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Riverside: Shrine Of New Generation Slaves

New prog veterans take the Pole position

Standard bearers for the perennially impressive and fertile Polish prog scene, Riverside have long threatened to take their place beside Porcupine Tree and Opeth as modern masters of the genre.

Both defiantly forward-thinking and unashamedly nostalgic, this is a conceptually morose affair for the most part. But the dominant blend of strident riffs, subtle experimentation and rippling analogue keys ensures that there is also a strong sense of the joy and delight at the possibilities thrown up by prog’s spirit of creative liberation.

Mainman Mariusz Duda is a commanding but curiously detached presence as he muses on life’s apparent futility and the vacuous preoccupations of first world societies. He paints his verbal pictures across an enthralling sonic canvas that takes in everything from opener New Generation Slave’s concise artrock sizzle and 13-minute epic Escalator Shrine’s thunderous hard rock sprawl, to the elegant acoustic balladry of the closing Coda.

The whole thing thrums with sincerity and quiet ingenuity and flows as naturally as the mighty Vistula river itself.