient synth/organ builds and clouds of serene Mellotron caresses ala early Tangerine Dream before serrated guitars and chilly 'Tron shards start to infiltrate, and the blistering `The Anger of Zeus' is feral and violent. Best of all is the closer `Sisyphus and the Rock', loaded with eerie percussion tinkering, psychedelic spacy electronics, a filthier stoner rock snarl to the guitars and a stalking imposing heaviness constantly stomping down as if wandering off from a Goblin soundtrack.

Perhaps there's not a lot of depth to `Sisyfos', and some stretches prove to be a little unengaging, but its gloriously dirty surface noise and heavy atmosphere is still very addictive, and the sparse production gives the album a satisfying grit. There might not be much in the way of originality, but if you're happy to hear an album that picks up where King Crimson leaves off and you simply don't mind a disc that's often a case of just `more of the same', `Sisyfos' has plenty going for it.

Three stars.

Report this review (#2132010)
Posted Monday, January 28, 2019 | Review Permalink

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