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Riverside

Shrine of New Generation Slaves

(Inside Out)

5


Riverside
Shrine of New Generation Slaves


Visionary quartet Riverside is often considered the leading force in Polish progressive rock, and for good reason. Having released the brilliant Reality Dream trilogy (Out of Myself, Second Life Syndrome, and Rapid Eye Movement), as well as 2009’s unrelated Anno Domini High Definition, the band stood proudly as one of the most promising outfits in the genre. With Shrine of New Generation Slaves, they continued to impress. Truthfully, the record isn’t as versatile, colorful, or melodically rich as it could’ve been, which makes it feel like a successor to their EPs more than their LPs. Still, opening track “New Generation Slave” sets the stage well for the aggressive nature of the collection, while tracks like “The Depth of Self-Delusion”, “Celebrity Touch”, and “Deprived…” radiate pristine dynamic shifts, as heavy instrumentation melts into moving verses and gripping choruses. Shrine may not be one of Riverside’s best albums, but it’s still one of the choice releases of the year. Jordan Blum


 

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Ayreon

The Theory of Everything

(Inside Out)

4


Ayreon
The Theory of Everything


To many, Arjen Anthony Lucassen is a musical genius. The mastermind behind several progressive metal projects, his bombastic rock operas never get old. In 2008, following the release of the underappreciated 01011001, Lucassen put his most famous project, Ayreon, on hold in order to focus on other interests. Since then, fans have wondered if and when Ayreon would return (as well as how successful it would be if it ever did). Recently, Lucassen answered all of those questions with The Theory of Everything, another intricate, catchy, and highly ambitious saga. What separates this one from its siblings is its organization (42 tracks broken into four “suite”), relatively accessible storyline, conceptual continuity, focus on fewer guest musicians (even though prog royalty like Jordan Rudess, Steve Hackett, and Keith Emerson make appearances), and exceptional segues. Never before has an Ayreon album flowed so smoothly or contained so many thematic reprisals, which makes it a unique creation amongst the pack. The Theory of Everything doesn’t quite match its two immediate predecessors, but it comes damn close, which makes it a remarkable new start for the Ayreon name. Jordan Blum


 

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Devin Townsend

The Retinal Circus

(Inside Out)

Review [30.Oct.2013]

3


Devin Townsend
The Retinal Circus


Few, if any, musicians have a discography as diverse, unique, complex, and just plain eccentric as Canadian progressive metal master, Devin Townsend. Each one of his dozen or so solo works offers something special while also sticking to his revered formula, and he pays tribute to almost all of them on The Retinal Circus. More than just a run-of-the-mill concert experience, The Retinal Circus captures flawless recreations of some of his best work (such as “Planet of the Apes”, “Color Your World”, and “Hyperdrive”) ,while also incorporating wild theatrics, a zany storyline, several guest appearances, and, best of all, a consistently humorous vibe. Townsend balances his incredible musicianship with plenty of self-parody, which makes the entire affair very inviting. The Retinal Circus is easily one of the best live recordings in recent memory, as well as a perfect commemoration of Townsend’s career. Jordan Blum


 

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Steven Wilson

The Raven That Refused to Sing

(K-Scope)

2


Steven Wilson
The Raven That Refused to Sing


Embarking on a solo career is always a risky move, especially when you’re already established as arguably the top modern musician in your genre. Such is the case for Steven Wilson, whose various projects (especially Porcupine Tree) have catapulted him into the forefront of contemporary progressive rock. For many (not me, mind you), his debut LP, Insurgentes, was too industrial and avant-garde, while its follow-up, Grace for Drowning bled King Crimson a little too heavily. With The Raven That Refused to Sing, Wilson silenced just about every remaining naysayer, as it’s significantly more cohesive, original, and intricate (which is due in part to its enclosure of jazz fusion) than the other two. Whether you’re rocking out to “Luminol” (the best instrumental Wilson has ever created), basking in the multifaceted glory of “The Watchmaker”, or singing along to the gloriously sorrowful closing title track, The Raven proves to be a gem from beginning to end. In fact, it’s on par with anything else he’s done.  Jordan Blum


 

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Anathema

Universal

(K-Scope)

1


Anathema
Universal


Universal is so much more than the “very special night” type live album that it’s billed as. While 2010’s We’re Here Because We’re Here and last year’s breakthrough Weather Systems were milestones in Anathema’s long evolution into progressive rock’s tearjerking extraordinaires, Universal takes all of those albums’ highlights and cuts out all of their weak points. The result is an emotionally no-holds barred setlist, backed by the powerful performance of Bulgaria’s Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra, that stands as a culmination of everything the band has worked for up to this point. The CD/DVD’s sleeve art is as accurate a depiction of Anathema, circa 2013, as any: they really are, to borrow their words, “flying” on prog’s cloud nine. This is the rare live album that transcends the studio cuts it contains to become a whole new experience entirely. Brice Ezell


Related Articles
31 Oct 2014
As a tribute to a recently departed fan, Steven Wilson and Mariusz Duda (of Lunatic Soul and Riverside fame) have teamed up for the gorgeous song "The Old Peace".
30 Oct 2014
Steven Wilson is in the studio right now to record his yet-to-be-named fourth solo LP. To give a sneak peek of what's to come, he has released a video of him and his band in the recording studio in London.
19 Jun 2014
A collection of covers and originals that are as remarkable and unique as anything else Wilson has done.
12 Jun 2014
In light of the major achievement that is 2012's Weather Systems and 2013's live album Universal, distant satellites feels minor in comparison. But this is still Anathema, so bring some tissues.
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