Wasteland - Atargatis

John is looking for perfection

Riffs, melodies, moods, and yes – the compositions generally keeps 100% on the Wasteland, and there is no doubt that Riverside is still a very competent band. But, like the mad american John McEnroe always tried to achieve the perfect tennis match, where everything functioned optimally, and being prog-rock a the pursuit of perfection. This quest is the entire genre's raison d'etre, and prog is not something you do halfway. This is not something that is just 'good enough'. Why should Riverside work much more with the lyrics and vocals, for none of the parts live up to what is expected, and Wasteland so cannot really get a top rated.

When Steven met Mikael

There was something cutting-edge at the time Porcupine Trees Steven Wilson ran into the Band Mikael Åkerfeldt. Prog met metal in a whole new way, and the guidelines, as the pioneers of prog-metal of Rush and Queensrÿche had recorded in the 70's and 80's, was no longer followed. One of the bands that listened, were Polish Riverside, which since 2004 has released a succession of strong prog albums – not just inspired by the meeting between Steven and Mikael, but largely also of the giants Pink Floyd – specifically the incarnation of the Floyd, guitarist David Gilmour has been in charge since the mid - '80s. However, there have mostly also been a hint of metal in the mix. After guitarist, songwriter, and guitarist Piotr Grudzińskis sudden death of a cardiac arrest, the Riverside in 2016 a collection of ambient and instrumentals, but now is published the band's first real album release after the tragic deaths.

Lots of cinnamon, but also a lot of bad

It is clear that the loss of a longtime partner and friend has left its mark, for the Wasteland is a dark and gloomy place, and it fits the band really well. The album opens with a pure a cappella song, in which Mariusz Dudas fragile and melancholic vocals are in focus. Fine enough, although it has been heard before, but it actually exhibit the band's major weakness: awkward texts, argued in broken English. You can't help asking themselves why they experienced poles even choose to highlight this obvious limitation? On the other hand, leads this intro the listener rather effectively over in the "Acid Rains", the dark and heavy riff, so it is both good and bad. "Dirt and cinnamon" should prove to be a generally apt description of this album. The next cutting, "Vale of Tears", contains also gloomy metal riffs, heavy atmosphere and even a really nice guitar solo. The entire album is actually filled with beautiful, melancholic moods, and is on the way of a demonstration of what prog-rock can, when it is best.

But again and again one is struck by the bad text, complete with missed versefødder, limping English and thick accent. There is really much up to what the prog-genre's best writers, otherwise can offer. One can only yearn after Roger Waters' biting lyrics, Jon Anderson's eastern mystery, Neal morse's religious hymns and Fishs melancholy kærlighedspoesi, which, unfortunately, is totally absent in the Wasteland, and it pulls then down on the building.

The nine-minute instrumental epic, "The Struggle For Survival", starts as something that could hear the home of Rush anno 2112, while the rest is largely taken directly out of Steven Wilson/Porcupine Tree-the songbook. There is nothing wrong with the sounds as one's role models, just to make it so good as here, but it does ultimately even a limit to what kind of character that can be achieved. On such a long instrumental missing you also something pure prog-mastery. But the exaggerated technical guitar solo, or the five-minute-long 'food wizard' keyboardsolo never comes. However, it is not only the "Struggle", one misses something, lir, for it is - with few exceptions - absent on the entire album. "River Down Below" is, on the other hand, a really beautiful ballad that ends with a delicious, low-key David Gilmour-solo, exactly like the kind of now sounds. Again, both the bad and the cinnamon.

Another highlight of the Wasteland is the title track, where Dudas uses his delicious baritone that gives the song far more gravitas than it might otherwise. The dark voice fits perfectly to the heavy riff that dominates the song's long instrumental ending – again a show of what Riverside does best. We will even get a piece of clean Iron Maiden-guitarmelodi, that also works. There is not much individual virtuosity, but we have lots of beautiful passages and nice interaction, so you (almost) forget the shortcomings.

>> Check the songs and lyrics here