Riverside - Rapid Eye Movement
Mystic Records
Dark Progressive Metal
9 songs (55:51)
Release year: 2007
Riverside
Reviewed by Boris
Archive review

Riverside conclude their “Reality Dream” trilogy with this third installment, entitled Rapid Eye Movement. I am a huge fan of the band, and love and recommend all of their albums, but I regretfully have to warn that this is their worst thus far, and by quite a bit.

It may be that by this point in the trilogy, the same themes and musical style are getting a bit repetitive, but Rapid Eye Movement somehow doesn’t sound as original as its predecessors did. This album attempts to combine the emotion and atmosphere of their debut with the heaviness of Second Life Syndrome, the follow-up, and it does so admirably but unfortunately the songs just don’t measure up to those two records. Opener Beyond the Eyelids briefly sounds like it is going to be a repeat of the wonderful opening track of Second Life Syndrome but quickly kicks into gear with some tasty guitar riffing and organ accompaniment. The song manages to remain interesting despite is 8-minute running time—no surprise for this amazing band—but once its over, I can’t seem to remember any of the melodies. Neither the musical hooks nor the vocal melodies are particularly unique here, and thus not as memorable as I’m used to hearing. Also the song pretty much stays at its upper mid-pace the entire time, so there aren’t twists and turns and no emotional climax.

The next two tracks represent the other flaw of this album—Riverside’s influences and similarities to other bands that play a similar style of music are all too evident. Rainbow Box is an excellent song—short, upbeat and catchy. But its something I think belongs on a Porcupine Tree album rather than Riverside. Mariusz Duda’s voice, apart from a split second right before the second chorus, isn’t as emotionally charged as it usually is, instead depicting a kind of detachment. This is probably alright for the context of the story the band is telling, but his ability to convey feelings through his singing is part of why I love this band. Track three, 02 Panic Room again starts off like In Absentia era Porcupine Tree, using a lot of fuzz effect on the bass and tasty orchestration. As it goes on, it starts to sound like one of the better OSI songs and kind of drags for a minute before the Riverside I know and love kicks in towards the end. The last minute of this song and the next song, Schizophrenic Prayer recalls the calmer moments of Volte Face and The Same River, showcasing Mariusz Duda’s beautiful voice in the front of the perfect backing music for it. Some excellent atmospheric drumming from Piotr Kazieradzki, who I haven’t mentioned before but definitely should have as he is very skilled, but never too flashy.

Parasomnia is another standard Riverside rocker, ala Artificial Smile from the last album but quite as good. Still, there’s some good lead guitar work that never quite evolves into a solo but is prevalent nonetheless here. Through the Other Side features the cleanest acoustic guitar heard on a Riverside album, complete with a really appropriate and prevalent backing base and nice vocal melody. The song features the same backing vocals that were heard on After, and even though it also reminds me of a Porcupine Tree song, its got a definitive Riverside quality to it. For whatever reason, its really chilling to hear Duda sing “I can see all your scars that you wish you could hide” in a half-whisper. This is probably the best song on the album—beautiful, perfect running length and leaves me wanting more.

Embryonic continues the mellow, acoustic vibe as its simple chord progression is expanded upon by all the instruments until the guitar solo that ends the song. This isn’t quite as memorable as the track before it, but still far from filler. Cybernetic Pillow has a cool lead guitar riff and, despite its awful title, is actually quite a fun listen. After the chorus, there is an interesting keyboard effect that really makes this song stand out. However, this is the only song where I wish Duda would sing less because of all the subtle musical nuances present. I wish I could just bask in them but instead I am drawn to an underwhelming vocal melody for much of the song. Finally, the 13 minute Ultimate Trip closes the album and the trilogy. It recalls musical themes from The Same River and all three Reality Dream instrumentals. This song has everything that makes Riverside unique—great vocal melodies, complex music that flows naturally from one part to the next, and an epic buildup to a really emotional climax. And unlike some other previously mentioned songs on the album, this combines the band’s influences—Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, Rush, Dream Theater—into an awesome mix that still somehow sounds refreshingly original.

I suppose that this album is marred by the lackluster opener, as the opener generally sets the tone for the entire album, and also by the fact that its two predecessors were near perfect and to achieve that again is quite a task. It is still a great album that I recommend everyone listen to, but what it really does for me is make me want to listen to Out of Myself or Second Life Syndrome again.

Killing Songs :
Schizophrenic Prayer, Through the Other Side, Ultimate Trip
Boris quoted 87 / 100
Other albums by Riverside that we have reviewed:
Riverside - Wasteland reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
Riverside - Anno Domini High Definition reviewed by Boris and quoted 98 / 100
Riverside - Second Life Syndrome reviewed by Boris and quoted 94 / 100
Riverside - Out Of Myself reviewed by Boris and quoted 93 / 100
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