Riverside – Rapid Eye Movement

Riverside
Rapid Eye Movement

Fans of Polish Progressive Rock quartet Riverside have been waiting two years for a conclusion to their “Reality Dream” trilogy, and now they have it. An emotional and intriguing concept about schizophrenia, depression and lack of identity, the first two chapters, Out of Myself and Second Life Syndrome, were simply masterpieces. As a final installment, Rapid Eye Movement falls short of living up to expectations and its predecessors, but it is still a phenomenal album on its own.

Coming together in 2001 just to jam, Mariusz Duda, Piotr Grudzi, Piotr Kozieradzki, and Michal Lapaj soon realized they had a shared appreciation for the same music. Although wearing influences such as Anathema, Pink Floyd, and especially Porcupine Tree on their sleeve, the true originality and brilliance is revealed if listened to closely. Their first two LPs revealed great use a dynamics, entrancing syncopations and some of the greatest melodies the genre has ever seen. There was something truly special about them that, to be honest, Rapid Eye Movement somewhat lacks, but combined, they have created one of the best epics in Prog Rock’s history.

A very nice touch used to give the trilogy cohesion is beginning Out Of Myself and ending Rapid Eye Movement with the sound of a radio being tuned to different stations. There are other little moments of variations on things present in the two preceding albums. This results in the album feeling like a connected final episode. The trademark virtuosity and vocal chanting is present in “Beyond the Eyelids”, confirming that Riverside is back with a vengeance. There are moments of metal riffing and angry growls (that last a few seconds only), incredibly complex time signature changes and ventures into soft beauty. Riverside has always had a great duality in their music. The instrumental parts are very tricky and jaw-dropping , but the songwriting and knack for creating truly great melodies is just as impressive. It is impossible not to pretend to play drums as well as sing along. All of that aside, Rapid Eye Movement does have some faults.

One noticeable flaw is also part of their recognizable sound, so it may be intentional. Throughout their career, they basically use the same tones for their instruments. The guitar in particular has kept the same tone almost all of the time, and the solos have the same style. This may be related to the albums being part of a bigger whole so all three albums need to sound somewhat alike. It is undeniably what makes them Riverside, but by the third album, it gets a bit redundant. Another complaint is that the melodies are just not as good or involving as they should be. The album just lacks some of the energy and heart that a conclusion should have and is almost definitively the weakest entry.

Riverside is one of the best Progressive Rock bands around today. Although their influences are a little too obvious, they still combine fantastic songwriting with mesmerizing polyrhythms to create a trademark sound. The first couple parts of their ambitious “Reality Dream” trilogy are two of the greatest albums the genre has seen lately. With Rapid Eye Movement, they somewhat lazily and disappointingly seem to just want to end it. Even so, it is still quite an accomplishment and a worthy end.