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Riverside - Love, Fear And The Time Machine CD (album) cover

LOVE, FEAR AND THE TIME MACHINE

Riverside

 

Progressive Metal

4.03 | 593 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
3 stars What has quickly become the most divisive album in Riverside's catalogue, 2015's `Love, Fear and the Time Machine' sees the Polish band take a big side-step away from their usual metal/heavier style to move their music in a far more streamlined, accessible direction than ever before. It shares similarities to the recent Anathema albums, Steve Hogarth's Marillion era and Steve Wilson's solo works, and in some spots almost comes across as a solo album for main-man Mariusz Duda. Needless to say, some of their metal fans are already throwing around terms like `sell-out'! But despite being less complex and placing more importance on actual tunes over instrumental show-boating, there is still much to instantly identify the band as Riverside here. Duda's voice is still full of emotion and his thick upfront bass is dominating and given many opportunities to stand out, with Piotr Kozieradski's drumming furious and busy, Piotr Grudzinki's guitars vibrant and varied, and Michal Lapaj's synths, piano and Hammond organ plentiful. Even though some pieces do push the five minute mark, you can mostly forget lengthy, more expected prog-rock workouts this time around ' the song, vocals and lovely group harmonies are what's most important, with the more progressive instrumental parts mostly restricted to short bursts in the middle of tracks, or perhaps an extended intro or outro here and there.

Looking at a few highlights, chiming guitars, gently whirring synths and a hopeful, reflective chorus welcome the listener on opener `Lost', surely destined to be a rallying favourite for fans when performed live. Plentiful synths and guitar soloing livens up `Under the Pillow', the fragile and melancholic `Afloat' could have fit easily on a recent Anathema album (lovely restrained Hammond throughout that one too), and both `Time Travellers' and album closer `Found' are warm sheltering ballads that could easily have the kind of crossover success that Steven Wilson has enjoyed.

But there's a couple of tracks that prove to be very special that take the album higher. `The Caterpillar and the Barbed Wire' and `Saturate Me' will definitely appeal most to longtime Riverside fans, allowing more opportunity for longer instrumental sections with great interplay between all the musicians, whilst bringing back some of ethereal guitars runs and heavier grunt (and the sparse and lonely repeated refrain of `I don't want to feel like I'm no-one anymore' on the latter is very confronting). Same too for the mysterious verses behind slinking electronic loops and bouncing relentless bass of `Discard your Fear' lifted by a reassuring chorus. The longest track here at just over eight minutes, `Towards the Blue Horizon' brings plenty of light and shade by alternating between dreamy, Hogarth-era Marillion vocal purrs with bursts of heavier intensity and darker groaning drones full of tense brooding unease.

Big respect also goes to the shamelessly up-tempo radio-friendly `#Addicted', a sad commentary on those addicted to social media, with a tune kissed by the gods of great pop music. Driven by Duda's murmuring chunky bass line, his sweetly crooned chorus and careful falsetto vocal would have probably made Eighties romantic synth group A-Ha an absolute fortune back in that day, and he even sounds like their lead singer in a few spots ' yes really, get on Youtube now!

It's refreshing to see the band try a different approach, and many other bands would be envious of how well-written and performed the tunes on offer here are and how slick the production is. But as good as the album always sounds on the surface, stripping back on a lot of the elements that their existing fanbase appreciated about them has also made Riverside a little less interesting here in a few spots, and while many moments are initially instantly exciting from the first spin, repeated plays, despite some distracting and slick vocal arrangements and easy-to-enjoy tunes, reveals not as much in the way of depth to keep the listener coming back, something that all their previous albums offered. Seeing as `Love, Fear and the Time Machine' has already become their biggest seller to date chart-wise in several countries, it's definitely proven to be a valid move for the band, and they should be proud of the achievement. But hopefully this strong crossover album helps them get their foot in the door to a wider audience that some of the above mentioned artists have achieved, that they can then use to really impress with a more wholly challenging and complex album in the future.

Three stars as a progressive rock album, but add an extra star if you're happy with simply a damn fine rock album.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 3/5 |

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